Chef Mark Abernathy
Chef Mark has over 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry as chef, owner, manager, consultant and developer. Mark developed leadership skills starting at an early age and earned his Eagle Scout award on his way up. Like many chefs, Mark has a bevy of creative talent and in addition to cooking, he's an accomplished musician and songwriter. But, he is best known as Arkansas' premiere chef and restaurateur. In addition to being active throughout the state in teaching, demonstrations and fundraising; Mark also owns two of Little Rock’s most popular restaurants…the multiple award winning Loca Luna and Red Door. He has owned and/or developed multiple restaurants and earned hundreds of local and national awards and accolades.
Mark is a founders council member of Food & Wine Magazines' Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and is active in St. Jude's "Farm to Table" series. In 2012 he received the American Culinary Federation Formica and Ben E. Keith Community Service Award. Abernathy founded the Arkansas chapter of Share Our Strength, which hosts the annual "Taste of the Nation" fundraiser for hunger relief.
Chef Abernathy has appeared in over 400 television segments and is the creator and former host of the ABC syndicated cooking show, Today's Cuisine. Abernathy is a regular guest chef on Little Rock's ABC affiliate KATV and has been featured in numerous publications including Food Networks' Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels, The New York Times, Cook's Illustrated, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Southern Living, Food Arts, Delta's SKY Magazine and more. Mark has cooked for, and hosted, numerous dinners for former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. This is Mark's first year representing Arkansas and Oaklawn at Taste of Derby.