She was ten years old and it was cherry pie. It’s the first food Marianne Forrest remembers preparing from a recipe. Oh, she’d been observing and lending a hand in the kitchen for quite some time at home and at Grandma’s, but this was her first recipe and Marianne remembers it well. She also remembers her first mistake – using three times the almond extract the recipe called for. Her siblings couldn’t finish it, but her mother praised her pie’s ‘unique’ flavor. That pie launched a lifelong passion for creating innovative, memorable food.
Marianne calls it Education in Application. Drawn to the restaurant business, Marianne confidently moved into new positions, every one requiring more reading, cooking, and learning as she worked her way toward independence. From Indiana’s first vegetarian bistro to the upscale restaurants of California, her confidence grew along with a growing repertoire of her own recipes.
On to the last best place, where Marianne’s fondness and appreciation for small, independently owned restaurants blossomed. Downtown Missoula, Montana in the late 1970s was the place to be, and Marianne put her talents to good use in the creative restaurants that flourished in that environment. She was determined to be independently employed while raising daughter Claire, and launched her own business in the 1980s as the aptly named Independent Catering and Desserts. It was during these years that Marianne also began to earn her reputation as a private chef.
In March of 1994, Marianne opened the Hob Nob Cafe with a lot of determination, hard work, and just two weeks’ notice. Despite running out of everything in the kitchen that first night, the wildly popular eatery remained a favorite in downtown Missoula for many years. The responsibility and delight of nourishing people night after night has never lost its appeal for Marianne.
Ms. Forrest’s next successful venture was Marianne’s at the Wilma, which opened in March of 1999 to even more accolades and awards, including Most Beautiful Restaurant in Montana. Everything Marianne had learned on her personal journey came together in this establishment – that elusive combination of ambiance, food, and personalities that make a winning restaurant.
Today, Marianne serves as a private chef to discriminating individuals all over the West, specializing in contemporary American cuisine. She is driven and inspired by a conscious desire to create something innovative, not just something you had last week. Her knowledge and understanding of food production and preparation is unparalleled.
Marianne takes inspiration from and is a credit to the culinary giants who went before her. The legendary Julia Child once said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Marianne Forrest continues to do just that.