30 Under 30: Marnely Rodriguez-Murray, Gourmand, Food Writer, and Baker, Calling MV Home
A Young Lady with a full plate, yet hungry for more.
Marnely came to the Vineyard to pursue her grand culinary dreams, proudly jumping into the highly renowned kitchen at The Vineyard Golf Club after a short stint with chocolatier work in Charlottesville, VA and graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.
She became a fixture in the kitchen and took her learning and insight to pen and paper. Now, just a few years later, Marnely is widely regarded as a pro at all things food, baking, recipe developing and more. She attends major Food and Wine festivals, she blogs for major food brands, she tests recipes, and she spearheads the social media platforms for a few food and beverage festivals and conferences.
She's humbly building her brand, one step at a time and from what we've seen so far, she's just begun, (odds are we're most likely missing something in her long list of accolades and talents). With experience to make any parent, friend, or community proud, Marnely has ambition and hard work down to a 'T'.
Meet Marnely ...
How long have you lived on Martha's Vineyard and in what part of the island did you spend the most time?
It's funny how on island we measure the time by the seasons, so I've been here for two summers and one winter; this will be my second winter and most of my time is spent in Edgartown, where we live and work.
Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I'm originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where I was born and raised. I attended one of the top Hotel Management colleges in the city and graduated with a BPS in Hotel Administration, which led me to fall in love with the food and beverage side of the career. I followed my dream to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where I then went for an AOS in Baking and Pastry. Yes, I spent two years baking breads, making chocolates, and crafting desserts. Freshman 15? More like Freshman 25!
What was it that made you decide to live on MV and make a life on the island?
During the final months of my culinary school degree, the school held a Career Fair where I met Chef Mark Chaput of Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. He was looking for a cook that could bake and I told him I was a baker that could cook. What got me the job? I sent him a handwritten note thanking him for interviewing me! (That being said - I'm a huge supporter of the USPS and think that nothing is better than sending real mail.)
What is your current job and what are your responsibilities?
During the season, I work with my husband Brian Murray at the Vineyard Golf Club. As their pastry chef and in collaboration with Chef Chaput, I create and execute our dessert menu. I'm constantly running around the kitchen making our classic soups and chowders, as well as the desserts. Currently during the off-season, I focus on freelance food writing and engaging with readers on my food blog, Cooking with Books. On the blog, I create recipes, test out products, and share new culinary trends; as a freelance food writer and recipe developer, I work with brands creating unique recipes for their product and acting as a brand ambassador.
Tell me a little bit about the timeline of events that let you to your current job?
I started the food blog after a foodie adventure we had in Las Vegas, NV. It was a huge yearning to share our experiences in Vegas - all the amazing restaurants, desserts, and entertainment! That's how Cooking with Books was born. It's a way to connect with like minded foodies, as well as food companies I love. My focus during this winter has been developing my personal brand's social media, thus my presence on Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook of course!
What interesting projects are you currently working on?
Locally, I'm currently working on the social media and marketing for the 1st Annual Martha's Vineyard Wine Festival, which by the looks of the agenda - it's going to be mind blowing! Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @MVWineFest. I'm also developing recipes for a few companies I can't mention just yet, but stay tuned on the blog for the details.
Are you involved in any other groups/committees on island?
Currently, my time is spent focused on developing the blog, but I am a huge supporter of local food producers like Chilmark Coffee, Martha's Vineyard Honey, and Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate. Eating local products is what I consider research for my food writing jobs!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That's a tough question to answer - my husband and I love the seasonal living aspect of the island because it gives us time to travel a lot. So where do I see myself in 10 years? Still traveling with my husband and writing about food and travel as a full-time career.
Top 3 favorite cookbooks of all time?
When I want to bake, I gravitate towards "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies" by Alice Medrich, which is packed with some of the best cookie and brownie recipes I've ever made, but what I love about it is that it's organized by texture: flaky, chewy, chunky, etc.
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting Kelsey Banfield, author of "The Naptime Chef", a cookbook I go to when I want instant gratification. Her recipes are meant to be cooked "while the baby is napping" but work for everyone that likes a good meal! Kelsey is a long time visitor of the island and we met at Espresso Love to chat about food; I recommend her book to everyone!
And as a wash-a-shore, I've embraced Fannie Farmer as my New England mother. My husband and I have an old copy of "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" that's falling into pieces but always gives us a classic and simple recipe that we can either use on its own or works perfectly as a base recipe.
Extra: Not a cookbook, but a great read is Steven Raichlen's "An Island Apart." Based on the Vineyard and Chappy, Raichlen's story tells the relationship between a loner on Chapquidick and a NYC editor who comes to the island to relax after a rocky divorce. The book guides us to how they fall in love not only with each other, but with the food they cook for one another. Fantastic read that will make you smile since the characters reference to going on dates at Alchemy and foraging for beach plums on Chappy, as well as many other MV experiences.
Top Three favorite recipes of all time?
Such a tough question, since I love everything (everything but rice pudding and okra, yuck!) Below are three of my favorite recipes from some amazing food blogs I follow:
- Homemade Hamburger Helper on Farmgirl Gourmet: love the comforting feel of this recipe, perfect for a cold Vineyard winter!
- Banana Cream Pie Cheesecake on Cafe Terra Blog: great combination of my favorite flavors and textures!
- Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries on Smith Bites: crazy combination made by Sabra, but oh, so good!
Bread and Butter - nothing more satisfying then a warm artisan loaf and cold, salted butter that slowly melts into the bread. I'm a total baker at heart!
Professional Baker & Food Writer