Our conversation with Chef DeMarco started when we asked him how he knew that he was going to become a chef. "When Ms. Greene [DeMarco's home economics teacher in high school] took the time to take me to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in upstate New York," he told us straightforwardly. "She told me that she had no idea why I played around so much when I had so much talent." We're glad that Ms. Greene took such an interest, because soon after his visit to the CIA, Chef DeMarco filled out an application to enroll there. The result: Today we can enjoy his great cuisine.
After his schooling at the CIA, Chef DeMarco apprenticed under such notable chefs as Gray Kunz and David Burke, both of whom have restaurants -- Cafe Gray, DavidBurke and Donatella, and David Burke in Las Vegas -- that are featured on TravelsinTaste.com. He gained a great deal of culinary knowledge from those masters, but has since gained his own insights and created his own specialties building upon the techniques that they taught him. "I think that [apprenticeships] are very important," Chef DeMarco said. "The biggest misinterpretation is that once you graduate from culinary school, you will be a chef when you're done." Instead, most chefs must continue learning for some time in other people's restaurants -- just like he did.
Despite the importance of apprenticeships, Chef DeMarco continued, culinary schools have plenty to offer young chefs in the way of formal training. "I think that they are great in offering a starting foundation in the industry," he said. "I think that the better the school, the more you learn. However, you must apply yourself."