Molly Marino Zemek grew up in a family where everything revolved around food. There is a popular saying that the sure sign of a true Italian is someone who starts thinking about what they will have for dinner before they have even finished eating breakfast. Molly was not the first person in her Italian lineage to become a Chef, and she certainly wasn’t alone in her family when she would wonder aloud “what’s for dinner?”.
This strong gravitation towards food took her on a circuitous path. It began with the demolition of her first birthday cake, followed by experimental baking sessions in her Mother’s kitchen, then later to scouring every cookbook she could get her hands on. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, she made the most of her dorm’s makeshift kitchen, and spent a semester abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico searching for the seventh mole.
It should have dawned on her when, during a post-grad program in Chile, she was more preoccupied with the lack of interesting food options than her actual course of study. But destiny often has a funny way of revealing itself. It wasn’t until she was knee deep in Latin American literature, on her way to getting a Masters, that she realized her coursework was getting in the way of her true passion. It took a small leap of faith before deciding to turn what her parents labeled a “hobby” into a full time career.
She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in London with a dual diploma in Classical French cuisine and patisserie. Her first five years upon graduating were spent learning the ropes in various restaurant kitchens, and gradually working up to sous and pastry chef positions at AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five Star rated establishments. These years taught her not only the technique of hot, cold, savory and sweet applications but also the ability to perform under immense time pressure without sacrificing quality of work. Indeed, she credits time management as one of the most invaluable skills she learned during those years.
Several other experiences during that time supplemented her training in the kitchen. She attended a series of workshops taught by the industry’s leading pastry chefs at The World Pastry Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following year she was selected to help create a five course meal at the famous James Beard House in New York City. Within the next two years she was part of a team of Chefs who prepared and served meals to foreign and domestic leaders during the 2004 G-8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia.
Over the last five years she has worked as a private Chef, developing her own recipes and style of cuisine. Her philosophy is that food is an essential part of the cycle of life, and that through cooking and eating people are not only nourished, but also more connected to each other and the world they are a part of. Her cuisine pulls from her experiences working with different ethnic cuisines, but tends to be simplistic and centered around the best quality ingredients she can find. She puts an emphasis on seasonal produce, whole grains and naturally raised fish or meat. And since dessert is never far from her mind, there is almost always something sweet on the menu.
Recently she has had the opportunity to further advance her culinary knowledge by attending a two week Flavors of the World trip throughout Vietnam. She also participated in the 2008 World of Flavors Conference: Mediterranean Flavors, organized by the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. In the last year she completed a course of study through the Washington Wine Academy and became certified by the British Wine and Spirits Education Trust with advanced comprehension in understanding and tasting of wine and spirits.
Molly lives in Virginia with her husband Alex, who is big fan of weekly pizza night and all things served on Molly’s menu. Alex is a published photographer, and responsible for all of the beautiful photos you see on this site.