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Marisa Churchill
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Marisa Churchill began to cook as soon as she was old enough to reach the stove. She would spend hours in the kitchen cooking and creating delicious treats with her yιαyιά (Greek grandmother). It was under her loving guidance that she learned how to make yogurt, cure olives, make homemade breads and pastas, and how to create a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes. To this day, both her yιαyιά and the cuisine of Greece have a significant influence on her cooking.

In 1999 Marisa decided to turn a life-long passion for cooking into a career. She moved to San Francisco, and graduated from the California Culinary Academy, later furthering her education in advanced pastry skills and savory cooking at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Over the years Marisa has worked at such notable restaurants as Rubicon, The Slanted Door, Ame, LuLu and Yoshi’s, where she was named “one of the cities top pastry chefs” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s head food critic Michael Bauer.

Seeking some adventure, Marisa took her cooking career to the small screen. Her televised cooking career started with a few local television stints in San Francisco, and then to Top Chef Season 2.Today, you can still find Marisa occasionally competing on the show Food Network Challenge, and also on various morning shows promoting healthier ways to cook and bake. She is also the host of the PBS show The Cooking Odyssey.

After Top Chef, Marisa took her passion for the culinary arts and coupled it with her personal interest in health and fitness and began focusing her attention on using natural ingredients to create recipes that were full of flavor, without all the fat and sugar, proving to be particularly challenging when it came to developing delicious desserts.

Over the years Marisa’s delicious low-fat and sugar-free desserts have continued to grow in popularity. Her low-fat chocolate fudge cake was a huge hit on Top Chef and was later featured in Food & Wine. Marisa recently received her nutrition certification through Cornell University, and completed her first cookbook, Sweet & Skinny. This deliciously colorful cookbook features 100 delicious, but skinny, desserts. There are even sugar-free recipes, made with Truvia natural sweetener, for those of her friends, and those of you, who can’t have sugar.

Marisa’s work has been featured in several publications including: Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, People, Details, Shape, Food Arts, and the San Francisco Chronicle. As well as internationally in Elle magazine, Eleutherotipia and Zaxaroplastiki. When Marisa is not in the kitchen she can usually be found enjoying her sport of choice, swimming. Or, she is traveling throughout the islands of Greece, giving culinary tours, cooking lessons, or just relaxing on a beach.

Entries by Marisa Churchill

The Fantastic World of Barton G

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 10:10 AM

When Charlie Bucket first stepped into the Wonka factory in the original Charlie & The Chocolate Factory film, he entered a garden filled with edible buttercups and chocolate streams, and my culinary fantasies were ignited. I dreamt of winning a golden ticket and discovering a place just as sweet, just...

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Simple Summer Treats

(0) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 9:04 PM

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Now that summer is finally here, I've been doing a lot of outdoor cooking. I'll take any excuse to fire up the grill instead of turning on the oven! The one exception for turning on the oven is when I'm making whoopie pies....

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The Best Spots To Eat & Drink In Athens

(1) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 3:55 PM

I spend a lot of time in Greece, especially in Athens, where I have friends and family. My familial roots (on my mother's side, hence the last name of Churchill and not Paraskevopoulos) always seem to draw me back. But I'd like to think that even if I didn't have...

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Sour Cherry Cheesecake for the 4th of July!

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 4:21 PM

As I drove to Monemvasia, I kept thinking about something my friend Katilena had said to me before I left Athens. Katilena has this wonderful British-Greek accent. When she speaks it's like listening to a young Judi Dench, if Dame Judi had spent years speaking a romance language like Greek....

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Chocolate Pudding: The Perfect Dessert in a Jar

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 2:28 PM

I have a problem. Depending on who you ask, they might say I have more than one, but right now I'm referring to my inability to say no to any food that is presented to me in a jar. I first spotted this trend three years ago, at a restaurant...

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PB&J Popsicles

(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 10:15 AM

After last week's trip to the villages of Zagorohoria I have been obsessed with using the local honey I purchased. If you happened to read last week's post about my traipsing up a goat path in search of local honey, then you can probably imagine why I'm putting it in...

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The Villages of Zagorohoria

(4) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 6:56 PM

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Although I consider myself to be a city girl at heart, there are only so many days of crowded metro rides that I can take before I need to get away. Let's just say when the urge to get away hits, it's time...

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How To Make Your Own Elderflower Syrup

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 3:33 PM

Elderflower syrup is something that I have always loved, and wished I could make myself. For those of you that have never tasted a drink made with elderflower syrup, it can only be described as summer in a glass.

I remember visiting friends in Germany last year, where the...

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Do It Yourself Granola Bars

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 11:46 AM

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With a new breakfast section in my upcoming Sweet and Skinny cookbook, I've been thinking lately about ways to make breakfast fun and good for you! One of my favorite recipes is for these simple do it yourself granola bars. I love them...

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Kea, Greece's Hidden Gem

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 4:25 PM

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A mere breath away from Athens lies the small Cycladic island of Kea. It's often overlooked by its more prominent siblings, Mykonos and Santorini. Kea does not reveal its secrets easily. It's more an island for Greeks to visit, rather than an...

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Discover the Island of Mykonos

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 3:50 PM

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I fell in love with Greece years before ever having set foot in the country. I still recall the exact moment. I was sitting quietly at home, sipping a glass of crisp white wine. I was watching a movie on TV called Shirley...

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Easter Haystack Cupcakes

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 5:16 PM

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If, like me, you don't think you'll have time to prepare anything for Easter this year, this recipe will save the day! I'm making a batch of tasty haystacks using dark chocolate and shredded wheat. By placing them into paper cupcake liners the...

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Delicious Coconut Easter Cupcakes

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 4:46 PM

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I suddenly realized that Easter is less than two weeks away. This realization has put me in a bit of a panic. What should I wear? What should I do? What will I make? I'm sure I'm not the only one out there...

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Stepping Into Spring

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 1:48 PM

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Spring has finally sprung! March 20th marked the first day of spring. Of course depending on where you live, maybe Mother Nature hasn't gotten the memo yet. Much of the U.S. is still covered in snow. But I'm celebrating the start of spring...

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Exploring the Los Angeles Food Scene

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 4:21 PM

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Los Angeles is often overlooked as a culinary destination. Or at least, it's often overlooked by me. When I travel to LA for work, I don't think of it as a city I need to explore as a foodie. But on a recent...

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Exploring the Peloponnese

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 10:57 AM

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After my recent olive grove/olive oil manufacturing explorations in the Peloponnese, I decided to spend some more time in the rugged mainland part of Greece, called the Peloponnese. The area is rich in culinary and cultural history. It's also...

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The Top Food Trends for 2014

(1) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 9:12 AM

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2013 was the year of the ramen burger and the cronut. It was the year that kale made a comeback. Steamed, tossed into salads, in chip form or in juice form, kale became our go-to green. Now that 2014 is...

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How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 12:24 PM

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I realized the first time I tried to bake a cake in Greece that readily available vanilla extract was something I had taken for granted in California. In Greek supermarkets the most common form of vanilla is a white powder...

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Making Olive Oil in the Peloponnese

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2014 | 8:56 AM

Even though the Peloponnese is only an hour's drive away from Athens, it's as if you're entering another world, or at least another country. Concrete boxes are replaced with olive groves, and the words "traffic jam" tend to mean that a group of goats have convened, gathering and blocking the...

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Christmas in Berlin

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 3:48 PM

Most of us have just taken down our Christmas trees and welcomed in the new year. But as I am just now getting around to writing about my fantastic trip to Berlin this past Christmas, you'll have to bear with my holiday cheer a bit longer. I don't think it's...

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