A native of Long Island, Mark’s love of food and fine dining can be traced back to early Sunday mornings spent in the kitchen with his father. Each week, the pair would rise early – working together to prepare the family’s meal for later in the day. His formal culinary career began at the Rockville Center Country Club, where he served first as a dish washer, before progressing to a line cook. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Mark mentored under several notable chefs in Manhattan – continuing to hone his fine dining skills.
He made the move to assisted living after working in Manhattan for several years, and joined The Bristal family in 2011 as a sous chef for our East Northport community. He was hired as the Director of Food Service for The Bristal at Jericho in 2019, shortly after it opened. Asked what he loves most about his job, Mark is quick to respond, “The residents. I love putting a smile on their faces. The Bristal is their home and I want to make them as comfortable as possible.” Chef demonstrations are also a favorite, as they offer him an additional chance to connect with residents. He loves the interactive nature of the demos, and watching residents enjoy themselves.
The following recipe is one of Mark’s favorites, as it has ties to his grandmother. She passed her love for gnocchi, as well as the board she used to roll the dumplings, on to Mark. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Turkey Bolognese
Prep time: Approximately 60 minutes
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and large diced
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and large diced
2 carrots, peeled and medium diced
2 stalks of celery, medium diced
1 cup diced shallot
1 ½ lbs. ground turkey
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup olive oil
3 ½ cups of crushed tomato
¾ cup of tomato paste
2 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped fresh garlic
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp black pepper
½ cup rough chopped fresh basil
Top with your favorite grated cheese and salt to taste
Place sweet potatoes and Idaho potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil. Cook until soft.
Drain potato mixture thoroughly to get it as dry as possible, which is very important as you do not want excess water in your gnocchi.
Whisk the potatoes until smooth, adding the flour slowly to the potatoes while mixing.
Once completely mixed, place mixture on flour-dusted cutting board.
To form the gnocchi, dust your hands with flour and make teaspoon-sized ovals. Use a fork to make the lines – starting at the bottom of the tines and rolling down to the tips, pressing lightly as you go.
Place the formed gnocchi aside for approximately 30 minutes – letting them dry so they are easier to handle and won’t fall apart.
While the gnocchi are resting, make the Bolognese sauce. Add the olive oil, oregano, garlic, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper, onion powder, celery, carrot, and shallot to a sauté pan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the ground turkey, using a rubber spatula to break into medium pieces until cooked.
Add the tomato paste and stir into the mixture, cooking for about 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, continuing to stir the mixture.
Slowly add the milk and basil and allow the sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Once sauce is finished, place gnocchi in large pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until they float to the top. Carefully drain the gnocchi, spooning the sauce over top and finishing with a sprinkle of your favorite grated cheese.
Chef 's Notes
Five questions. Hundreds of different answers based on our chef’s awesome personalities. Enjoy!
Q. Ingredient you must have?
A. Butternut squash
Q. Favorite recipe?
Q. Favorite tool?
Q. Favorite cuisine?
Q. Favorite meal?
A. Lamb chops with mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts
Chef’s table is an occasional series highlighting the talented chefs from The Bristal Assisted Living communities. This post features Mark Hain, Director of Food Service for The Bristal at Jericho.