When she graduated in Philosophy from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Marianne had little idea of which sector she would enjoy working in. A one-year contract as an assistant in French at a prestigious private school took her to London and she decided to stay, loving the buzz of a big city and the opportunities it offers. Following a secretarial course and a first ‘proper job’ in an estate agency, she joined Europa Nostra, a charitable organisation specialising in the protection of the European built heritage, followed by a one-year project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. She always enjoyed cooking, though. “My mother is a fantastic cook, she can prepare a meal for twelve without batting an eyelid. I’m more of a ‘fusion’ cook, and I enjoy preparing meals for two or four people. Presentation is key to me. And home-made ice creams!”
It was Olivier Dubuquoy who gave Marianne her first job in food and wine. She started as a ‘temp’ in the Public Relations team at Sopexa UK, followed by a maternity cover for the Group Product Manager for Fruit & Vegetables. Then Olivier offered Marianne a permanent position in the food department. Over the years, she worked on major above- and below-the-line campaigns for Le Crunch apples, as well as a trade and consumer launch for Pink Lady© apples and Lesieur’s Isio4 oil, summer fruits, lamb’s lettuce from Nantes, and oversaw an EU-funded campaign to promote the benefits of European olive oil in the UK. She also monitored food safety issues, including ‘Mad Cow Disease’ and avian ‘flu.
After fifteen years or so at Sopexa where she became Director of the Food Department, Marianne decided to go freelance and team up with her husband, a TV technology journalist, editing the Inside Satellite TV newsletter and helping him run four-day conferences on at the international TV markets MIPCOM and MIPTV in Cannes twice-yearly. She also organises regular seminars for the Marketing Communications Group of the British Chartered Institute of Public Relations and worked for Italian importer Fine Italian Foods until they were bought out by Castello.
Marianne and her husband recently restored a small village house on the Ionian island of Lefkas. Inspired by Greek produce and lifestyle, her blog www.theroadtoataraxia.wordpress.com talks about food and life on a small island. ‘Ataraxia’ means ‘absence of worries’ or ‘serenity’ in ancient Greek philosophy – it is also the name of Marianne’s favourite South African wine. In life as well as in dreams, philosophy and gastronomy often meet…