Portrait of a Jamaican Renaissance Man: Interview with Ice Artist Mark McKenzie

Mark McKenzie is an award-winning ice sculptor and founder of Ice and Fruits in Ft.Lauderdale, Florida. The multi-talented ice artist, chef and musician is a modern-day Renaissance man. Mark’s talents unite our community with his love of art, music, and food. This is how he began his journey.

Family Life

Mark McKenzie grew up in sunny Jamaica, and one may wonder how this Caribbean genius became one of the top ice artists in the world. The sounds and sights of Jamaica had a profound influence on his creativity. He started pencil drawing the stunning scenery of Negril while sitting on his veranda. Every day he would copy different natural elements of Jamaica from its beaches, mountains and valleys, until these scenes were imprinted in his memory.

He had fond childhood memories of music and booming stereo systems filling the streets of Montego Bay. These sounds inspired him to become a bass player. And it was the tastes and smells of his mom and dad’s Jamaican home-cooking that sparked his chef’s palate.

Early Beginnings

The young future artist grew up surrounded by ingenuity. His mother worked as a dressmaker, and his father a painter and a carpenter. Both of his parents cooked for the family, and everyone would delight and marvel at their exquisite culinary gifts. Mark’s artistic parents were supportive and encouraged his innate talent and interest in the arts and food.

In 1990, Mark graduated from Anchovy High School in St. James, Jamaica. His secondary studies involved an intense focus on art and nutrition, earning him an honorary certificate. That same year he was awarded an internship at the prestigious Sandals Resort in Montego Bay. It was at Sandals where the young chef found his love of ice sculpture.

Chip Off the Old Block

A two-week internship soon turned into a job offer as a pantry cook at Sandals. One fateful day, he noticed the chef he worked for carving an ice sculpture. Mark watched him sculpting the ice, and he knew that he could do this. A few days later, the young 19-year-old eyed a block of ice sitting outside.

Leaving the kitchen, he marched into the chef’s office and took his chainsaw. The first image that came to Mark’s mind was that of a fish. Mark could draw exceptionally well and form pictures in his head. He chiseled the shape of the fish into the block of ice. Nervously, he didn’t know what to expect, since the entire staff would notice his impromptu sculpture. To his delight, everyone showered him with words of praise. And that was how he got his start in becoming one of the top ice sculptors in the world!

International Recognition and Travels to the States

After spending two years at Sandals Resort, Mark was offered a chef’s position at the Swept Away Resort in Negril. In only a year, the young chef became Executive Sous Chef at this luxurious hotel. He earned a gold medal at the Jamaican National Culinary Competition at the Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios. Culinary scholarships led Mark to travel to Canada and the United States. International success followed, and his culinary career flourished.

Whatever you imagine hardens into reality.

Mark McKenzie
Mark did not view ice sculpture as a novelty for elite resorts but desired to take this art form to the next level. He earned first place at the National Ice Carving Association in Lakeville, PA, with his ice sculpture entitled “Hummering and Hovering.”
Mark McKenzie and his work “Hummingbird and Hovering”.

This piece depicts beautiful natural scenery as a hummingbird hovers over flowers. With its wings spread, the ice bird delicately floats. Miraculously, the artist captures movement as you feel the bird’s wings flapping in the air, and you forget that the ice is still.

After numerous competitions and artistic displays, Mark made his way to Florida in 2017, and created the company called Ice and Fruits located in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Ice and Fruits provides customized carvings created out of fruits, vegetables and ice for any occasion. The ice carvings include lights, delivery and set up! You can find out more information at http://www.iceandfruits.com.

Mark’s Music & Production Company

Mark’s artistry doesn’t stop with ice sculpture and the culinary arts! He is a talented bass player and formed his own production company called Ifrolix! The Ifrolix studio hosts live events like comedy, karaoke, a reggae band and more. They also provide party space rental and have a recording studio. For bookings, more detailed information and a listing of events visit https://www.ifrolixtv.com/

So if you ever need a person to cater an event,  sculpt ice and play the music for it too,  get in touch with Mark McKenzie, our very own local Jamaican Renaissance man. 

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Megan Rebecca

Megan Rebecca

Megan Rebecca is a classical pianist, singer, composer, writer and music promoter. She holds a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance. As a performer, Megan has played at many local venues and theaters as both a classical and contemporary performer. She has performed at clubs such as the Open Stage Club in Coral Gables, Jazid in South Beach, and has given recitals at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Megan Rebecca is active in the music community as a performer and arts activist and has published articles on music, education and travel. She has also published a thesis comparing and contrasting the music of Disney and Japanese anime.

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