Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Chef Mark Peel Passes Away

Mark Peel, far right, served as a judge at the Pie Contest at the 2019 Larchmont Family Fair. He’s pictured here with contest sponsor Anne Loveland (left) and fellow judges Daphne Brogdon and Phil Cochran, along with contest winner Katie Kim.

Legendary chef Mark Peel, best known for pioneering his own brand of California Cuisine, passed away on Sunday afternoon. Peel, a resident of the Longwood Highlands and Hancock Park neighborhoods, was 66.

According to his wife Daphne Brogdon, Peel had been recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of liver cancer. He’d been experiencing severe back pain. Repeated visits to Kaiser’s urgent care were of no help. When it affected his ability to walk, he was finally given an MRI on the assumption back surgery he had gotten last year had gone sideways. Sadly, the prognosis was that Peel had a very advanced stage liver cancer. Once they’d received the news of the devastating diagnosis, Peel’s family invited close friends to make their final visits to him. Beloved in the cooking world, his friend and mentor Wolfgang Puck came to say good bye.


Mark Peel with Julia Child. The photo (shared by Brogdon) was taken at Campanile in February 1991 when Child visited the restaurant.


Peel was a celebrity in the food world but he was also well known to neighbors and friends in Hancock Park and Longwood Highlands. His youngest children, Vivien and Rex, attended Larchmont Charter School, where he was always willing to help out with a school fundraiser.

“Mark wanted our children to go to public school and was happy to cook a meal or help the school in any way,” Brogdon told the Buzz. “Every year before COVID, we would host a lavish fundraising dinner that Mark cooked all by himself. They were wonderful occasions.” Peel cooked in support of many causes, but nearest to his heart was St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels.

Recently separated, Brogdon and Peel, who were married 16 years, were amicably parenting their children as a team through the past year of online school.  The pandemic forced Peel to sell his recent venture Prawn Coastal. Ironically, he had decided to do a fast casual concept because he said he wanted to spend more time with his young children, feeling that he’d missed much of his older children’s childhood as he built his career.


Mark Peel with is daughter Vivien. Image from Daphne Brogdon’s Instagram.


Today Brogdon posted the image above and the following message on Instagram:


“My husband Mark Peel has passed. He was a great chef, a smart, warm, man. He was a father. He leaves five children and two grandkids. Here he is with our first born Vivien here. He loved this. We had sadly separated last couple years but remained united in our love for our two children who have cruelly lost their father far too young. I’m shattered. He was in the house often and we shared many close moments and co parented. I don’t know where to put my sadness. The added cruelty was how swiftly he was taken. He called me 9 days ago with news that he had just been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. He was calm and brave and didn’t want to interrupt the end of school party we were having. Our young children were foremost in his mind. He was surrounded by loved ones every day and night. He was person of consequence who was greatly loved and will be missed beyond measure”


Philip Miller, General Manager of the Ebell of Los Angeles, and his wife Marguerite Rangel, were among those who visited with Peel before his passing. The three worked together years ago as the opening team for Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.

“Mark was always the nicest person, there was no pretense about him,” Miller told the Buzz. “He was never puffed up by his success.” Miller and Rangel said they were grateful they were able to see him. “He was very ill, but you could still see his impish smile,” said Rangel. “Mark was very humble; he just wanted to make good food for people.”

Despite working in some of the fanciest restaurants in the country and achieving great recognition for his ground-breaking approach, Peel never lost sight of the simple act of feeding people. Brogdon said he’d decided in recent months that teaching was his next chapter.

“Not in a fancy cooking school but at Los Angeles Trade Tech College,” explained Brogdon. “Mark learned on the job. He always said it was better to take the worst job in the best kitchen than to go in debt for a culinary school.”

Brogdon told the Buzz she’s working with Rangel to set up a culinary scholarship fund in Peel’s name.

“For budding chefs who see food the way he did. He eschewed squeeze bottles and artifice.” Brogdon said. “He always said, “Food should look like it just dropped down from heaven.””


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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