Mark LaBrooy is something of a Swiss Army Knife, combining love for the outdoors with a passion for cooking. A forager, free diver, spear fisherman, and hunter, he finds himself right at the source for his ingredients, cooking these spoils on-site and in the rough.
Despite his more open-air lifestyle, Mark originally took the route of fine dining training with Michelin-Star cooking in his sights. But it was his time spent abroad (and outdoors) that prompted him to open a cafe back home with two close friends. Six restaurants, three cookbooks, and multiple Good Food Guide Chef Hats later, Mark still finds time to venture out to discover the next best backcountry ingredient or recipe. Get hooked on what gets this all-purpose chef inspired each day in the wild.
Where is your favourite culinary region or city?
Kost Island, Sweden.
Tell us about a perfect culinary day there:
Fishing for blue mackerel during the early hours of the morning, setting a few crab pots and scampi traps. Watching the sun come up over the ocean and lighting up the thousands of small islands of the archipelago.
Later on, it would be coming back to shore with our bounty, smoking the mackerel with juniper, simply blanching the scampi, crab, and prawns, and feasting on the sweetmeat with citrus and caramelised garlic butter sauce.
At what age did you know you would be a chef?
I knew when I went to work for my Uncle in his restaurant during the summer holidays when I was 14. I loved the hours, I loved the tastes and smells, the intensity, and the interesting mix of people that find themselves in hospitality. And I’ve stayed ever since.
Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?
These are hard to find but it’s my peers I most look up to — David Moyle, Darren Robertson, Jo Barret, Matt Stone, Matt Lindsay, and Paul Carmicheal.
Who is someone that you could not do all this without?
My wife, Hannah.
How do you improve as a chef each year?
I remember that I came from nothing and this life is a gift. The more I explore the forest or the ocean, I realise how much on offer we have to eat.
What haven’t you accomplished that you aspire to do?
I would love to create a series around hunting, fishing, and cooking.
Where will we find you on your days off?
With my family, in the forest, or on the water.
If you weren’t a culinary ambassador, what kind of YETI Ambassador would you be?
Probably a hunting ambassador.
What ingredient do you love?
Chilli or garlic.
I am happiest when I am preparing my meal with___?
What are the three most essential things you need in the kitchen?
A chef’s knife, fire, and good, robust cookware.
What would you be if you weren’t a chef?
A hunting guide.
Why do chefs need gear that is Built for the Wild?
If you want to look after the spoils of your labor, then you need the best cooler on the market.
Can you describe what YETI means to you?
Over-engineered gear for people like me that seem to be able to break everything. An ethos for quality, you really only need to buy these items once in your life.
What YETI gear can you not do without?
Tundra Series, Panga Dry Bags, and the GoBox. The coolers are just fantastic for keeping my produce cold or warm. They let me stay out longer in the bush while hunting as I can keep my meat for longer and would rather not live off dehydrated meals. Panga bags for off-grid travel and keeping my gear dust-free and dry. And GoBox to store all my condiments and knives.