Who is this girl?
Hi!! My name is Marina Boldrini Rivelis and this story I am going to tell you seems to be repeated over and over among several cooking websites. However, this is what brought me here, so my apologies in advance if you find it a little bit of a cliche.
I had the privilege to grow up in a family where we had a homemade meal daily. It also happened that my mom had an amazing corporate career and had a busy schedule, and yet would find ways for us to eat real food daily. My dad didn’t cook but he was always involved doing groceries, and with my sister, would be next to my mom every night while she was cooking because we wanted to spend time together and talk about our days and homework. Naturally, with time I began helping her out with the food preparation and to be very opinionated about food (among other things). When I was around twelve years old my mom would call me from her office and ask me to help her start making dinner. I just loved that the process of making food was seen as something very natural in my family.
Two interesting things I want to point out about this story. First is that I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina (with Italian and Spanish grandparents, you get the idea that this mix turned into a whole lotta craziness LOL). I understand that many people think that in some countries people are taking naps and working 5 hours a week. Unfortunately that is not the case where I come from. You work around 10 hours per day or more, especially if you are a professional and have a corporate job. In Buenos Aires, a normal time to leave the office is 7 pm or later. Second, I attended a bilingual school from 7.30 am to 5 pm everyday from first grade and until I finished high school (plus extracurricular activities). And yet, with my mom’s busy job and everyone’s busy schedule, we always had dinner at home, together, as a family. I consider myself very lucky and I felt this was normal. To be honest, this is one of the nicest things that I love from my culture, cooking together, spending time in the table conversations before and after dinners. We call the latter “sobremesa”. It doesn't have a proper translation, but it means something like this: spending time with people in the table after eating. This is something that I think about frequently now that I live with my own family in the United States.
Now that I am a mom, I am the one with the responsibility to feed not only myself but my family. I hear people complain that they don’t have time to cook, that they are in a constant rush, and that they all feel exhausted when they arrive home on weeknights. I can definitely relate to that feeling, both nowadays and reflecting on my childhood, because I think that my parents felt the same way too, and yet they would find a way to cook and have a homemade dinner as a family almost every night.
Aside from our very busy agendas in the modern world, I personally believe cooking real food at home has become almost a lost art for the following reasons: i) It’s difficult to learn to cook when you didn’t have the benefit of experiencing “at home”; ii) it can be hard and even terrifying to put a meal together when you don’t practice the art of cooking often; iii) maybe you did grow in a family where a member of it cooked but you didn’t feel in love with it; and iv) the exponential growth of industrial pre-made frozen dinners, processed foods and fast food restaurants have, through years of marketing campaigns, made us believe that what they offer is “natural”, “healthy”, “homemade”, “organic”, etc. etc.
Fortunately, people are increasingly aware of the importance of what we are putting on the table for dinner and, no matter what your diet is (Paleo, Gluten Free, Plant Based, etc. etc), that the only way to eat good meals is to go back to the kitchen to cook real food! By real food I mean food is actually made at home, with no shortcuts. It can be simple or really elaborate, but it is truly made at home.
So, what happens now? Many find themselves trying to get into the kitchen, either because they want to or because they feel the need to make real food for them and/or their family. If you feel like this, know you are not alone.
That is the reason I am here for you! My main goal is to help people cook more!!! I want to work with you to show you how you can find time to make your own meals! I want to show you that you can put together a great meal in a very short amount of time - definitely in less time that will take you to go to a drive thru or waiting for a meal at a restaurant!! And, if by no means you can or want to get into the kitchen, I can also provide you with real food meals.
Turning the Hobby into a Business
Like I explained above, food and cooking were serious business growing up, and this also turned into a real passion for me, especially as an adolescent where I started creating and exploring different dishes. I have always been a very anxious person, yet I always found cooking relaxing and creative. I would make “tapas nights” for my family with mussels and endives with blue cheese with pecan nuts, or try to make a chocolate mousse cake for dessert. My favorite thing to do at 17? Go to a restaurant to have “caramelized pork and jumbo shrimp with brown rice and stir fried vegetables”. I know that this dish sounds typical theses days, but all this happened around 1997, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that time, the gourmet scene was just starting to appear with young Chefs in new restaurants that began combining different styles of foods.
I remember the day I sat down at my mom’s big office and told her I was planning to drop off Law School to become a Chef. She told me she was ok with that, but mentioned that in the end, Banking, Law or Cooking were pretty much the same. I asked her how, and to prove her point she asked: “are you ready to make 10 chickens taste the same way every night?, that is being a cook”, she said, “you need to be consistent and make the same food mostly every day if you are in a restaurant, and in the end, it is not different from being here sitting in an office and doing over and over the same thing every day”.
At that time, being a cook was mostly seen as something where you needed to be in a restaurant for long hours and that was it. It was just the beginning of the expansion of the cooking career (and globalization) where you could do so many different things, so I took my mom’s point. Also, I was scared not to follow the (apparently) path of the typical career. I left her office and went back to Law School.
Not only did I finished Law School, an became an very good professional in that field, but I also pursued and LLM and a MBA!!! I worked really hard during my years in Law and accomplished a great career for my age. I loved it and enjoyed it very much. However, cooking was always there.
One day, not only my “legal career” changed, but my whole life! We moved with my husband from Argentina to the USA for him to pursue his MBA. What a reality shock that was. I couldn't work! After 10 years of working every day for long hours I found myself absolutely lost. I didn’t know what to do and felt lost. We were with a student visa and was no able to continue with my career. My therapy as usual? I cooked, a lot.
Back in my mind I was waiting for our permanent resident card that would allowed me to go back to the corporate world, so I pursued a MBA at Indiana University. At the same time, I took several cooking classes (at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and every time I would be back in Buenos Aires) and obtained a “Plant Based Cook Certificate” from Rouxbe Cooking School. In my mind, all that cooking thing was just for fun.
The permanent resident card arrived and dilemmas grew even more. I was not that girl who went to talk to her mom years ago, but now a woman who needed to decide what to do. At that time my husband got a new job and I decided to become a real estate agent in order to be able to have a more flexible agenda. For 2 years I did very well, I even got a Rising Stars award of my office in honor of my sales achievements my first year.
However, I had this need to do something with my cooking, as it made me feel creative, alive! It is never too late to pursue your dreams, so here I am!! it took me around 20 years to turn this passion into my business.
Do you remember the taste of real food?
I see most chef/cook websites describe their food as “restaurant quality and taste”. In my case, I believe my food tastes better than that, as it is completely homemade and made from scratch.
I have to admit that I notice lots of shortcuts in the restaurant industry in the United States. As I had been raised abroad and travel frequently, my opinion is based on that comparison. So, many times when you think that you are eating a completely made from scratch dish in a restaurant, that is not the case. Most restaurants use canned sauces and foods, preservatives, dressings, marinades, low quality oils, chili, soups, appetizers that come frozen, then reheated and sold “just like mom used to make”. Also saturated fat, sugar and big amounts of salt are added to enhance flavors. This is far from being “homemade”.
My guarantee to you is that I promise my food will not taste like restaurant food but much better! Contact me for a consultation and to chat! I would love us to meet and help you fall in love with cooking and homemade food!!
What is my main goal?
I want people to cook more!!! To find the time to make their own meals! I want to show you that you can put together a great meal in a very short amount of time, less time that will take you to go to a drive thru or waiting for a meal at a restaurant!! I believe that not matter what your definition of “healthy” is, anyone would agree that real food, surpasses by far anything processed.
So, what can I do for you?
-You can join me at any of my workshops or we can plan one that fits your needs! For you, for your family, for a fun ladies night!
-For all those very busy people out there, I can help you with meal planning and/or prep according to your needs and likes.
-You can contact me and we can make plans to get together and cook anything you want! It can be just us, with your family, family night plans, friends night over, ladies night. Do you want to learn to make gnocchi? ravioli? Risotto? Paella? Or would you prefer us to put together some easy weeknight meals? I can show you how to make easy weeknight meals so that you can make them very easily in the future.