Before Marie Hejl really learned how to cook, she starred in a local Austin cooking show: The three-episode series, filmed when she was 10, continued to run while she was in college. Now the 29-year-old is known for Cooking with Marie, which debuted in 2005 on Austin public TV and now airs in 80 cities from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Auckland, New Zealand. And in March she will publish her first cookbook, Cooking with Marie on Any Occasion.
On her show and in her book, Marie focuses on simple recipes perfect for easy entertaining, like tangy chicken and cheese enchiladas. Shooting in her dad’s kitchen adds to her approachable girl-next-door appeal, as does her playful style (she opened one show on a skeet-shooting range). About half the time, she invites guests to cook with her, including top Austin chefs: Alma Alcocer-Thomas of Jeffrey’s showed her how to make crème fraîche, Uchi sushi maverick Tyson Cole (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) demonstrated how to fillet a fish. "Part of the show’s appeal is the idea that if I can do it, so can you," Marie says.
Jim Hejl designed his open kitchen with a huge island facing the living area. It’s ideal for entertaining since he never has to turn his back to guests. Coincidentally, it’s also the perfect space for filming Marie’s show.