Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he’ll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington DC, Rome and Genoa — “and that’s before I turned 12,” he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn’t have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Murphy followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. Following graduation, he apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan’s Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak.
Eager to return to Europe, Murphy flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one and a half years. Afterwards, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Murphy’s skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the States. Murphy still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. “Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation,” he recalls. Following Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a Sous Chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent’s Middle Eastern fantasy in TriBeCa, where he met consultant Georges Masraff. When Masraff joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Murphy to serve as Executive Chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from the New York Times, Murphy headed uptown to serve as Executive Chef of La Fourchette where New York Times critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his “open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad … Looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir.”
In March 2004, Murphy opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc (Tribeca), which won rave reviews both for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list, of which New York Times critic Eric Asimov said “open the hard-bound binder and you might just slap yourself to see whether you’re dreaming.”
Following its success, Murphy opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006, which serves casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous Ditch Dog as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007, Murphy was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the prestigious Time Warner Center where he brought his bistro-style cuisine to midtown. Ditch Plains has also expanded with an Upper West Side location which opened in the spring of 2011. In October 2013, Murphy joined forces with the Gerber Group to open Kingside at the new Viceroy Hotel on West 57th Street, where he debuted his interpretation of New American Cuisine.
Murphy’s restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, and he acts as Executive Chef and Owner. In addition to the restaurants, Murphy also heads up the company’s catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of his restaurants’ locations.
Today, Murphy’s involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants as well, with a regular role as a judge on The Food Network’s highest rated hit CHOPPED as well as appearances on Iron Chef America, Hot Chefs, The Martha Stewart Show, Make My Day, Unique Eats, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Best Thing I Ever Made, The Rachael Ray Show and The Today Show among others. He is the President of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp as well as a member of the Food + Finance High School Industry Advisory Board, the Leadership Council for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012, Marc joined the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences at home and abroad.