What’s Her Secret? Marina Cortese of Oats & Ivy

There’s a popular saying you’ve likely come across during your studies at school or in the work place and that is Big things comes from small beginnings. This rings true for our latest subject Marina Cortese, owner of Toronto take-out kitchen and juice bar Oats & Ivy. A holistic nutritionist by trade, Cortese’s began Oats & Ivy by selling delicious and healthy boxed meals out of a bike cart in the city’s trendy Liberty Village neighbourhood. Needless to say, she’s gained a loyal food following and “ poof “ in a blink of an eye took her culinary business indoors where locals can fuel up on her healthy, fast-food meal midday year round. Read on and learn more about this seriously successful woman.

Astrological sign: Capricorn

Kale Chips or Kombucha (you can only pick one): Kale chips

Flashdance or Dirty Dancing: Easy…Dirty Dancing

Cats or dogs: My cats would be mad if I didn’t say them but I secretly want a dog

What made you decide to take Oats & Ivy from a mobile food cart to a permanent home, in the form of a store?

It was a necessity really. You can only grow so much when you’re limited to a bike cart. It’s also not sustainable in Canada due to the weather. We wanted to expand our menu, have a real home for customers to come to and start laying the foundation down to develop our brand.

Do you recall the very first customer to walk through the doors of Oats & Ivy?

We have so many amazing regulars who came through our doors those first few days. I’m so grateful that they keep coming back day after day! My mom was probably one of the very first ones to come through the door though.

Oats & Ivy

You’re a whiz in the kitchen, but we’ve all had moments when a carefully constructed meal has gone awry “ yikes! Can you recall a time this happened to you and how did you fix it?

Whiz might be a bit generous but I can hold my own. I tried to bake a peach pie one summer. I attempted a fancy lattice top and ended up burning the crust beyond recognition. I fixed it by simply eating the remaining peaches on their own. Ha ha!

What are three easy and simple ways we can all eat healthier?

  1. Eat fresh, real foods whose ingredients you can pronounce and recognize. Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules’ expands on this.
  2. Visit a farm. When you see how your food is raised or grown you develop a connection with it and start to care more about our whole food system “ from the farmers to the land to your own health. You start to ask questions about how the food got to your plate.
  3. Learn how to cook. Of course, I’d love if everyone ate every meal at Oats & Ivy and it may not be everyone’s favourite activity but I think it’s an art and a basic necessity that we’ve lost touch with. Once you learn a few simple meals it’s a lot easier to stay healthy because no one stocks their home kitchens with “natural flavours” or maltodextrin, or any of the other chemicals and preservatives we see mucking up our foods today.

Finish this sentence: I want women around the world to ___________.

I want women around the world to have the same freedoms and opportunities as so many of us in Canada do.

What are three things in your wardrobe you cannot live without and why?

Skinny jeans “ they look good with everything! Super high heels “ I’m 5’2″ and like to pretend I’m tall and Lululemons.

If you could create a recipe for happiness, what would it contain and why?

I’m not sure about universal happiness but my happiness recipe is as follows. Equal parts friends and family. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of sunshine. Eight hours of sleep. Equal parts adventure and relaxation. Sweeten “ to taste “ with music, frequent traveling, being outdoors and laughter. Whisk in (optional) a gin and soda with a heaping of cucumber and lime. Bake until golden brown.

Name one famous person (dead or alive) whose kitchen you’d like to raid?

I would absolutely die to just stand in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen. That or Jamie Oliver’s garden!

Tags: Gordon Ramsay, interview, Jamie Oliver, Marina Cortese, Michael Pollan, Oats & Ivy, what's her secret?

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