Photo credit: Yang Vogel
By Steve Sears
Local novelist Mark Vogel has reached back into his days as a culinary student, chef, and food and wine columnist, and released a new book for foodies.
Mark Vogel’s Food for Thought is described on his website (www.markvogel.info) as featuring “159 chapters with a wealth of food history and science, cooking techniques, and over 250 recipes, well-researched, 159-chapter compilation of ingredients & classic dishes, and the technical know-how to master them.”
“Those articles (in the book) are part of the column (Food for Thought) that I wrote over a span of 16 years – 400 of them – so I culled 159 of them and made this book out of it,” says Vogel. “Of course, I had to go over all of them and rewrite them, and tweak them, and retest some of the recipes.” The process took about two years. “Many people don’t appreciate how much work goes into writing a book. How many times you read it over and over and over and tweak it and edit it…you know, you could read it a million times, and the million and oneth time, you’ll find something you missed the first million times.”
Vogel, who works full-time as a Clinical Psychologist at the Lyons VA Medical Center in Somerset County, gives occasional seminars on wine, and is often a featured lecturer, authored three novels within the past four years prior to his latest offering. His first work was titled Crestwood Lake, The Ripper’s Time the second, and Crestwood Lake 2 Satan’s Revenge, the sequel to Crestwood Lake, is his third. He explains the brief sojourn from his novelistic creating. “I had done two horror novels and one historical fiction of Jack the Ripper, so I figured it was time to take a break from horror\thriller genre. And I had all these articles from my food and wine column – a treasure trove of info – so I figured this would be a good time to do that, and then get back to horror,” he says with a chuckle.
Vogel, 57, has always loved food and wine, and in the 1990s he was a Food Network fan, buying cookbooks, learning new recipes, and also took some amateur level cooking classes. He finally decided to pursue it professionally (although not envisioning it as a full-time career, but as a sideline of sorts) and sought a degree in the field. “I then went to cooking school and the rest, as they say, is history.” The 2003 Institute of Culinary Education in New York City graduate worked in the field part-time for a year and parlayed that into teaching others the finer points of cooking. “What I enjoyed much, much more was teaching cooking classes. I could go at my own pace, make one dish at a time, talk with the students – that was much more pleasant.”
Vogel, who has been married for 14 years to his lovely wife, Yang, writes mostly in the morning prior to work, and also weekend mornings. He likes fiction, especially supernatural and historical, because his imagination can roam, and he is not bound by the confines of reality. In fact, he plans a return to fiction writing, contemplating a future work with Satan again as a key character, and is also, in his words, “toying with a thriller.” A visit to his website will yield a list of places where Vogel will be to discuss and sign his current book, including Saturday, April 11, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at The Book Barn, 18 Pocono Road in Denville. No doubt he’ll be happy to discuss with attendees Food for Thought, but also any prospective writings and the writing life itself.
“The sky’s the limit,” he says of writing fiction and, most specifically, horror. “I find it very freeing, being able to take my mind in whatever direction it wants to go, and there’s something alluring about writing about the dark side. Man has a fascination with the macabre. There’s something captivating about the dark side of life for human beings.”
“And writing about it? I find it titillating in a way.”