Mark Coblentz of Starkville is filmed by Broadcast Media Group's Jake Jones in a working studio kitchen constructed for "Making A Chef." The new half-hour cooking show hosted by Coblentz, 15, premieres on Mississippi Public Broadcasting on Saturday, May 5. Mark is the son of Robbie and Bonnie Coblentz. Photo by: Courtesy photo
Mark Coblentz, in cap, and, at left, producer Jake Jones and assistant producer Jonathan Jones talk over shooting an episode of "Making A Chef" with Brent Fountain, associate Extension professor with Mississippi State's Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
April 18, 2018 10:45:48 AM
Mark Coblentz spent this past Monday afternoon like a lot of high school guys -- at spring football practice. Like plenty of boys, he likes to hunt and hang out with friends. But how many 15-year-olds have their own cooking show on television? Mark does.
"Making A Chef" will premiere at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 5 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. It will air again at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 6.
Season One's eight episodes feature the Starkville teen who many followed on FOX Broadcasting's "MasterChef Junior" Season Five in early 2017 and on the Food Network's "Chopped Junior" in late 2015. Mark has also appeared on MPB's "Fit to Eat" and on the nationally syndicated show "Wonderama."
In "Making A Chef," Mark explores the culinary world by visiting with and learning from some of Mississippi's best chefs, cooks and food artisans.
"We pitched the idea to MPB and they liked it," said Mark's dad, Robbie Coblentz. Robbie has Broadcast Media Group, a full-service video production company based in Starkville. He and his team produce the episodes. They even built a 1,000-square-foot studio kitchen for the show. Producing for MPB presents unique challenges, noted Robbie. Production funds don't exist, so a Kickstarter campaign early this year was launched to underwrite shooting the final episodes, completing editing and final color correction and adding closed captioning. Donors met the campaign's $8,500 goal.
"Many people were generous in supporting it, and we really appreciate that," said Bonnie Coblentz, Mark's mother.
In Season One's half-hour episodes, which are focused in Starkville, Mark visits a local produce farm, hones his brisket skills, looks at different types of homemade pizza dough and experiments with toppings, to name just a few topics covered.
At Starkville Cafe he tries his hand at making a traditional Southern breakfast on a griddle. He learns the art of hand-cut fettuccine at City Bagel. He's shown how to mill corn by Restaurant Tyler's Ty Thames. The show features other guests, such as pitmaster Wes Shelton and food columnist Jay Reed.
"Probably making corn into grits was one of the most new or unusual things I did," said Mark, when asked. "(Chef Ty) puts in raw corn that he grinds himself to make grits, palenta, corn flour ... "
Season Two of "Making A Chef" is already mapped out.
"We'd love to go into other parts of the state and show what they're cooking," said Robbie, mentioning potential excursions to the Delta, the Jackson area or perhaps the coast.
"This state has so much to offer in culinary talent," added Bonnie.
Mark is ready and eager. For his age, he's a veteran in front of the camera. In addition to being on regional and national broadcasts, he's been posting cooking videos on his markthechef.com website for several years. The new show is a different adventure. It takes statewide viewers along on the teen's continuing journey toward becoming a chef and introduces them to some of Mississippi's best culinary resources.
"It's fun to learn," Mark said.
Watch for "Making A Chef" on Saturdays beginning May 5 at 1 p.m. and for rebroadcasts at 10 a.m. Sundays.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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