Today Maria DiRico, aka/Ellen Byron, author of Here Comes the Body, A Catering Hall mystery, is joining us at Ascroft, eh?
Welcome Maria. Please share some of your memories of Martha Stewart with us.
Martha Stewart and me
Guess who I used to work for? Martha Stewart. That’s right. The Martha Stewart. I’m not kidding when I say this is the most interesting thing about me. How many people can say they stuffed snow peas and worked an omelet station next to the legendary lifestyle and entertaining queen?
I’ll never forget the first time I met her. I took the train from Manhattan up to Westport, Connecticut to do party prep for an event she was catering. A cab took me to Martha’s now-famous home on Turkey Hill Road. I stepped inside, looked into a gorgeous, antique-filled living room, and saw a woman using a crème brulee torch to assemble a gingerbread townhouse.
People often ask me, what’s Martha Stewart really like? I can only speak to my personal experience with her, and I have to say… I loved her. Those pictures of the lush vegetable garden and spectacular kitchen? That was her house. Her life. Martha was authentic.
Gradually, my cater-waiter days waned. The social x-rays of the Upper East Side decided they only wanted men serving their hoity-toity guests, so us gals were relegated to the kitchen. I eventually took a full-time job at The Dramatists Guild, and my playwriting career began to heat up, which left little time for side gigs. And once Martha’s first book, Entertaining, became a publishing juggernaut – by the way, I’m in early editions of the book, both in photos and the Acknowledgments – Martha did less and less catering until she stopped entirely.
The last time I talked to Martha was in the Nineties when I was writing the My First Job column for Glamour magazine. (Sidebar: Martha’s first job was as a stockbroker, although she modeled while in college.) Martha and I chatted for a long time, and she gave me updates on many of the people we worked with back in those early catering days.
I think of Martha whenever I’m creating a recipe for my Catering Hall Mystery series. I’d love to see her again sometime. If I did, I can predict what would happen. There’d be a moment of placing me because I don’t look like I did in the 1980s. Then a screech of recognition, a big hug, and a lot of catching up.
In my experience, that’s what Martha Stewart’s really like.
Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Maria. Readers can learn more about Maria and her new Catering Hall mysteries series, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.
The novel is available online at the following retailers:
About Maria DiRico: Maria was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.