Those who are fortunate enough to experience the Boston Chocolate Bar know how beautiful and sweet-isfying it is. And when you learn that this weekly cocoa extravaganza is just one of the many marvelous meal offerings at Boston’s historic Langham Hotel (www.langhamhotels.com/boston) it is easy to see why so many people return again and again to eat or to stay.
Since 1998, Executive Chef Mark Sapienza has been overseeing all that is food at the Hotel and regularly enhancing the rich menu of offerings. From the Chocolate Bar on Saturday and the City Brunch on Sunday to other offerings at the award-winning Café Fleuri, as well as the Langham’s famed afternoon tea (served on Wedgwood china, no less!) and the impressive nightlife at BOND restaurant | lounge and the always welcoming Reserve Lobby Lounge, and even including in-room dining for the Langham’s fortunate guests, the Bay State native (the Hotel’s first American-born chef) has an experienced hand in all of it! Combining his love of local produce (that has earned him such accolades as the 2010 Northeast Family Farms Award of Appreciation and the 2014 Massachusetts Oyster Project Award of Recognition) with a contemporary and international flair that comes from years of training at venues all over the world (including an early Italian trattoria, the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, the Montauk Yacht Club and Inn, and the world-renowned Claridge’s hotel in London), Chef Sapienza has earned acclaim as an invited guest to the James Beard House, inclusion on the list of Best Hotels Chefs in America, and legions of lip-licking fans who come by The Langham, Boston whenever they are in town or who make special trips for chocolate, seafood, or any of Chef’s other specialties.
MM: How did you get into cooking?
MS: I have a big Italian family where cooking and eating together with our extended families was part of our culture. Professionally, I started college in business management but did not enjoy it so I dropped out and started working at a factory. Without direction, a relative who knew I liked to cook suggest Johnson and Wales. I had never heard of it or even knew there was such a thing as cooking school. I went to an open house in June and then enrolled in the September trimester. I loved and went for four years to get my AS in Culinary and BS in Hospitality Management … the rest is history.
MM: Where was your first professional kitchen experience?
MS: At the Holiday Inn Woburn as weekend breakfast cook. I had never cooked before, was just about to start school. I went in on a Friday. The food and beverage director showed me how to “flip” eggs. The next day, I got there at 5:30 am, picked up the keys at the front desk and was on my own until the afternoon cook showed up.
MM: What is your favorite dish to prepare?
MS: I love preparing a big Italian Sunday meal for my family- Antipasto, soup, pasta etc. My son is in the act now and we make the family “gravy” (tomato sauce) together
MM: What is the best part of your job?
MS: Teaching and sharing my experiences with my team. When I was interviewing in college for my internship program, I was asked what I appreciated about the chefs at the school and the answer about them was the same – I said that I hope to be someone like them, that young cooks looked up to for guidance, and I have found it.
MM: Who is your favorite chef?
MS: When I began my career, Jasper White had just opened Jasper’s on Atlantic Avenue in Boston and Lydia Shire was at the Bostonian. I still look up to both for what they did to create the restaurant revolution in Boston. Presently though, I am still impressed but the detail and commitment of the food of Thomas Keller – simple, uncomplicated with surprises, but detailed with no concessions in the quality and approach.
MM: What do you usually make for yourself at home?
MS: A sandwich, anything between bread.
MM: If you could dine with any three people, who would they be?
MS: Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon and Marc Haerberlin.