In The Kitchen With Austin Fure of The Marq
Austin Fure is the young and talented head chef and partial owner of Marquette’s Farm To Table restaurant, The Marq. Spending 12-14 hours daily sourcing, preparing, and serving the best ingredients our area has to offer, each bite of his food is soulful morsel. The dishes you find at the Marq are a reflection of the life he has lived thus far; born from humble beginnings, utilizing choice ingredients, put together with artistry, and infused with passion and a multicultural consciousness.
Fure was raised here in Marquette, one of four children who grew up like many of us in the U.P., on simple home cooking without much exposure to different types of food and cultures. He never foresaw a career in the culinary arts. Cooking was something Fure was just ‘messing around with’ in college while enrolled as an art student at NMU. As friends encouraged him to do more he decided to give the culinary arts program at Northern a try. Transferring his creative talents to the art of food, the suggestion from an instructor led him to get more serious about cooking so, he moved to Providence, MA and entered the Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts.
Out of school he began his journey of experimentation with a 2 year gig as a private chef in Maine and many travels abroad. This exposure to foods and flavors in other parts of the world was a major influence on him as he discovered the different ways that people eat. As he ate, drank, and tasted his way through Thailand, Italy, and Eastern Europe something became apparent to him; the ‘bastardization’ of foods here in the United States.
Inspired by the subtleties and variations of flavors from region to region while traveling, Fure saw that foods in other countries were being sourced more locally imparting specific ingredients to dishes in different areas. This localization of ingredient sourcing, condenses the flavors used in a given area and has created unique dishes for which each region has come to be known for over time. Connections and tastes that can only come from intimate ecosystems of plants and animals sharing the same basic elements of water, soil, and air.
These are the influences that now fuel his craft at the Marq. “If you start with something truly amazing you don’t need to do much to it,” Fures says about using choice fresh ingredients. His enthusiasm to share new concepts in how we eat food is unpretentious and he’s optimistic that our local community is open to trying something different and perhaps, experiencing familiar foods in new ways. Fure is passionate about offering options that are made from the best product he can get, as fresh as possible, and support the local community saying, “If you can make a great restaurant a place that people want to come to and the dollars you’re spending are going back into your community then I think that’s a win-win.”
The reality of serving fresh and local doesn’t come without its challenges though. The changing menu offered at the Marq depends greatly on what’s available on a given week demanding a high level of spontanei ty from Fure to create dishes from the daily offerings of surrounding areas. “It’s definitely a challenge but you know, that’s the fun part,” he says with a smile. He also loves the extra push this gives for people to break out of their habitual ordering practices and try foods they might not have paid attention to otherwise.
Fure is quick to say he is still finding his culinary voice saying, “I think you always are. You’re always trying to get better, learn new techniques, better ways to do things, be more efficient.” For him mastery is about being able to cook something while showing restraint. Simplicity. “To use five things and make that be an amazing bite or plate of food,” he adds. Yet, despite his humility he is doing just that, the rustic penetrating spirit of the U.P. and colorful flavors of worlds far away are equally strong and exciting elements in his cooking. Together they create a dining experience that is elevated yet casual – an extension of Fure himself; construing a culinary voice that defines who his is in this moment and place in time.
“I think it’s about having fun,” Fure says, “but above all, having good food and drink.”