arco Canora's appreciation for good food developed when he was a child growing up in a river town in upstate New York. He especially looked forward to the summer months when his mother would harvest vegetables and herbs from the family garden and prepare the dishes that she had enjoyed during her own childhood in Lucca, Italy.
By the time he was a teenager, Marco had developed an active interest in food and in cooking. Working in his uncle's television store did little to spark his imagination, but when a friend got him a job washing dishes at a well-respected local restaurant, Marco began to see all kinds of possibilities for his future. A quick study, he went from dishwasher to pot-scrubber and eventually on to garde manger, a position that made him responsible for all cold dishes in the restaurant.
After graduating from high school, Marco moved to New York City to attend Pace University, where he earned a degree in international marketing. While at Pace, Marco worked for a booking agency with connections to the music industry, but this desk job left him unsatisfied, and it was not long before he went in search of restaurant work once again. This time, he landed as a prep cook in Dean and Deluca's prepared foods kitchen, a job that gave him an appreciation of just how much high quality produce a chef can get his hands on.
With college behind him, Marco decided to leave New York and set off on a cross country motorcycle trip. During a year-long stopover in Boulder, Colorado, he worked as a line cook at Winston's, a seafood restaurant at the Hotel Boulderado. Then, it was on to San Francisco, where he quickly found work at Backstage, a restaurant in the theater district. At Backstage, Marco soon took on the responsibilities of day-time sous chef and was later promoted to night-time sous chef. After spending a little over a year out west, Marco began to feel the pull of home and decided to return to New York City. This time, however, he had a clear goal in mind. He wanted to work at one of the city's most acclaimed restaurants.
Gramercy Tavern, a much-talked about newcomer, was looking for line cooks and offered Marco a job. The match proved to be a fortuitous one. Not only was Marco now working in one of Manhattan's up and coming restaurants, he was also given time off to enhance his professional skills, traveling to Florence, Italy where he worked at Fabbio Picchi's world renowned restaurant, Cibreo. When he asked for the summer off so that he could start La Cucina, his own fifty-seat seasonal restaurant in Edgartown, Massachusetts, he was told that a position would still be waiting for him when he returned in the fall.
La Cucina turned out to be an unprecedented success for Marco, earning him positive coverage from such publications as The Boston Globe and bringing him a bevy of celebrity customers. The most well-known was then-President Bill Clinton, for whom Marco catered a fiftieth birthday celebration.
After returning from his second summer at La Cucina, Marco was promoted to night-time sous chef at Gramercy Tavern, but he soon found himself craving involvement in a new restaurant venture and spoke to Gramercy's chef/owner Tom Colicchio about this goal. As luck would have it, Tom had just started to think about opening a new restaurant and needed an executive chef, someone who would be responsible for designing the menu and overseeing all kitchen operations. When Craft restaurant opened in 2001, Marco was at the helm. Under Marco's watch, Craft won the James Beard award for best new restaurant and garnered three stars from The New York Times. Marco himself also received some long-awaited credit for his efforts in the kitchen. U.S.A. Today noted that Chef Canora's cuisine has won near universal praise. While Craft grew in popularity, Marco's job description expanded. Not only was he running the Craft kitchen, but he also became responsible for designing the opening menu and managing the kitchen of Craft's more casual sibling, Craftbar. In addition, he traveled to Las Vegas to oversee the opening of Craftsteak and then to Tokyo to bring Craft's menu to diners at The New York Grill, an acclaimed restaurant in The Park Hyatt Hotel.
Although the option of staying at Craft and riding the wave of its success was certainly tempting, in the fall of 2003 Marco decided to strike out on his own. Shortly after leaving Craft, he opened Hearth Restaurant with fellow Gramercy alum Paul Grieco.
While the opening months of operating his own restaurant proved challenging, Marco has enjoyed some proud moments as Hearth's co-owner and chef. In the spring of 2004, the restaurants success landed him an appearance on The Today Show with Katie Couric and the chance to teach a cooking class at Macy's for the De Gustibus culinary series. Right now, he is looking forward to whatever other professional opportunities may unfold.