Celebrating Local Chefs: Chef Marianne Rosica-Brand

Highlighting local Chef Marianne Rosica-Brand, the Director of Food & Beverage Education Programs at the New York Kitchen in Canandaigua.
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Chef Marianne Rosica-Brand (left) teaching a class at the New York Kitchen. Photo provided by the New York Kitchen

Chef Marianne Rosica-Brand is the Director of Food & Beverage Education Programs at the New York Kitchen in Canandaigua. She passionately teaches culinary classes at the New York Kitchen and also enjoys building onto family recipes at home, working as a team with her husband and two daughters. Her past experience includes working as a sous chef at a fine dining restaurant just south of Hammondsport and being part of the opening team for Esparanza Mansion in Branchport. The New York Kitchen is a nonprofit that strives to promote and celebrate the local farms, craft beverages, and culinary community of the Finger Lakes. We hope you enjoy Marianne Rosica-Brand’s responses to our local chef FAQs!

Edible Finger Lakes: Could you please describe to us your favorite creation? 

My two daughters, my husband, and I created a pasta recipe that has changed and evolved over the last several years. It is one of my favorites, not only because it is delicious, but it is also the culmination of our creative tastes and ideas. We have always cooked as a team at home—and each time we made this dish, one of us would suggest a new ingredient or step. We call it Pasta Alfresca. It is legendary in our family circle and loved by many close friends.

EFL: What do you love most about your job?

I love that my job is all about creating creative opportunities for those people who are ready for a gentle stretch that will spice up their lives. I want to inspire, motivate and create a space for new creativity.

EFL: Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?

I am currently the Director of Food & Beverage Education at New York Kitchen. I had stepped away from the culinary world when my daughters became active teenagers. I was the sous chef at a fine dining restaurant just south of Hammondsport and before that I was part of the opening team for Esparanza Mansion in Branchport. My first jump into the restaurant business from the kitchen side was when I opened up a coffee shop that turned into a bakery and grew into a café that we named after our daughters—Café Alfresca. The New York Times named it one of their five favorite restaurants in the Finger Lakes.

EFL: When did you first become interested in farm-to-table cooking?

When we were running Café Alfresca we were doing Farm-to-Table before it was a catch phrase. My Italian-born grandfather always had a garden. He took great pride in everything that he grew, and he was quick to share his bounty with neighbors, family and friends. The fresher the ingredient, the better the taste. 

EFL: How does where you work now utilize local and seasonal ingredients?

At New York Kitchen, our mission is to educate, engage and excite people through New York’s wonderful agriculture, including both ingredients for cooking and craft beverage. We source, to the best of our abilities, locally grown and raised products. In our Tasting Room, we serve only wine and craft beverages made in New York State. 

EFL: Could you please name a few local food producers you work with now or have worked with in the past? 

Bostrom Farms, Lively Run Dairy, First Light Creamery, Doan’s Honey, Amazing Grains, Love Beets, and more!

EFL: Why do you think utilizing local and seasonal ingredients grown and produced in the Finger Lakes is important?

One of the many take-aways from 2020 for me is to appreciate what one has in their own community, sometimes right in your own backyard. Local farmers and small businesses need our support. Together we can be a stronger economy. Not to mention that we have such amazing quality.

EFL: What’s on the top of your mind right now?

How can New York Kitchen become an even larger part of our community? Cooking is such a wonderful confidence builder—how to create more opportunities.

EFL: Could you please describe your favorite cooking technique? OR Could you please describe a recent memorable experience related to cooking? 

I offered to help friends of mine and taught their 13-year-old daughter a one-to-one cooking class. It was one of the best 90 minutes I have spent. She was a bit nervous at the beginning, yet I could see her confidence building as we covered different steps and cooking techniques. At the end of the class, we had a delicious meal and a young woman with a bit more confidence. It reminded me of what I truly enjoy about cooking—sharing a kitchen and being able to create something special.

EFL: Is there a recipe for home chefs that you’d like to share?

My Pasta Alfresca recipe as developed by my daughters (Alana + Francesca), husband and I. 

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