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How did Mark Peel die? Former 'Top Chef' judge and Campanile co-founder dies at 66

At Ma Maison, Mark Peel first got a job as a vegetable boy and managed to work his way up to the position of assistant chef
UPDATED JUN 21, 2021
Mark Peel is no more (
Mark Peel is no more (

Los Angeles' well-known chef and restaurateur Mark Peel, who established Campanile with his ex-wife Nancy Silverton, died on Sunday, June 20, in Los Angeles. He was 66 years old.

Peel died at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard, his daughter Vanessa Silverton-Peel confirmed in a statement. Peel was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer only nine days ago, she added. He is survived by Vanessa and four other children: Benjamin and Oliver Silverton-Peel, and Vivien and Rex Peel.


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In 1975, Peel began working for chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison and helped Puck open Spago in West Hollywood in 1982, leading in a dining renaissance in Los Angeles. Peel first started to cook at a small restaurant in the Sonoma Valley where he worked as a dishwasher during high school. “I wanted to be a doctor like everybody else,” Peel told The New York Times in 1986. But instead of finishing pre-med, he shifted to a hotel and restaurant program at Cal Poly Pomona. “I still remember him as a young guy going to Pomona,” Puck told The Times. “He started working for me on the weekends (and) then would come more and more.”

At Ma Maison, Peel first got a job as a vegetable boy and managed to work his way up to the position of assistant chef. From there, he cooked at Michael’s in Santa Monica, where he met his future wife Nancy Silverton in 1979, and then moved on to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Peel appeared twice on 'Top Chef Masters' and was a 'Top Chef' judge in 2009 and 2010. He also made appearances on shows such as 'Hell’s Kitchen', 'Knife Fight' and 'Kitchen Nightmares'.

Soon the news of his demise made its way to social media. One person tweeted, "Hit by this sad news on Father’s Day of the loss of chef Mark Peel to cancer at the age of 66 - in the 90s Campanile was iconic in so many ways, including its cathedral like space on La Brea — Rest In Peace Mr. Peel." Journalist Rikki Klieman said, "I cannot believe I just read this — what a wonderful creative chef he was! #RIP — Mark Peel, the Spago and Campanile chef who helped create California cuisine, dies."



Sharing an experience with Peel, one person tweeted, "One time I was stuffing my face at #Campanile because I loved that effing place a lot and #MarkPeel came bouncing out of the kitchen and kindly comped my table a grilled squab. I had never had it before and it made my day. I think about that all the time. RIP Mark." Another one wrote, "I’m sad to hear about the passing of Chef Mark Peel. I had the privilege of meeting him and writing about him. The LA food scene will miss him."