Mary Frances from the food blog Love – the Secret Ingredient and I have been blogging pals for a while now and the food she puts on her table would be very happy over at my place. Some people really know how to put a meal together that has everyone eager to dig in and that happens all the time at Mary’s house, I suspect.
For someone so ‘put together’ I was surprised to learn she was the baby of a family of six children… and the only girl. Wouldn’t you expect her to be spoiled? She’s not, in fact she’s always looking for ways to do things for others.
Mary Frances’ mother was a great cook and she taught her daughter not only the proper way to stir, fold, whisk and more but she also taught her a great love of food – cooking AND eating. She went to Parsons The New School for Design, founded in 1896, where she learned critical thinking skills, honed her talent and rubbed shoulders with some of the brightest artists, designers, architects and illustrators in the world.
Mary Frances began creating her design company while she was in her last year at Parsons. When she graduated with honors, she launched her design firm with Bristol-Myers as her first client. Not too shabby for a young girl from St. Louis.
It’s no wonder that she could marry, raise two sons as well as own an internationally recognized and award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm. Talk about juggling a busy life. She does get a lot of help from her husband, best friend and partner, Steve. I believe he’s chief recipe tester and pot washer.
In 2010 she was invited to Cape Town in South Africa to receive the International Women Entrepreneur Challenge award which recognizes women business owners who import, export goods or services in the international market. Yes, OUR Mary Frances won.
It wasn’t until her youngest son Zach gave her a cookbook for Christmas one year that she thought about creating her wonderful food blog. In the inscription on the first page of the book, he thanked his mother for “the most fantastic food for my entire life.” He went on to say it was her love that made her dishes truly delicious. She kept that thought in her mind and went on to develop LOVE – the secret ingredient-.
Many of us know how much time a food blog takes to create. Like every other blog, there’s the writing but with a food blog you have to start at recipe creation, then shopping, prepping, cooking, styling, photography, photo editing and promotion. I don’t know where she finds the time to get it all done but she does – and brilliantly so.
Many of Mary Frances’ recipes look so inviting that my heart nearly skips a beat. I love butternut squash in any way you could prepare it but this Roasted Butternut Squash with Crispy Sage Leaves caused me to get up from my computer and head to the kitchen. Quality ingredients, cooked simply – simply perfect.
Mary Frances also produced her first cookbook last year, Secrets for a great Thanksgiving you will LOVE and it’s available on Amazon. For anyone who hasn’t had a lot of experience putting on ‘the big meal’ for all the family, Mary Frances tells exactly what and when to get things done so everything is on the table when it should be.
Many people know of my love affair with blueberry pie but when I saw this gorgeous pie on LOVE – the secret ingredient, I thought it was Mary Frances giving me a hug from home. In the post she said she loved this pie because the berries glistened like jewels. Okay, that was enough for me to start salivating and checking to see if I had enough blueberries to get this pie in the oven. I did!
Recently, her youngest son was diagnosed with digestive problems and Mary Frances and Michael were out of their minds with worry. After a few hospital visits, he’s much better but cooking has changed in their household. To help their son, it’s ‘clean’ low fat food like these lovely Chicken Breasts Roasted on Tomatoes and Fennel. I’d love this dish and my inner bits are just fine.
In her leisure time (I can’t imagine she has much) Mary Frances loves to paint, ride her bike and play the piano. Definitely a woman of many talents but none of those are what endears to to me. For me it goes back to that LOVE in everything she does.
Update: I finished writing this post and went to Facebook to say howdy to everyone and I read this!
Mary Frances Pisarkiewicz has been appointed as the new chair of Virtual Enterprises International’s (VEI) New York Advisory Board after serving as a member of the board for five years. Yet another hat our Mary gets to wear.
From Mary Frances’ website:
The only program of its kind in the U.S., Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) is an in-school, live, global business and workplace simulation that serves over 400 schools nationwide and offers students a competitive edge through project-based, collaborative learning and the development of 21st-century skills in entrepreneurship, global business, problem solving, communication, personal finance and technology. Students create and manage virtual (and real) businesses and are transformed into young professionals and budding entrepreneurs.