The mother of two created the site to allow modern Jewish women to connect through their Kosher recipes, tabletop decor ideas and chic hostess tips,
On the whole, fans consider her to be a sort of “digital best friend”: one to bounce off glamorous entertaining ideas, gourmet Kosher recipes, and stylish Jewish holiday table décor, helping them channel their inner hostess. I have to admit, she worked her spell on me too, being one of the chattier, laid back interviews I’ve done, (at the bottom of an email exchange she wrote: “Effy- I can give u a recipe if you want”… How did she know?).
In a recent interview with the Jewish Voice, Marlene dished with us about food, presentation, and what her family thinks of her newly minted success.
The Jewish Voice: What inspired you to start your site?
Marlene Mamiye: Well, two first. First, the recession had hit and I needed to build a business, or at least find something besides a department store that would keep me busy. (Laughs)
Second, I had always been involved in many community events and charities, but I also always had a desire to create something that I could call my very own. Something in which I could cull all of my previous experiences to cultivate a brand that would connect Jewish women worldwide. After doing a lot of research, TheJewishHostess.com was born!
JV: Your focus is on recipes as well as table decor. How important is table presentation for a holiday meal?
MM: Presentation is key! If you create a memorable atmosphere using flowers, a beautiful table cloth, coordinating napkin rings and dishes and platters, the food subconsciously tastes better. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of time and $$$ doing it. My blog has a lot of easy DIY tips on how to create a great table setting theme on a budget.
JV: Tell us about the documentary films you’re working on.
MM: I co-produced 6 documentary films with Joseph J. Sitt for The Sephardic Heritage Museum, and the 7th one is in production. The first 2 films debuted at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center with rave reviews. My work on the film was the inspiration for The Jewish Hostess. Every single one of our 300 interviewees recalled the beauty of family get togethers on the holidays. When I asked one of the wise elderly women, “What’s the secret to keeping your family together?” She whispered to me “I feed them!”
JV: Culinary-speaking, what is your favorite Jewish holiday?
MM: Hmmm…. for some reason I am so drawn to the holiday of Tu Bishvat. Nowadays, the holiday is a mere afterthought because it occurs during vacation time for many of the Yeshivot. So many of my Syrian born interviewees for the film recalled with such fondness how much fun the holiday of Tu Bishvat was in Syria. More exciting than Purim, the Syrian Jewish parents would start collecting exotic fruits like mango and pineapple for their kids from a month before the holiday of Id Il Jar. Remember Whole Foods was not on the map as of yet.
When Tu Bishvat arrived, these kids would be so grateful and excited to bring their fabulous unique fruits to school, and trade with their friends. No Fruit Roll Ups or Sour Sticks here! My mother in law even recalls that in the early Brooklyn days, her parents continued the tradition and she hung her velvet bag on her bedpost until every last fruit was gone. In an effort to rejuvinate the holiday of Tu Bishvat here in America, I created a gorgeous Tu Bishvat table, which was featured on my blog. I was so excited when Chabad.org reposted it on their site!
Culinary speaking, I love the idea of the Shiva Minim and new fruits being used in main dish and dessert recipes, its funny that whole grains and the fruits of the Torah like dates and pomegranates are now so “in fashion” health wise.
JV: Being a young mom, what do your kids think about your site and what you’re doing?
MM: My kids love that people think I’m some kind of famous person. Once in a while, when I’m not in the mood to cook, they threaten to take a picture of the empty cardboard pizza box and crushed paper cups on the table and expose the real Jewish Hostess on Facebook and Instagram- but look! Now I beat them to it!
JV: Is your husband your favorite food critic?
MM: He is my biggest fan- but he is still waiting for me to be on the cover of Forbes magazine!
Please check out The Jewish Hostess.com for easy gourmet kosher recipes and chic holiday table setting ideas- all at your fingertips!