Meet the Author Monday: Marisa Mangani

Marisa Mangani

It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Marisa Mangani, author of Mise en Place: Memoir of a Girl Chef.

About Marisa Mangani:

Marisa Mangani was born and raised in Hawaii. Finding her niche as a culinarian at a young age, she cooked her way to New Orleans and some of that city’s finest restaurants. A pivot put Marisa in the kitchen at World Expo ‘84, and from there she went on to manage high-volume international food concessions and restaurants at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver and Expo ‘88 in Brisbane. She is one of the eight featured chefs in Thrillist’s “Why 8 Top Chefs Quit the Kitchen.”

About Mise en Place:

Disadvantages be damned, I would be a chef someday, and if I had to run into the side of a house to do it, so be it.

Mise en Place is the rollicking memoir of Marisa Mangani, a talented chef who takes readers on her journey through the mostly men’s club of restaurant kitchens as she travels from Hawaii to Oregon, New Orleans, Canada, Australia, and Florida.

Along the way she shares raw revelations: abuse at the hands of her stepfather, stories of love and loss, the pain of stuttering, a great passion for cuisine, and the heady sensations associated with food and motherhood.

Not just a gifted chef, Mangani is a very accomplished writer who brings us into her world with brio and humor. She holds nothing back, as she describes her struggles for acceptance in her field and her stumbles and hard-won successes along the way.

Mise en Place will appeal to all who love food and restaurants, but it’s also a vivid travelogue of the places the author has lived. Mangani has a beautifully hedonistic take on food, wine, and life—and her intense descriptions bring readers front and center into her world as she tries to carve out a living.

Her details of the inner workings of restaurant kitchens are quite enlightening. If readers don’t already know how hard the hospitality business can be on anyone who works in it, not just chefs, but owners, managers, servers, and dishwashers, they will once they’ve walked in Mangani’s shoes.

Mise en Place is a bold, new memoir that readers will find hard to put down.

Author Interview with Marisa Mangani:

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  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? 

I’ve been in a small writing group for several years and those six writers are my writing confidants and friends. From editing to world views to inspiration, they are the perfect microcosm.

  1. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) 

With 61 years behind me now, there is so much retrospect available to me. I have a recent essay called Jellybean where I’m four and wandering Waikiki with my mom and grandmother that is really about my child-like determination (looking for the promised jellybeans) and my dysfunctional family. I have another called Big Sky Country where I contrast my views at eighteen when I lived with my boyfriend and a rock band with my views thirty years later when I show up at the old boyfriend’s house and meet his wife. She was not happy! So I guess I give child-teenager-young adult equal time!

  1. What is your favorite childhood book? 

I loved two series where children were in charge (damn those adults!): The Boxcar Children and the Happy Hollisters.

  1. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do? 

I would not have been able to do this on my own of course, but I wish I’d had therapy sooner because I did not find my voice until I was 39. (because I finally went to therapy) That’s a lot of lost years I could have been writing. Although I did always have stories in my head, I could not get them out.

  1. What time of the day do you usually write? 

I write early in the morning, before work, about 5:30-7.

  1. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing the story? 

Since I write memoir, and typically personal essays,  I normally first get haunted by an emotion or a feeling. This is the shiny thing that gets things going for me. I start to think about the shiny thing and when I feel like there are enough literary objects attaching to it, I sit down and write out the name of the shiny thing, which usually becomes the title. Or, the shiny thing is simply the title and I sit and stare at it and wait for something to attach. This is how my essay, Eating Salad with a Spoon was written. I sat and stared at the title, which had been an experience not having a fork but only a spoon at my new job and how frustrating and nearly hopeless it was to eat my salad, which did align itself with the frustration of my husband being in the hospital during Covid, so the essay became about that.

  1. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing? 

That would be Anthony Bourdain (the king of restaurant reality stories) and Mary Karr (the queen of memoir)

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A comedian, at first. Then when I realized my very bad stutter, I wanted to be an architect. Now I design commercial kitchens, so that’s sort of architecture. And sometimes I’m funny.

  1. What’s your favorite food? 

Anything prepared with love and from fresh ingredients.

  1. If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook? 

Anthony Bourdain and Coq au Vin, (his favorite dish)

To learn more about Marisa Mangani, here’s where you can find her:

Instagram: @marisamangani
Twitter: @marisamingo77

Meet the Author Book Promotion

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketer with a background in the publishing industry. She is passionate about all things related to books and loves helping authors navigate the world of social media for book promotion. She recently launched the course Marketing Your Book on TikTok.

One thought on “Meet the Author Monday: Marisa Mangani

  1. That was very well written and sums up Marissa’s book perfectly. I’ve known her for many years (I took her book jacket photo) and have done some editing for her. I truly admire this woman!

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