Pictured Left to right: Danielle Scott, Owner of Great Scott; Rena Frost, Chef & Owner of Mac’s on Main; Harvey Cogdill, Mac’s on Main General Manager.
Sitting down with Rena Frost, Chef and Owner of Mac’s On Main in Grapevine and Mac’s Bar & Grill in Arlington, for about an hour flies by in what seems like 5 minutes. Her exuberant smile and personable nature are instantly engaging, and her passion for what she does – not just as a chef and restaurateur, but her desire to help others in her community – is contagious.
Born in Seoul, South Korea to a Korean mother and Texan father in the military, Rena attributes her passion for cooking to her mother, who is quite the cook herself. She attended high school in Texas and also Hawaii, which is where her best friend’s mother taught her the Poke recipe she uses to this day.
While earning her degree in accounting at The University of Texas at El Paso, Rena worked for a restaurateur who operated ten restaurants. After ten years as an accountant and CFO in the oil and gas industry, she returned to the restaurant business in 1992 working for the founder of Mac’s for 20 years. She then bought Mac’s in 2011, and made it a family affair by bringing her brother, Harvey Cogdill, in to help run the business.
Rena married her forever boyfriend, Howard Frost, nearly 20 years ago, and together their blended family includes children, Jamie, Heather and Ari, and grandsons, Christian (who works at Mac’s), Ryan and Tyler. As if family and work don’t keep her busy enough, she is also brand ambassador for Aussie Meat & Lamb and Chef’s Roll.
Last year, Rena added another helping to her full plate when she decided to help spearhead the first annual Dine To Donate benefiting GRACE. It all started when another local charity event unfortunately lost a significant sponsor, leaving one week to fill a sizeable void in time for the event. Doing all she could to procure the needed contributors within the time constraint, Rena still wound up shy in her attempt to help the event organizers.
“It bothered me that a significant fundraiser for GRACE (with no costs to them) was not going to happen, and that they would miss out on funds to distribute to people in our communities,” she explains. Unable to get the situation off her mind, she felt a strong need to use her resources and talents to come up with yet another way to give back. “I came up with an idea, and discussed an independent restaurant week with my husband – he encouraged me to go for it.”
She reached out to her friends, Next Bistro Owner Ying Aikens and her husband, Tom, and Josh Matheus, General Manager at Boi Na Braza Grapevine, who expressed they were on board with whatever she chose to organize. Rena then contacted GRACE, and got connected with Chief Development Officer Mark Woolverton and discovered another individual, Elizabeth Huffman, who was interested in a similar undertaking. Together Rena and Elizabeth and her husband, John Huffman, decided to co-chair, and by the time they reached their deadline seven restaurants and a local brewery had joined in the effort. And quite the effort it was as Dine to Donate garnered the title of “Best Restaurant Collaboration of 2018” by Southlake Style Magazine.
“GRACE always came to my mind when a local charity was mentioned because they had so many resources and special programs that could help, not just a particular segment of the population, but everyone that needed help. That was really important to me as my family is not only multicultural but we also have different religions, so being inclusive, as GRACE is, was the perfect fit for me to help.”
This year Dine To Donate has grown to include eight restaurants, a culinary partnership with Valerie’s Thyme, and four participants offering Sip To Donate! A charitable idea conceived and given life through selfless hard work has resulted in this now annual GRACE Event. The grassroots style of focusing on independent establishments within the community has proven successful, and several groups, publications and sponsors have pitched in with promotion, advertising and menu printing at no cost. Rena credits each of the contributors for the event with a deep and sincere desire to give back. Having her participants’ deeds and devotion to helping others recognized through last year’s “Best Restaurant Collaboration” award was just icing on the cake.
Rena and her team have contributed to the community countless times over the years, and they always do so with humble, compassionate hearts. From stepping in as food sponsor for Beth Israel’s Casino Night fundraiser, Dancing for the Stars, Diveheart Veterans’ Day Lunch, and much more, to VIP Room Sponsorship at Grapevine Main Street Fest and GrapeFest, Rena’s commitment to build up others and nurture relationships spills over into all that she does.
With a philosophy of “everything from scratch” using the finest and highest quality ingredients possible in her kitchens, Rena has certainly followed through with Dine To Donate in the same manner – founding the event from scratch and inviting the best folks in town to partner with GRACE. We admire her leadership and fervor for helping others, and cannot begin to express how truly grateful we are for her and everyone involved in GRACE’s very own restaurant week!
Dine To Donate runs from March 22nd through the 31st this year at Boi Na Braza Grapevine, Ferrari’s Italian Villa & Chophouse, Great Scott, Loveria Caffe, Mac’s on Main (offering lunch and dinner), Mason & Dixie (lunch only), Next Bistro (lunch and dinner), and Wildwood. You may also contribute to GRACE by sipping on specialty beers and wine flights offered at Hop & Sting Brewing Co., Malai Kitchen, Messina Hof Grapevine and Umbra Winery. Be sure to mention you would like to “Dine To Donate” when booking your reservations.