Mark McDonald, Chef, Proprietor
Mark McDonald is an internationally recognized chef, restaurant owner, and restaurant consultant.
Chef Mark’s passion for introducing unique foods and wines to customers and clients is built on collaborations with winemakers, sommeliers, and culinary professionals from around the world. He is a chef instructor at the Italian Culinary Institute, Italy, and is frequently invited to international culinary competitions as both a judge and a participant. In recent years he has taught master courses and given presentations at gastronomy events and festivals throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America.
In 2007 Chef Mark opened his award-winning restaurant, Old Vine Cafe, in Costa Mesa, CA. His menu offerings reflect a commitment to regionalism and the use of local seasonal ingredients, a hallmark of Chef Mark’s culinary training under Master Chef John Nocita at the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy (ICI). Chef Mark now partners with the Italian Culinary Institute to lead the annual Splendors of South Italy tour, a culinary-driven trip through Calabria and Sicily that treats travelers to hands-on cooking lessons from master chefs, winery and agriturismo visits, and multi-course meals of regional cuisine. The first Splendors of Northern Italy tour launches in 2016.
Chef Mark also supports his local community. He can be found teaching cooking classes to both young “aspiring chefs” at local elementary schools, and adult students pursing professional culinary education at the Culinary Lab Contemporary Cooking School.
Stacy Drakos, General Manager
Stacy Drakos has more than 25 years of experience serving and managing at fine dining restaurants in Chicago and Orange County. After moving back to California Stacy graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology, and worked for restaurants and hotels including The Ritz Restaurant & Garden, the Harborside Restaurant & Grand Ballroom, and Wildfish.
Cesar Orozco, Manager
Cesar Orozco brings more than a decade of food service and management experience to Old Vine Cafe. Cesar’s background reflects his extensive “front of the house” knowledge; throughout the years he has held positions ranging from expediter to manager. Prior to joining the team at Old Vine Cafe, Cesar worked at Pinot Provence, Marche Moderne, and Ten Asian Bistro.
Kate Perry, Sommelier-Wine Director
Kate Perry has more than 15 years of fine dining restaurant experience in Southern California. She earned her start working her way up at the Ritz Carlton at age 18, and then moved on to The Club Grill and Morton’s over the next several years. Kate is a level 2 Sommelier, and WSET Advanced Certified. Kate’s passion for wine and customer service is unparalleled, and her energy on the floor is contagious.
Shatha Bajalli, Sous Chef
Chef Shatha’s organizational and training skills are unparalleled. She is seasoned in all kitchen positions, and is known for her ability to shape and mold aspiring cooks. Shatha has been a part of the OVC family for over three years.
Cassandra Gruber, Baking & Pastry Chef
After mastering her technical skills working baking and pastry production for Disney among other OC institutions, chef Cassandra joined the team at Old Vine Café. Her meticulous, precise and creative approach to her craft is second to none. Cassandra has been a part of the OVC family for over two years.