Master's of Cuisine

Chef Marco Tellaki

By Chester Simpson

Chef Marco Tellaki

Chef Marco Tellaki at Bon Vivant
Chef Marco Tellaki at Bon Vivant

Bon Vivant

Cafe • Farm Market

2016 Mount Vernon Ave

Alexandria, VA






When did you first become interested in cooking?

When I was born! My mother was a great cook, the family cook, and I started to learn about food and flavors from her.

Why did you pursue a culinary career?

When I was a teenager and I would go camping or on holidays with friends I would always be the cook. I enjoyed everyone else enjoying my cooking and that inspired me to go into a career that I knew I would find rewarding.

Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career?

I was classically trained as a chef in Italy, so I am inspired by the flavors of Italy and chefs like Francesco Lurini whose skills and discipline I admire. Even though we do not technically serve Italian food at Bon Vivant, I bring the knowledge that I learned in Italy about flavors and the art of food to my menu here.

What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it’s received?

We change the menu seasonally, so it’s always exciting to see how customers will feel about the new dishes we put on and the items we take off! Both reactions give us insight into what our customers enjoy the most. I work really hard to make our food flavorful with fresh clean local ingredients, so that people can enjoy food the way it was supposed to be, uninhibited by things we don’t need like artificial flavors or preservatives, and I know this effort is well received by our customers.

What do you do to ensure that the quality of the food going out to customers is of a high standard?

We start with real food ingredients like 100% grass-fed meats from farms like Polyface Farm, and we cook everything in house. I work hard to ensure my kitchen staff are all well trained so that everything the customer receives is consistent. We have quite a few gluten-free customers as well, so I always try to be creative when preparing new dishes to make them gluten-free if possible. For instance, using potato instead of flour to thicken soups. While this is more work, it tastes better, it’s more nutritious and appeals to more of our customer base. Giving customers a high quality product, especially at a casual dining establishment is something I take great pride in.

If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it be?

Marcello Comte, because he knows how to marry ingredients in a surprising and unusual way that is truly delicious.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Moroccan couscous. Because it is not something that is easily found here, when someone does cook it for me it’s a treat and I probably eat too much of it!

(L to R) Salmon Tartar, Salad Bon Vivant, Meatball Plate, and Golosa Egg Panini
(L to R) Salmon Tartar, Salad Bon Vivant, Meatball Plate, and Golosa Egg Panini

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