Starting at age 11 as a Boy Scout, Mark F. Sohn cooked near his home in the hills of western Oregon. Over an open fire and in the shadows cast by Douglas firs, he baked biscuits, simmered stew, and scrambled eggs. From that time, he has enjoyed cooking, and in 1987, he studied culinary arts at L’École de Cuisine, a school in Paris, France, owned by Pierre Cardin and Maxim’s Restaurant.
Mark Sohn, Ph.D. and Professor of Educational Psychology at Pikeville (Kentucky) College, retired, has worked as a foods author, recipe developer, newspaper columnist, cooking teacher, food stylist, and photographer. He served as the food and cooking editor for The Encyclopedia of Appalachia , published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2005. Since accepting that position in 1998, he has written about 20 articles on Appalachian food for six other encyclopedias including the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, Scribner’s Encyclopedia of Food, The West Virginia Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.
Sohn is from a family of cooks. As a young man, his father, Fred, worked in Germany as a flour miller, test baker, and cereal chemist. In retirement, Fred was a meticulous avocational bread baker, and Mark’s mother, Frances, cooked everything else. Mark Sohn also has four brothers who preserve, cook, bake, and critique food. The family is fascinated by food, and each is quick to defend a favorite recipe or argue the merits of a particular restaurant.
Mark Sohn has two grown children, Laura Sohn, an owner of the Public House in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Brian Sohn, PhD, and a professor. They enjoy cooking and sometimes use one of their father’s recipes.
To his credit, Mark Sohn has written about 1200 published recipes, and he produced and cooked for more than 450 cable-access television food shows. His 1996 book, Mountain Country Cooking: A Gathering of the Best Recipes from the Smokies to the Blue Ridge, was a 1997 James Beard Foundation nominee for Cook Book of the Year in the category Food of the Americas. Sohn’s other cookbook is Southern Country Cooking, was published in 1992 by Penfield Press. For about 18 years he wrote a column and did the photography for a weekly food column for the Appalachian News-Express. His recipes have appeared in magazines including Saveur and Southern Living, and his food photography has been featured in regional art galleries.