At Home with Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant

In a city of notable restaurants where popularity is often based on the “new” and the “now,” one venerable spot continues to hold its own. Since 1993, One Market Restaurant has served as a favored dining destination for locals and tourists alike—remarkable longevity in today’s fast-paced, focus-challenged world. Restaurateurs will concede that maintaining a restaurant’s popularity over the course of 30 years is not an easy proposition. Yet One Market’s co-owner and executive chef Mark Dommen makes it look easy.

Classically trained, Dommen’s modern take on American cuisine has helped the restaurant maintain a consistent presence on the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100” restaurant list. With 25 years of kitchen experience—the earlier years spent in some of the world’s most distinguished restaurants—Dommen blends the freshest, seasonal California ingredients with definitive French techniques. He enjoys experimenting with ingredients to create entirely new and unexpected dishes, and much of that experimentation takes place within the Napa Valley home that he shares with his wife Debra and two teen daughters, Sydney, 16 and Riley, 14. A bountiful backyard garden and an outdoor kitchen, complete with wood fired oven, serve as an incubator of sorts for the dishes that he serves at One Market.

Chef Mark Dommen shares a meal with wife Debra and daughters Sydney and Riley

When he and his family like a result, it will likely end up within a One Market menu item, such as a yuzu kosho made from his backyard yuzu trees, or oven roasted figs with ricotta cheese, aged balsamic, and wild flower honey. Conversely, his family is the appreciative recipient of some of One Market’s most popular dishes, such as bacon wrapped pork tenderloin. “It’s a signature dish at One Market and when I make it at home the kids love it,” says Dommen, whose additional favorite at-home dishes include paella, smoked pork belly BLT’s with home grown tomatoes, steaks cooked on the Argentinean grill, and whole fish. Riley in particular loves her dad’s halibut grilled on a cedar plank. Both girls—and their friends—also love his fire blistered pizzas; his pizza parties have become nearly legendary amongst Napa teens.

Dommen’s pizza parties are a hit with his daughters and their friends

Sydney and Riley have unsurprisingly come to know and understand varied culinary aspects at the heels of their famed father. They know the proper cooking temperatures for meats and fish, and are the first to call out when a dish is overcooked. They recognize “umami,” and appreciate the flavor that their dad’s fish sauce marinade gives a grilled steak. “I do love that steak with fish sauce,” says Sydney. “And I love his pasta with pesto home made from basil in the garden.”

Sydney Dommen helps her dad in making oven fired pizzas

The Dommen garden is the source of many of One Market’s ingredients, such as fresh rosemary, oregano, mints, lovage, chives, garlic chives, and flowers. He grows an assortment of tomatoes, cucumbers, and chilies. He also grows items with which he’s unfamiliar, such as burdock root. “If I come across something that sounds interesting, I’ll try and grow it,” says Dommen, who taught himself to graft fruit trees. His backyard features fig, avocado, pear, peach, lime, lemon and apple trees. He takes any excess vegetables or fruits to the restaurant for use in One Market dishes.

One Market’s aura appeals to a variety of diners and is as perfect for a celebratory dinner as it is for a business lunch. Muted hues and soft lighting are juxtaposed with large picture windows that overlook the city’s urban energy. It’s a large space, and a far cry from Dommen’s bucolic home environment, though aspects are shared. Just as One Market guests are invited to dine at the kitchen counter where seating allows for observation of the masterful culinary choreography, Dommen’s backyard set-up allows for family and guest interaction, as he skillfully tends the outdoor oven.

Chef Mark Dommen preps a meal in his backyard kitchen

“Our backyard kitchen was actually finished a year before Covid hit,” says Debra. “During Covid, after a long day of us all being on Zoom meetings in separate rooms, we’d gather outside by the kitchen. We’d watch and help Mark cook, catch up on the day, and enjoy dinner outside. Many times it was followed by family games. I’m happy to say we’ve continued the tradition.”

All photos by Dave Bazzano

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.