It’s not every day you hear someone ate actress Blake Lively or singer Adam Levine for dinner. But it’s true. It’s happening now.
Food blogger Marie Saba’s philosophy is you’re never too old to play with your food, and we whole heartedly agree with her sensibility. The Austin native, and former law school student-turned-chef is the founder of the blog Cocina Marie, where she’s been sharing her recipes since 2011.
“My husband John came up with the name, Cocina Marie. ‘Cocina,’ pronounced ‘co-SEE-na’ means kitchen in Spanish, and is a nod to my part-Mexican heritage and its influence on my cooking. Over the years I’ve heard people say it ‘co-CHEE-na,’ which actually means ‘dirty pig’ in Spanish. So basically the name of my blog name is either ‘Marie’s Kitchen’ or ‘Marie, the Dirty Pig’, which is hilarious and awesome and humbling all at the same time.”
Marie’s been in our sights since early 2012. She first caught my attention when she graciously responded to my desperate plea for a tried and true red velvet cupcake recipe. She even wrote a whole post about our exchange. Beyond flattered, I baked up a batch of her cupcakes, and that is when the clouds parted, birds sang, and we blissfully rejoiced over the best cupcakes I have ever made. They were so delicately tender, so fluffy and made with real butter instead of oil (!) — basically everything I had been searching for in a red velvet recipe. I knew even then that Marie was one to watch.
While Marie’s recipes (both on her blog, and in her cookbook) are fresh and fuss-free, healthy, and totally approachable, what’s really garnered her a rabid following is the totally unique, playful and artistic way she’s plating her food then sharing it on Instagram.
At first, Marie started sharing photos of the cute, yet simple lunches she’d prepare for her precious kiddos, Jack (5 1/2) and Elle (2 1/2) on Instagram. They’ve since evolved into elaborately detailed pieces of edible art that would likely humble Picasso, and Pixar. Almost daily, she dreams up a new vision, then playfully translates it to the plate, making mealtime exceedingly more fun and appealing to her kids.
“When you’re home with little kids all day, you have to get creative,” says Marie. “So I started turning breakfast into an “activity.” I would set out a tray of supplies for the kids and they would snack or play with the food while I ingested caffeine. Then I started playing with the food along with the kids, and it sort of grew from there.”
She’s tackled cartoon popular character portraits and reimagining the finest works of fine art then sampled full-blown vignettes of ocean floors and solar systems, all making their way to the followers of her fast-growing legion of Instagram followers. Each carefully composed plate is like a page from a picture book (and we’re really hoping she’ll make one)!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I think my daughter’s favorite is Elsa. When I told Elle she could “go ahead and eat Elsa,” she seemed a little concerned. As she started to reach for Elsa’s chocolate-chip eye, she turned to me and asked, “Can I eat her eye, mom?”
My son Jack doesn’t have a favorite, which makes sense because he prefers to be in the role of “consultant.” When I was making a squirrel out of bread, he said, “No, no mom, the head needs to have more of a point at the nose.” And he was exactly right! I’m lucky to have him as my helper.
She’s even tackling some of the masters of fine art…
But what’s really causing a social media splash is her spot-on foodie portrayal of some of today’s most popular celebrities from Taylor Swift to George Clooney and the likes of these well-know characters.
Marie most recently caught the attention of actress Blake Lively when Blake left a comment on one of Marie’s photos, begging her to do a food rendition of her and her husband, actor Ryan Reynolds.
Marie happily obliged, and a pretty fun exchange, and a feature on People followed suit.
Blake’s comment on Marie’s Instagram art was equally as thrilling. “It’s like Picasso and Food had a baby and painted me. There is a God.”
“As for my husband, John, I’m pretty sure he thinks I’ve lost it,” wryly states Marie. “When I was working on Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds (at the request of Blake Lively…no pressure or anything!), I was up late in the kitchen one night. He saw me and said, ‘Um, you’re really gonna need to slow down.’
We hope she closes her ears to that husbandly advice. We’re thrilled and amused each time Marie is reminds us that its perfectly okay to play with her food.
Check out how Marie creates these wonders when she was featured on The Rachel Ray Show, here.
And now, my list of 10 Q’s for Marie.
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Real. Easy. Fun.
2. If you could be one blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
Heidi. And I’m not just saying that. From our first real interaction back in January 2012, I’ve been in awe. I mean, her recipes, photographs, food styling, font choices, design sense, and business acumen! How can one woman have so much talent?! (from Heidi: I did NOT pay her to say this! 🙂 xo)
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
Scissors for food art. It’s much easier to cut round edges with scissors than a knife.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I’m good at organizing legal arguments. Riveting, right?
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Crab cakes—specifically, these.
9. The one secret to your success is?
Passion. I absolutely love cooking, creating, teaching and sharing.
10. What’s next for you? Do you think you’ll write another book?
At the moment, absolutely no plans and I love it! With two young kids at home, my focus is on my family right now. We will see what the future holds!
Thank you, thank you Marie, for being our foodie crush, for making our inner child soar, and our tummy’s roar!
Follow Marie on Instagram, to catch her latest food creations
Visit her on her blog, Cocina Marie
Check out her cookbook, Cooking with Marie: On Any Occasion!
This post is by FoodieCrush founder Heidi and FoodieCrush contributor Hayley Putnam. Follow Hayley and her foodie tastes and other flights of fancy on Pinterest and Instagram.
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