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Linkie Marais      

Chef, Next Food Network Star Season 8 Finalist

Linkie Marais exudes a passion for life and it is evident in her cakes, food, art and her ability to create beautiful things. Her resume includes creating specialty cakes and desserts for such noted individuals as Barack Obama, John McCain, Frankie Vali and Patrick Kennedy. She has cooked alongside Guy Fieri, Giada de Laurentis and of course, her fellow Food Network Stars.

Her story has interesting roots – an immigrant from South Africa, she has been passionate about food as far back as she can remember. Her first food memory is of helping her Mom make a “Welcome Home Cake” when her Dad was returning from the war. Growing up in South Africa brings to mind some great memories – Covering ripening fruit on trees with plastic bags to keep monkeys from stealing it; family and friends gathering at braais (cookouts) where whole sheep were BBQ’d on a spit while singing songs around the campfire; and living where it is OK to “test drive” an ostrich. South Africa’s wide open spaces and beauty made it easy for her to fall in love with the outdoors.

Linkie’s life in South Africa was much different than her new one in America. In South Africa she wore a school uniform and in America she really was given the opportunity to find her own style.

Upon immigrating to the States at 16, her passion for food continued and she began working for a local Tupelo caterer, Billie’s Catering and Flowers, doing just about everything. There she gained entry into the world of decorating specialty and wedding cakes, arranging flowers and creating beautiful events.

As Linkie went off to college she got involved with everything from dance to choir to pageants. She found great success in the pageant world and loved every aspect of it … the only drawback was that she could not be the winner of State Pageants since she was not yet a United States citizen. Linkie went to college pursuing a degree in Public Relations knowing that she wanted a career interacting with people. When she was awarded a full scholarship to Mississippi University for Women, she fell in love with their Culinary Arts Program and changed her major.

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree Cum Laude, she married a fellow South African and moved to Oxford, MS. She walked into Ole Miss Catering with an incredible portfolio of cakes. They said they were looking for a pastry chef and the rest, as they say, is history. Linkie joined Ole Miss Catering and became the bakery manager. Even though she was working as a pastry chef, her bosses knew she was a certified chef. She was asked to go represent the shop in a culinary competition. Linkie went to the competition and the other chefs were not too worried … but her fine culinary skills and competitive nature came out and she won the whole competition!

In 2010 she relocated to Massachusetts and took some time to set up her house. Massachusetts proximity to the beach, mountains and incredible national parks allow Linkie and her husband the opportunity to spend much of their free time in the great outdoors. She took her impressive resume into Montilio’s Bakery in Boston and was hired instantly. Linkie loved being able to concentrate solely on making beautiful cakes and was highly sought after.

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