Mark Best, the Australian chef whose flagship Marque has repeatedly been named among the best in the country, will close the restaurant at the end of June, the chef has announced.
Since opening in 1999, Marque has been known as a leader in avant-garde cooking, and was described in the New York Times as “inevitably new territory.”
“You will not eat food like this, encounter such ideas on the plate, elsewhere,” the late Times editor RW Apple once wrote of Best’s classically French-trained, yet edgy cooking style. The 50-seat restaurant is known for its four- or eight-course tasting menus, with the goal of delivering uncharted experiences in gastronomy.
“Marque was meant to be a much simpler place than it was,” Best wrote in a post for Gourmet Traveller. “I got ahead of myself with the design of the place. I had a bit too much money and the architect was a little bit too clever and then suddenly I had to retrofit a menu to fit the design of the restaurant. If I'd opened with bentwoods and bare tables I might've cooked differently. I also credit my tiny shoebox of a kitchen with my success. We made do, and the ideas that I had needed to be sharp. We had nowhere to hide, so they had to be good, and that's how our aesthetic there developed.”
“Marque has always been difficult. I didn't allow it to be easy. When we opened in 1999 I didn't know what I was doing, and there was a certain cushion of ignorance there that kept me smiling, and from there on in I was too busy learning how to run a restaurant and everything that went into it. It's always been a challenge. I've had a lot of travel, I've had a lot of those things, the trappings of wealth, if not actual wealth, and at the end of it all, you're still running a very small business inside a small economy, and you have to do everything yourself, from handling media to cleaning the toilets to acting as a psychologist to your staff, a father, mother, confessor, whatever. It's an impost on your life.”
Best will continue to be involved in Pei Modern, Best’s bistro restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, and noted that while he was ready to move on from his flagship, more projects could be on the way.
“I want to do other restaurants as well,” Best wrote. “Marque was a great flagship, but I don't need that flagship anymore because I think my personal brand is now something that stands apart from Marque.”