Growing up in an Italian and Hungarian household, Mark fondest memories were of slow-cooked, traditional dishes. Arnao’s interest in the culinary world was first sparked at Sonessa’s, a small, family-run restaurant where his mother worked, in Philadelphia’s Italian Market District. Tom Sonessa, the chef and owner, took Arnao under his wing as an apprentice; from age 9 to 18, Arnao honed his culinary skills, working closely with Sonessa.
It was in 1993 that Arnao first decided to pursue a career as a hotel chef, to experience how a larger corporation operated. His hotel career began at the Sheraton Hotel Society in Philadelphia, where he learned all aspects of culinary hotel operations, assisted in seasonal menu writing and cooked in all kitchen stations. This initial experience yielded additional hotel opportunities, including a position as banquet saucier at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, which was re-branded as the St. Regis in 1999. During this transition, Arnao took the helm, guiding the team through its transformation. His responsibilities included staff training, menu writing and implementing service standards.
After a successful tenure in Philadelphia, Arnao moved to New York, where he was promoted to executive sous chef at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton Central Park. Under the leadership of Gabriel Kreuther, voted Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2003, Arnao helped maintain the hotel’s Five-Diamond, Five-Star rating, and Four-Diamond rating for the restaurant Atelier. He then became chef de cuisine at The View restaurant located on the top floors of the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, where he brought seasoned culinary skills to a large-scale revolving restaurant whose focus was a New York-centric menu.
Arnao then applied his diverse experience at both small and large-scale operations to his new position at Marriott Downtown and Roy’s New York collaborating with Chef Roy Yamaguchi. Then having to close Roy’s, he was able to re-concept the remaining 85 West restaurant into one of downtown’s great places to watch a game.
Once completed in the transition of the restaurant and bar at the Marriott Downtown, Mark was looking to further his career he ventured to California to open The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Here he opened two luxury hotels in one building as well as was running 110,000 square feet of conference and meeting space.
After a great opening and a few years later, an opportunity presented itself to Mark, to return to New York as the Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Central Park and step in, to concept and open the newly constructed Auden Bistro.
Not only leading some of the best hotels, Mark was elected President of the Escoffier Society of New York, a non profit that awards scholarships to up and coming culinarians by furthering their education.
After five great years at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park Mark took on leading the team at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York ranked as a top Platinum Club of America. Here as the culinary director Mark ran eleven eateries ranging from a pool side snack bar to the fine dining club house, banquets and golf outings. While there he was in charge of a full renovation of the club house from kitchen design and contract negotiations.
From the Westchester Country Club Mark moved to one of the world’s finest hotels, the iconic St. Regis Hotel located in Manhattan New York. Here he took on the duties as the director of culinary leading the team in all aspects of the food and beverage. While maintaining the classic feel Mark was able to modernize the food offerings and bring in a top-level clients by creating an extravagant dining experience.
Now as the Owner and Chef of The Frogtown Inn & Butter his passion shines through in all aspects of the Inn and restaurant. Recognized as the best in the Poconos he continues to stand behind the line and make sure all the food and beverages are up to the best standards while he also inspects rooms and makes beds