Owner and executive chef of Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy
Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he’ll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington, D.C., Rome and Genoa. “And that’s before I turned 12,” he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn’t have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Marc followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduation, Marc apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York, where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan’s Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Chef Terrance’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak.
Eager to return to Europe, Marc flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for a year and a half. Afterward, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Marc’s skills that he personally made arrangements for Marc to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once Marc returned to the States. Marc still considers Sylvain to be his greatest teacher. “Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most-vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation,” he recalls. After Le Cirque, Chef Fortunato tapped Marc to work as a sous chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent’s Middle Eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where Marc met consultant Georges Masraff. When Georges joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Marc to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from The New York Times, Marc headed uptown to serve as executive chef of La Fourchette, where Ruth Reichl, a Times critic, awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his “open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad ... looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir.”
In March 2004 Marc opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc (Tribeca), which won rave reviews for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list. After its success, Marc opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006 serving casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous Ditch Dog, as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007 Marc was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the prestigious Time Warner Center, where he brought his bistro-style cuisine midtown. Ditch Plains has also expanded in the past few years with an outpost on the Upper West Side, which opened in 2011. In October 2013 Marc opened Kingside at the Viceroy Hotel on New York’s iconic West 57th Street, serving his interpretation of New American cuisine. Marc’s restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, where he acts as executive chef and owner. In addition to the restaurants, Marc also heads up the company’s catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of what is offered in his restaurant locations.
Today Marc’s involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants, with his regular role as a judge on Food Network’s hit show Chopped. He has also made appearances on Iron Chef America, Hot Chefs, The Martha Stewart Show, Make My Day, Unique Eats, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Best Thing I Ever Made, The Rachael Ray Show and the TODAY show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp. Marc is also a member of the Food + Finance High School Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States.