Recently, we caught up with Mark, the chef behind Eggzi. Eggzi is Australia's latest supplier of safer, quality free-range eggs and pasteurised eggs for restaurants and bars. Sourced carefully from regional Australia's best farms, the free-range eggs and pasteurised egg yolks and egg whites supplied by Eggzi are premium quality with their own unique flavour profiles.
Mark’s passion for ethical and sustainable free-range egg farming is deep-seeded in him from spending his childhood on cattle farms. Mark holds a certain admiration for farmers who work hard to raise hens ethically, and has chosen regional Australia’s best farmers to source Eggzi’s free-range variety for this very reason.
In my younger years, I grew up on cattle farms. We grew our own crops, chickens and meat, and it was very sustainable living.
With outstanding credentials as an experienced chef of over 23 years, it is evident why Mark has chosen to launch Eggzi, Australia’s home of safer, free range and pasteurised eggs.
Let’s delve into the Q&A interview to understand more about the chef behind the best Australian free range eggs and pasteurised eggs available. Be sure to read to the bottom to find out how Mark pulled off a culinary miracle!
Tell us a bit about your childhood, and how this helped to shape where you are today.
I grew up in a small town called Wingham, which is a small community just outside of Taree. My father’s side of the family were country people and have lived in the community for a few generations. In my younger years, I grew up on cattle farms. We grew our own crops, chickens and meat, and it was very sustainable living. We moved to Sydney in my early teens.
Where did your enthusiasm for food and baking come from?
My two grandmothers on my dad’s side and my mother’s side were extremely good cooks. They always made their own produce and you never went hungry, I think a lot of my passion for cooking really came from both of them.
When did your career begin?
The one thing that I really excelled at in school was hospitality and it was an easy transition into the working world. My first job was in a major hotel group, and I was chosen out of 30 candidates to be an apprentice for The Novotel Sydney. This was really the stepping stone for my career, it was long hours, extremely volatile environment, where I learned the basics.
Then I moved to Le Meridien Sydney for my final two years of my apprenticeship. Throughout my time at Le Meridien, I won the Olivier Shaul Scholarship to go overseas and gain some European work experience.
Tres chic! Tell us more about your experience as a chef in Europe.
I worked in Le Manior Quat Saisons (England) and Michel Rostangs (Paris). Both restaurants held two Michelin stars. It was really this experience that opened my eyes to the professionalism and understanding of what it took to be a great chef.
After my time in England and France, I came back to Sydney and finished my apprenticeship. Once I finished my apprenticeship, I headed back overseas to work in London. I worked in three prestigious fine dining restaurants; Cecconi’s, The Greenhouse and Le Pont De La Tour.
After my second stint in Europe, I moved to Dubai to work at the One & Only Royal Mirage. The One & Only Royal Mirage is a 5-star hotel. I headed up the kitchen of The Beach Bar and Grill which is one of the most famous restaurants in Dubai.
What happened when you returned to Sydney?
I worked for Wine Odyssey Australia for a few years before taking up a 6 month role with the Pendolino Restaurant Group to launch their new restaurant La Rosa The Strand. What started up as a 6-month contract turned into 10 years and becoming the General Manager of the group.
Wow, ten years! What do you love most about working with The Pendolino Group?
For me working at Pendolino was like taking up a business apprenticeship. I worked closely with the owner Nino Zoccali who taught me the ins and outs of running a successful business operation, these fundamentals can really be applied to any business model.
I had the luxury of going overseas and being introduced to the passion and authenticity it took to deliver the simplicity of Italian cooking. We applied the history of Italian cuisine throughout the Pendolino Group. Nino encouraged input from every staff member to bring their ideas to the table.
How long have you worked as a chef in total?
In total I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 23 years now and can honestly say that I have had the most amazing journey, travelled the world and have friends and experiences I will never forget.
Now I am starting a new journey creating my own business, Eggzi.
Why pasteurised eggs?
I was using pasteurised eggs in Europe and England over 15 years ago. At the Ceconni’s restaurant in London, we would make our pasta with pasteurised eggs, tiramisu… pretty much anything that required bulk eggs, we’d use pasteurised eggs for.
It was common practice in many restaurants to purchase small packs of pasteurised eggs to substitute the use of shelled eggs. The use of pasteurised eggs was encouraged in England and Europe for the following reasons; they were consistent, safe for the consumer(no chance of Salmonella or other bacteria), cost effective, low labour, and minimised the margin for error when handled incorrectly.
When did you realise there was a need for pasteurised eggs in Australia?
A few years ago I was talking to a food authority inspector. He mentioned they were cracking down on the use of eggs in kitchens in Australia because there had been major salmonella outbreaks and food poisoning cases related to eggs. Also, there was a new strain of salmonella that was no longer controlled by proper egg washing methods, because the new strain of salmonella called "salmonella enteritidis" is actually is found in the egg liquid so it penetrates the egg shell, which was freaking the Food Authority out.
I went to purchase pasteurised eggs. However, pasteurised eggs in Australia were very hard to find. When I eventually found pasteurised eggs for the kitchen, they were not viable to use because they were in massive bulk packs and mainly caged eggs. It was that moment that I realised there was an opportunity to supply pasteurised eggs in Australia. With the food authority cracking down on hospitality businesses, I wanted to get a product to my fellow industry professionals that would deliver them the benefits of a high quality egg based products, with the specific purpose of commercial hospitality use. That’s how Eggzi was created.
Tell us about the free-range eggs in your range.
I wanted to work with farmers whose practices and values aligned with my own values. At Eggzi, we wanted to create a business where our consumers knew we sourced fresh free range eggs from farmers who deliver the most pristine, high quality eggs that money can buy.
What inspires you most about the regional Australian free range egg farmers you have sourced from?
The thing that inspires me most about the farmers we have chosen, is that they live by the same moral foot print that I do. Animal welfare is a high priority, and the farms they have created are excellent environments for the chickens.
These farmers are inspirational and they’re the hardest working people I have ever met. They’re up early hours of the morning and finish late at night to deliver sustainable free range produce to the consumers.
Apart from being the best in regional Australia in terms of ethics and sustainability on their farms, they are always happy to help and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
What’s the plan for Eggzi?
The plan is to be the leader in all egg based products with a focus on provenance, safety and animal welfare. So far the range includes Free-Range Whole Eggs, Pasteurised Chefs’ Egg Yolks and Pasteurised Chefs’ Whole Eggs. Shortly we will include Dessert Egg Whites, and Salted Egg Yolks. The long term goal of the business is to develop the range and expand into retail
Just for fun, can you think of a time you’ve pulled off a culinary miracle?
I can recall an occasion where I was part of a team of chefs that were catering for about 800 guests. The first course was a mushroom soup which we started heating, only to soon realise that somebody had put the truffle oil in the soup during production.
The truffle oil had somehow fermented and made the soup go rancid. Putting our heads together we managed to scratch up enough prep and stock to create and serve a soup for 500 people in about 30 minutes.
That was pressure!!
And lastly, what are your favourite restaurants in Sydney?
The thing about Sydney is that we are spoilt for choice, there are so many great restaurants but these would be my go to restaurants.
LuMi Dining (For a modern twist on Italian)
The Apollo Restaurant (Great casual dining)
Quay Restaurant (Unique experience)
Tetsuya (Institutional restaurant)
Pendolino (probably biased with this one… haha)
Radio Cario (Great local)
One of the striking characterstics of Mark is his authenticity. When Mark talks about ethics, sustainability and animal welfare on farms, he really means it. Mark has taken the time to carefully select high quality free-range eggs, produced by sustainable, ethical farms for the range available at Eggzi.
Eggzi has chosen a range of free-range eggs with unique flavour profiles. Eggzi's pasteurised eggs are safer for kitchens, bars and restaurants because they significantly reduce the risk of bacteria contamination that can cause salmonella. For confidence in the kitchen or bar, choose Pasteurised Egg Yolks, Pasteurised Bartender Egg Whites, Sweet Chef’s Egg Yolks, Salted Chef’s Egg Yolks, Chef's Whole Eggs or Pasteurised Whole Eggs. Discover Eggzi’s range of regional Australian free-range eggs and pasteurised eggs here.