Simone and Mark met in the Spring of 2015 and instantly knew they shared a passion for hospitality, sustainable dining, and Italy. Their bond was cemented over a long weekend in May spent visiting the farms and purveyors of the Hudson Valley during the development of the La Pecora Bianca menu.
Mark Barak is the owner La Pecora Bianca and the co-owner of Claudette, a Provençal restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village.
After 12 successful years in the business world, Barak decided to leave corporate life behind and pursue a career in the hospitality business. He is opening La Pecora Bianca in the summer of 2015 with a commitment to offering sustainable and wholesome Italian fare, true to the traditions of Italian cooking.
Barak's passion for Italy and its cuisine was sparked during his eight years living in London, when he had the opportunity to travel throughout Italy while working in the media industry. At the Cortina, Lake Garda, and Milan homes of his dearest Italian friends, Barak experienced the local and seasonal traditions that are at the heart of Italian cuisine, and was inspired to bring them back to New York City as La Pecora Bianca.
Before opening Claudette and La Pecora Bianca, Barak received both his undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania's renowned Wharton School of Business and worked at Deutsche Bank, EMI Group, Alpha Media Group and for the NBA.
In his free time, Barak sings jazz standards and enjoys traveling to new destinations throughout the world as often as he can.
Simone Bonelli is the executive chef of La Pecora Bianca. Bonelli developed a passion for cooking at a young age while growing up in Modena, Italy. He spent every afternoon after school at his grandmother's house, where he helped her prepare fresh pasta, simmer tomato sauce and care for her backyard chickens.
In 2001, he received a call from chef Massimo Bottura of the then controversial restaurant Osteria Francescana, which would eventually be named the second best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino in 2015. Bonelli quickly rose through the ranks at Osteria Francescana, becoming an essential part of Bottura's team as sous chef. During his tenure, the restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars.
In 2008, Bonelli moved to New York City to become executive chef at the traditional Italian restaurant, Perbacco in the East Village, which was awarded two stars by The New York Times' restaurant critic, Frank Bruni in 2008. He then worked at several restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan such as Giano, Boulud Sud, Fabbrica and Saraghina.
Bonelli currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife, Michelle, who is the wine director of Blue Hill restaurant. When he's not at La Pecora Bianca, Bonelli enjoys racing his motorcycle, caring for his and Michelle's two daschunds, and playing the trumpet.