Top chef’s shock death rocks hospitality community
QUEENSLAND'S hospitality community is mourning the sudden loss of Mark Maric, an award-winning chef with "an infectious love of life and food".
Mr Maric, who headed Queensland's best seafood restaurant and was praised by UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, suffered a massive heart attack at his Wishart home, in Brisbane's south-east.
Despite desperate efforts by his wife Mary and eldest son Anthony, and subsequently by paramedics, he was unable to be revived.
The father of four had just turned 50.
"Dad had eaten his favourite meal, sarma (Croatian cabbage rolls), and fallen asleep on the couch when he let out this horrible exhale. Mum and I rushed to him and he had turned purple," said Anthony, 23, a mortgage broker.
"We lifted him onto the tiles, and he was a big man, and we did CPR for 15 minutes until the paramedics arrived. We did all we could," he said.
Mary Maric, 49, is a former tuckshop convenor and the couple has three other children Lauren, 22, Isabella, 17, and Jacob, 13.
Mr Maric was executive chef of The Lure, at Milton's Coro Hotel, when it won Queensland's best seafood restaurant in 2006.
He was a familiar face around Brisbane's top dining precincts and had just started a new job at Victoria Park Bistro in Herston.
"He was such a lovely, generous man, I'm just heartbroken," said Lisa Parker, former manager at The Lure.
Michael Dalton, whose Fino Foods supplies Howard Smith Wharves, Gerard's and other top restaurants, said Mr Maric gave his fledgling business invaluable support in the early 2000s.
"Hospitality is a brutal industry and it's easy to forget, with all the new places opening, the leaders on whose shoulders Queensland restaurants stand," Mr Dalton said.
"Mark had an infectious love for life and food, and he loved to chat.
"He was a pioneer of Asian fusion food in Queensland, and absolutely nailed those sweet and savoury flavours."
A protégé of Neil Perry at Sydney's Rockpool, Mr Maric manned the pans at a string of well-known restaurants, including Dish (which he owned) in Teneriffe, Belvedere Bar and Grill at Portside, and Cloudland in Fortitude Valley.
UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay congratulated him on his food when he dined at O Bar and Grill at Sanctuary Cove in 2009.
"Gordon Ramsay was one of many who were impressed with Dad's cooking," Anthony said.
"Dad loved family, food and football, in that order. He had a generosity of spirit which he gave unconditionally. He was larger than life. We were both Manchester United supporters and watched all the games together."
Shortly after Mr Maric's death last week, Anthony set up a fundraiser to help his family "get back on our feet". More than $5000 was raised in the first 24 hours.
Mr Maric's funeral will be on Monday (March 9) at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sunnybank, with a burial Mt Gravatt Cemetery.
The family has requested donations in lieu of flowers or gifts.