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Marisa Churchill      

Contestant on Season 2 of "Top Chef"; Author of Dessert Cookbook "Sweet & Skinny"; Food Blogger for Huffington Post

Marisa Churchill began to cook as soon as she was old enough to reach the stove. She would spend hours in the kitchen with my yiayia (Greek grandmother). Under her loving guidance, Marisa learned how to make her own yogurt, cure olives, make homemade breads and pastas, and how to create a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes. To this day, both her yiayia and the cuisine of Greece influence Marisa's cooking.

In 1999 she decided to turn a life-long passion for cooking into a career. Marisa moved to San Francisco, and graduated from the California Culinary Academy, later furthering her education in advanced pastry skills and savory cooking at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Over the years she has worked at such notable restaurants as Rubicon, The Slanted Door, Ame, LuLu and Yoshi's, where she was named "one of the city's top pastry chefs" by the San Francisco Chronicle's head food critic Michael Bauer.

Some of the publications Marisa's work has been featured in include: Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, People, Details, Shape, Food Arts, and the San Francisco Chronicle. As well as internationally in Elle magazine, Eleutherotipia and Zaxaroplastiki.

Her televised cooking career started with a few local television stints in San Francisco, and then came "Top Chef" Season 2. Since "Top Chef," she still refuses to "pack her knives and go." Marisa sometimes competes on the show "Food Network Challenge" and can also be seen on various morning shows promoting healthier ways to cook and bake.

Having a personal interest in health and fitness, Marisa began focusing her attention on using natural ingredients to create recipes that were full of flavor, without all the fat. This proved particularly challenging when it came to developing delicious desserts, which are typically full of butter and sugar. But since she dos love a good challenge, she kept at it!

Over the years her low-fat and sugar-free desserts have continued to grow in popularity. Marisa's low-fat chocolate fudge cake was a hit on "Top Chef" and was later featured in Food & Wine. She recently received her nutrition certification through Cornell University, and completed her first cookbook, "Sweet & Skinny." "Sweet & Skinny" features 100 delicious, but skinny, desserts. There are even sugar-free recipes, made with Truvia natural sweetener.

When she's not in the kitchen, Marisa can usually be found enjoying her sport of choice, swimming. Or she is traveling throughout the islands of Greece, giving culinary tours, cooking lessons, or just relaxing on a beach.

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