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Conversations with Marta Kantorowicz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marta Kantorowicz.

Hi Marta, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Here I am, a Polish immigrant girl with a dream of coming to America and widely opening her wings. I was born and raised in a small town in Poland. I grew up in a house of four strong beautiful women — my sister, mom, and grandma. They’re my best friends and heroes who helped me to become who I am today – a strong, fearless woman who is always ready to jump into unknown journeys. Thanks to them, I grew up in a very creative and lively household. My childhood was a magical time. The house was always filled with the warm, rich and delicious aroma of home-cooked meals and fresh-baked sweets because we were always cooking something. In that kitchen was where my love and passion for food was born. My mom and grandma were excellent cooks. They were old school, making things from scratch with ingredients that were all local and grew out of Polish soil. It was the only way they knew. I’m not even being biased; Polish food is one of the tastiest cuisines in Europe and the world! Some of our traditional dishes are not easy to make. They can be demanding in preparation, use extensive seasoning, and take hours of hard mixing with a wooden spoon. So that’s where I learned to appreciate hard work, local fresh ingredients, and a love for the process. That has always been a part of my formula to create food that is truly magical.

My mom and grandma also not only taught me how to cook with passion but how to live with passion. I’m making sure that comes out in every new concoction I bake and how I live my life. After receiving my master’s degree in organic chemistry, I realized something else was calling my name and like I mentioned earlier that was my passion for creating, so I left my degree behind and decided to open a flower shop.

Why a flower shop? Well, growing up, my grandma had the most beautiful garden and so she inspired me with a creative love for flowers. Plus, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to create and design; and it was! I loved arranging bouquets and literally creating more beauty from beauty.

After two years of running a successful flower shop, my childhood dream had been rising up in my mind and spirit, and I knew that I had to pursue it or I’d regret it the rest of my life. My dream was to one day move to America so I got my visa and started my new journey in my new home to be – Chicago.

After a few years of being a florist and special event planner, I fell in love with all the gorgeous cakes and lavish sweet tables that were a big part of each event. It didn’t take me a long time before making a decision about enrolling in the French Pastry School in my new hometown. That was the most exciting decision, which has changed my life forever. My passion and love for my new craft was now being expressed. My hunger for sweets got even bigger than ever. And here I am today, a Pastry Chef who is creating pastries with passion and executes them with obsession.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Even though my story may sound exciting and even easy, there were plenty of challenges to getting where I am today. I might even sound brave but trust me, as someone who flew across the ocean to a foreign country where I was afraid to speak the language and I was leaving my family and friends, I was scared. But I had a dream. And I worked towards that dream. I started from zero. I put my head down, humbled myself, studied English and worked my butt off in my new life. Whoever has moved from one country to another knows what I am talking about. As an immigrant, I was working twice as hard. To accomplish something in my new hometown, I had to take extra steps and it always took me extra time. No matter what, I never gave up on myself. I’ve always been a strong believer in one main rule – “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I knew I couldn’t give up! I didn’t want to! I made this clear in my mind and that was my everyday fuel for living my dream life. It was a constant learning process to find the right way to accomplish everything in my life. It wasn’t easy at all. Through all my sacrifices, I made it happen.

I remember after graduating from my pastry school, I landed my first entry-level job at the prestigious Soho House in Chicago. I truly started at the bottom there as the pastry cook. I worked and earned my way up the ladder one position at a time from pastry cook to Executive Pastry Chef in West Hollywood and the Executive Pastry Chef DTLA Warehouse. I definitely dedicated my life, sweat and tears to my new career. It was a completely satisfying time for me. And I can tell you success is no accident! It is hard work, sacrifice, learning from failure and persistence. Great things happened for me as I constantly pushed past my comfort zone.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As an artist, I love to trust my creativity and freedom to create something truly amazing. I get inspiration from everywhere. We just need to simply see that magic happening around us. I truly learned my craft from the best — chefs Sébastien Canonne M.O.F. and Jacquy Pfeiffer. I like to call them my “Pastry Fathers.” They have empowered and inspired me to bring the best creative baker out of me. Since I was coming from a traditional baking background, they truly opened my eyes to the infinite creative possibilities of baking. I specialize in being creative with my flavors and design. I love making artistry pastries and unique sweets, but I am also known for traditional indulgence chocolate chip cookies. They’re perfectly balanced with a crisp outside and chewy inside.

When the COVID pandemic started, I knew so many people were going through tough times, so I wanted to use my skills to bring some smiles to people’s faces and taste buds. Out of my own pocket, I started baking my favorite chocolate chip cookies and handed them out to the homeless in Los Angeles. I also offered the free cookies on my Instagram to anyone local who needed a treat to lift their spirits. I baked and delivered over 600 cookies in L.A. It was an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience.

Connecting with cookie lovers online inspired me to launch my own online pastry boutique, MaLA Sweet Treats where I create childhood magic in the form of the most creative, tastiest, and customized desserts for special occasions and more. I also make healthy and vegan desserts as well.

I’m most proud of living my life by following my heart. By never giving up and working hard. It’s surreal to me that people tell me that my story inspires them. I’m humbled, honored and grateful that I can have that impact on people.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
What most people don’t know about me is that my background as a chemist truly gives me an unfair advantage as I have a scientific mind with ingredients and attention to detail when it comes to timing, mixing, and the whole process. Mix that with the creative spirit and inspiration of my grandma, the professional training from my French “Pastry Fathers,” and six years through the intense SOHO House kitchens, and yes, I can make a pretty blissful cookie☺. So that’s me. A Polish immigrant girl who came to the U.S. to chase her dreams. And I did it. I’m living my dream. I keep creating my sweets and serve people happiness through my “sweet” art.

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Image Credits:

Emi Morell Juan M Gallegos

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