French tastemaker Marie Eiffel started her company back in 2013 – with zero capital and experience running her own business. However, she did have an abundance of energy, a legacy from France, and a purpose:
To give Americans real food the French way, for a better life with joie de vivre.
From farm to table
Marie spent her early years in France, where both her father and grandfather were bon vivants. They loved wine, and enjoyed traditional French food in some of the most inspiring bistros in Paris.
The ability to cook and enhance flavors wasn’t shared by her mother. However, her mother held the belief that food was fuel to good health, and always put the best ingredients on everyone’s plate.
This contrast in Marie’s family dynamics shaped her young palette, and planted a seed of purpose in her heart for taking care of people with delicious food made with love.
“My father was from Normandy, where fresh cream was a part of most dishes. When I moved out early, I asked myself: How can I create a relationship with him? I had just a tiny kitchen, but I learned how to make a tarte tatin and to serve it with fresh cream. I perfected the dish. To the point that my father would come on a regular basis to eat some. And we started to communicate. This is the power of cuisine. I cherish the memory of him lovingly eating, and putting a big spoon of the tarte covered with cream in his mouth. And his eyes could tell me how happy and satisfied he was.”
From pain to purpose
In Paris, Marie trained as a classical musician, and then became a successful actress on stage and on television. In the early 2000s, she decided to move to New York to study at the Actor's Studio.
Marie’s decision to move to New York was one of the best she's made, but soon realized that acting wasn't her true calling. Living in Manhattan, she started consulting for various companies. And while she found herself doing well, she began to feel she could be doing better and decided to take a break from her busy life to recalibrate.
She packed up all her art, and moved to a house she was renting in the Hamptons. This was also the year that Marie died in a horrific car accident, but was miraculously brought back to life – then spent 20 months in the hospital.
Marie was no longer the same person, and had to separate herself from her past life to rediscover who she was. She became a hostess in a restaurant, and took the next 8 years to regain presence in her body – and purpose in her life.
"I woke up one morning and decided I was going to give this a shot and moreover, make it work. What I love the most is growing and contributing. Now when I receive texts from ‘difficult’ customers who say my vongole was amazing, it just makes my day."
From purpose to plate
In 2013, a friend who was a private chef was visiting in a small apartment, and told her about a deli for sale down the street.
One thing led to another, and she saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with her roots and start a gourmet food store in the Hamptons. She quickly realized there was a market for delicious natural French food in the small bohemian island community of Shelter Island, which is frequented by artists, actors, and creative types.
To date, the Marie Eiffel Market has fed everyone from Anne Hathaway to Bradley Cooper, and people around the world covet Marie’s cuisine.
"I am all about creating a lifestyle. One that affords you the freedom to eat well without gaining the kind of excess weight you get at restaurants or when eating poor quality cuisine. To deliver my purpose, my food is made healthy. No cream, no butter, no gluten.
Onion soup should be onion, and you have to hear the onions sizzle! If you order my carrot soup, you taste carrots. No extra ingredients. I’m not reinventing the wheel – I’m making comfort food, just like grandma makes it. Doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, salmon, or stew - it’s going to be simple, elegant, and tasty.”
From Marie's kitchen to yours
Looking towards the future, the Marie Eiffel Market has shifted from exclusively fresh food to frozen items and flours that can be shipped and delivered, which her clients in the Hamptons increasingly want. Today, Marie and her partner Jason's waterfront store makes homemade French food like Marseille-style bouillabaisse, lamb stew, fresh croissants, fresh pastries, and more.