Biography of Ice Sculptor Mark Mckenzie
Graduation day in 1990 at Anchovy High School in St. James, Jamaica WI. My three years study in Food & Nutrition had now ended. I graduated in the top 15 with a special certificate out of over 3000 students.
It was now time to continue at Sandals Royal in Montego Bay, where I was sent to do my internship a few months earlier.
At the five star All-inclusive Resort I was offered a position as a pantry cook. Here I was in the cold kitchen where I was first exposed to
ice sculptures and fruit carvings at 19 years old.
Growing up from childhood I did a lot of drawing and I applied my artistic skills and got started to learn ice, fruits and vegetable carvings.
I worked at Sandals for two years learning a lot of different types of culinary skills from some of the greatest Chefs.
January 1992 in moved to Negril Jamaica and started at The Point Village Resort as Chef Gardemanger.(The leader of the cold kitchen that is responsible for salads, dressings, ice sculptures, cold cuts, etc.)
I got a better offer and started at Swept Away Negril in 1993 also as a Chef Gardemanger. One year later I was promoted to the Executive Sous Chef of the Hotel.
I was offered Culinary Scholarships from the Resort to travel to United States and Canada.
On my return to Jamaica in 1995 from George Brown College in Canada, I earned my first gold medal at the Jamaican National Culinary Competition at the Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios.
I worked at Swept Away for three years then moved on to worked for Beaches Negril for two years as the Chef de Cuisine.
I moved to New York City in 1999 and continued my culinary career working for upscaled catering facilities and country clubs.
In the year 2000 I started at Port Washington Yacht Club in Port Washington Long Island as a Sous Chef.
While at the Yacht Club I competed in the French Government Sponsored Salon of Culinary Arts Competition in 2001 at the Jacob Javitz Conventional Center, Manhattan.
I was awarded two gold medals for my two entries.
In 2002 and 2003 while still working at the yacht club I was awarded employee of the year for two consecutive years.
This membership club became one of the top yacht and country clubs on long island with the inclusion of top rated food from the kitchen staff.
In 2003 I joined the National Ice Carving Association (NICA). I went to my very first NICA sanctioned ice carving competition the same year at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio.
Here I was exposed to a different level of ice sculpting that included component carving. The means of cutting and joining by way of fuzing seamlessly and blending in to create the finished sculpture.
I won a bronze medal at my very first ice carving competition. I came back home and now the experience from that first contest turned a new page to my ice carving career.
In 2004 I got out of cooking and started my ice sculpting business called "Cool Way Ice" in Queens New York.
I continued my quest for learning from professional ice sculptors across the United States and the world by researching and travelling to ice sculpting competitions every year from 2003 to 2012.
I did many competitions and earned two first places with special awards among other second and third places respectively.
I got my first ice carving contract in 2007 to sculpt seven Japanese ice buddhas to be used for seven days per week at "Megu" a modern Japanese cuisine restaurant in Tribeca Manhattan.
The business started to grow and I always have the idea to pair ice sculptures with fruit carvings and sell it as a package. The concept took off and sold very well through out the tri-state area.
I also thought of adding other different and original designs to the ice sculpting industry. So I started designing ice sculptures for baby showers, which became very popular especially in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Harlem.
By 2009 to 2011 there were quite a number of video production companies, news channels and college students contacting me for interviews and wanted to know how I got started as a Jamaican Ice Sculptor.
One College student used my interview as a part of the internship in his Journalism Studies, which earned him an A+.
Now it was the year 2010 and I was at work one day when I received a phone call from "The Society of Unique Artists" an organization that recognizes artists that creates work of art in all mediums.
I was invited to a lavish cocktail reception in Manhattan and offered an award for my artistic achievements in Ice.
As a reggae bass player from Negril Jamaica, I did not give up my other craft which I enjoyed doing. So I started my reggae band in 2014 and started doing promotions for that as well.
I started Chef Mark Catering in 2015 and we started getting some high end cocktail parties to do among other styles of catering.
I moved from New York to the state of Florida in 2017 and re-started everything. "Cool Way Ice" is now ice and fruits and the band name remains the same "ifrolix band".