Profile: Mark Burgess, stir fry extraordinaire

There are some defining Wheaton experiences that every student goes through during his or her four years at Wheaton. In addition to swimming across Peacock Pond, ordering a stir fry from Chase employee Mark is another uniquely Wheaton experience. Mark’s witty banter and delicious stir fry have charmed many students, making it no wonder that there is always such a long line at the stir fry station when he is working.

Mark Steven Burgess, who was born in Saint Marie, MI, has always had a passion for cooking. “I’ve been cooking off and on for most of my life,” he said. His first job was as a dishwasher in a restaurant, where he earned valuable cooking skills. “It was an old mom-and-pop type place,” Mark remarked. “So that basically made me assistant chef. Because on the slow times the old lady who worked out back and made the meatballs… would draft me to help her do stuff. So I actually learned a lot of stuff from her.”

Although born in Michigan, Mark grew up for the most part in Brockton, MA, and he discussed moving around a lot as a kid. “As a younger child I was an army brat so I moved around all over the place,” he explained.

Mark’s passion for cooking eventually led him to be a cook in several different restaurants. After that, Mark worked as a driver until he saw an ad in the paper for available jobs at Wheaton’s dining halls and seized the opportunity. “I enjoy cooking, and it’s not as high pressure as a restaurant here,” Mark stated.

Mark’s fondness for cooking was not the only factor in his decision to come to Wheaton. Being a parent of four children, Mark enjoys being able to influence and joke around with college-age students. “I like messing with the kids. That’s the big perk for me,” he said. He also often gives helpful life advice. Mark said of Wheaton students, “It’s always fun to try to influence their lives a little bit. Maybe give them a little more straightforward advice than their parents could give.”

Mark’s friendly attitude is not only directed towards students, but to anyone else who happens to enter Chase. He particularly enjoys messing around with the touring students, although he likes to give them some sound advice as well. “You can give them insights to the school that they might not get from administration,” he noted.

Some might be surprised by Mark’s taste in food. “Honestly, I don’t like stir fry,” Mark said casually, completely ignoring the irony in this statement. Nevertheless, Mark recommends beef and teriyaki sauce, with some onions for flavor.

Mark currently lives in East Taunton with his wife. In the summertime, they work on swimming pools together. Mark can be found in Chase at 2 pm to 9:30 pm from Tuesday until Saturday, for those seeking a bite of good food and a helping of honest advice.