BE Modern Man: Meet ‘The Culinary Maverick’ Mark A. Bailey

Name: Mark A. Bailey

Age: 44

Profession: Private Chef

One Word That Describes You: Creative (A Prerequisite For Cooking)

What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

First and foremost, for my work and accomplishments to be recognized by Black Enterprise magazine, which is a long-standing institution that stands for excellence in entrepreneurship, is nothing short of a blessing. What it means to be selected, as one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction, can be best summed up in one word: honor. My cooking philosophy is simple: if you can eat, you can cook. With this approach to cooking, I set out with a mission to innovate and redefine the dining culture at all American dinner tables, brunches, dinner parties and events.

From in-home cooking classes to on-camera demonstrations, I aim to help those who are intimidated of the kitchen by giving them the simple tools to create the perfect meal. Meanwhile, I strive to set myself apart by creating unforgettable food experiences at my events. Bridging the gap between home cooking and restaurant dining can best be described as modern and distinct. For Black Enterprise magazine to view my work as such is not only a high honor, but it is also a most valued affirmation.

What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?

In December of 2008, I was laid off during the economic downturn. After months of uncertainty about what my future may hold I decided to take a huge risk and follow my passion for all things food and become a private chef. It was my decision to pursue a culinary career that would lead to my TV debut on TLC’s Leave it to Niecy with actress/comedian Niecy Nash. After cooking up some laughs with Niecy Nash, I honed my skills on conducting on-camera food segments and have appeared on countless TV networks for food segments. And just this year, I was able to make my Food Network debut appearing on the hit reality competition, Chopped. In short, it was the struggle that came with being laid off that I was able to turn into the success known as ‘Chef Bailey.’

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

Respect has to be the single most important quality I look for in all relationships with others. I find in business, as well as personal relationships, if there is a mutual respect between all parties involved, success is inevitable.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

Currently, I am launching a Pop-Up Brunch Series in New York City. As a private chef and TV food contributor, it’s not too often that my foodie followers are able to try my delicious bites. Now the ‘Chef Bailey Experience’ will be made available at an event near you. In addition to ‘popping up,’ I’m also preparing for the summer release of my breakfast-in-bed cookbook, Cooking In Boxers: 50 Ways To Keep Your Mate In Bed. Stay tuned for my Breakfast in Bed tour.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I have ever received came by way of a viral video of Mr. Steve Harvey. In this video, the comedian/talk show host gives the simple advice, ‘You have to jump,’ to entrepreneurs-to-be. My biggest takeaway from Mr. Harvey’s advice was that after the plunge, tough times are ahead. However, he concludes that if you don’t jump and experience the hardships, you may never find the success you seek.

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

My advice to other men, who want to make a difference, would be simple: Do something different. There are blueprints and paths set before us created by many trailblazers. Sometimes when you seek to make a difference it will require you to veer off the beaten path and create anew. Knowing when to play it safe is always important, but know when to take risks is my advice.

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

I used to be a project manager and it’s critical that all entrepreneurs understand the importance of project management when prepping for a meeting and/or event. When preparing for an event, I outline each and every step. In meetings, I’m prepared with an agenda. Proper planning makes for a successful meeting but can also help you be prepared for the unexpected.

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?

As a chef, I think it’s safe to say that my palate plays a large part in how I like to unwind on vacation. While sun and sand is important, it’s traveling to new and remote locations and experiencing other culinary cultures that really help me to relax. In fact, blending with the locals and frequenting the local diners, drive-ins and dives allows me to channel my own traveling cooking show. But enough about work… I am of Jamaican descent, and so a few years ago I took a trip to Jamaica with my parents. It was my first time meeting a large part of my paternal family. The entire trip was a delicious mix of beach (Dunn’s River), authentic home-cooked Jamaican cuisine (Jerk Chicken, Escovitch Fish, etc.) with an added bonus of family (The Baileys). Needless to say, this vacation holds a special place in my heart and stomach.

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

Cuba. I have long been a fan of Cuban cuisine, and with the U.S. restoring full relations with the island, I, for one, am ready to book my ticket. Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions and black beans and rice are just a few of the Spanish and Caribbean cuisine fusion I anticipate eating on that trip. Oh and in case you were wondering, Cuba is a beautiful island rich in food culture that also offers sun and sand.

Anything else you’d like to say?

This BEMM 100 Men of Distinction honor is a blessing that I do not take lightly. Stay tuned for ways I will pay it forward within the community. Thank You.

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.