Although he wasn’t sure he wanted a career in the food business, UMass Amherst gave Marc a jump start on becoming a successful restaurateur and Iron Chef.
When I was at UMass it was early 2000s and the campus was, I think, in one word to describe it, it was electric. I had already had a couple years working in restaurants. With my father being a chef, I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to go to UMass just to spread my wings a little bit. I majored in psychology at one point. I majored in forestry at another point, but there was a moment at UMass in my kitchen on 39 Hobart Lane, where I was cooking dinner for my buddies and girlfriends. It was that moment that I realized, as I was having fun cooking, why am I trying to get away from this just because my dad does this. This is what I like to do. It just turned out that UMass had a great HRTA program. My next year, my junior year, I enrolled in the HRTA and the rest is history, I guess. Chris Blumlo and I, we went to UMass at the same time. He was, I think, a year, maybe two years above me. I had all these creative things going on in my head, but I really needed somebody to kind of get them focused and figure out how much this is going to cost or what's that going to cost and we took a giant, giant, giant leap of faith. It just all fell into place. Slowly, things started to turn. We got a Michelin star and then I won the next Iron Chef. We went from 9 employees to 20 employees to 30 employees. Now we're at, give or take, 50 employees. I don't think a week goes by where I don't run into somebody from UMass, in particular almost, in the hospitality business. Our first hire was a woman named Miriam. She went to UMass. It's a testament to the teaching and the type of person that goes to UMass. It's really an impressive legacy, and I'm always so pleasantly surprised every time I go somewhere or read about someone that, oh yeah, they're a UMass grad. My name is Marc Forgione. I'm the chef/owner of Restaurant Marc Forgione. I stand for happiness, and I stand for UMass.