At The Table With: Mariana Velasquez, Food Stylist & Author of “Colombiana”

Mar 6, 2024

Name: Mariana Velasquez

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Instagram: marianavelasquezv

Favorite Sur La Table Kitchen Tool: Sur La Table Ratchet Mill



Twenty-five years ago, cookbook author and food stylist Mariana Velasquez—whose work can be seen in Saveur, The New York Times and Gourmet, to name a few—could only dream of the life she has now.

“I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia and I moved on my own to New York when I was 17. I wanted to chase this dream of having a career in food. I wasn’t sure how, but I was certain I wanted to work on cookbooks, in magazines, and researching the ritual of the table.

On paper it was such an imaginable combination… now, 25 years later, writing from my home in Brooklyn, I look back and feel elated remembering everything that has happened in between. My husband and I live in a brownstone from the 1800s and, for the first time in all my adult life, I have a real kitchen.”

With a career that spans over two decades, Mariana’s work has taken her from the cliffsides of Big Sur (where she worked as a cook at the renowned Post Ranch Inn) to the streets of Brooklyn, where she spends her days designing editorial-worthy shoots for brands like Breville and Pointy Snout Caviar. Oh, and the White House.

But even that impressive résumé had to start somewhere. And for Mariana, that somewhere is home.

“Both of my grandmothers were amazing cooks. They each had a very different style of cooking—one was Lebanese, and the other was of European descent, and they both taught me how to cook when I was little. Later, in my teens, I discovered how baking birthday cakes for my friends fueled me up. Then I started hosting after-school snacks which we call ‘onces’ in Spanish. Food became my identity.”

It’s a passion that Mariana has carried with her and one that she shares with anyone who wants to pull up a chair. So much so, that she launched her own hostingware brand, Casa Velasquez, where she designs luxury aprons, table linens and stationery for entertaining, all made by small female-owned ateliers in Bogota.

“Whether it is a weeknight ham and cheese quesadilla that I make for Diego [my husband] and I to eat in the kitchen, to the twelve-guest dinner party with a three-course menu—every meal I prepare is charged with the places I’ve been to, how I feel, my inspirations and everything I care about.

My hope is that my food makes others feel nurtured, pleased and well taken care of. Ultimately, the reason that I cook and host is love.”

And ‘please all’ it does.

With an impressive 37,000+ followers on Instagram, Mariana spreads her love for food and for gathering with people from around the world. Something, she says, is an incredible honor.

“When I published my cookbook Colombiana (an ode to the food of my country), I was amazed and delighted to receive messages and shares from readers making entire menus and serving them to the tune of my playlists! I love seeing other cooks take on food and presentation and I’m always honored.”

Heck, she loves inspiring others so much that when we asked Mariana for a kitchen tip or trick to share with you all, she gave us four:

  1. Keep a batch of chicken, beef or pork stew in the freezer. It is bliss to have something comforting and delicious that is ready to go when you come home from a trip and there is nothing in the fridge.
  2. Wrap fresh bunches of herbs in paper towels and put them in a covered container—they will last forever.
  3. Save the olive brine to marinate chicken breasts—it will make the meat deliciously juicy.
  4. Make it easier on yourself: sourcing is a talent on its own. Search for great finished products from local vendors, like a Spinach Quiche from a great bakery or a decadent chocolate mousse cake from a specialty store. You don’t have to make every single thing from scratch.

Mariana’s career has been shaped by family and the three generations of women who handed down their recipes and taught her the ins and outs of a beautiful table. These women—her grandmothers and her mother—are part of who Mariana is today. And she believes that’s aways something to celebrate:

“Remember, respect, celebrate, support and empower women every day of the year. This month [Women’s History Month] and every day I am grateful for the women in my life who brought me up, who believe in me and lift me up, who call me on my shit; the ones who have challenged me and shared their knowledge. Let this month be a reminder that as women, we need to strengthen our communities with investment, advice, company and real conversations (with lots of wine, of course).”

In fact, when we asked Mariana whom she’d want to share ‘lots of wine’ with, three women topped her list:

“Rosy De Palma. She’s a Spanish actress who is simply fabulous, hilarious and one of the most dazzling women in film and the world. Then Simone Leigh—she’s an American contemporary artist. I am amazed by her sculptural work that I saw at the Venice Biennale. I would want to know everything about her. And Núria Aviñó. She’s a natural wine maker for her family’s 400-year-old winery, Clos Lentiscus in Catalunya; she has more energy and passion than most. Plus, she would bring delicious bone-dry Blanc Brut Nature!”

The other guests? Well, two are family, of course.

My brother Camilo Velasquez. He’s a great storyteller, a wonderful co-host and someone I miss dearly. And then, of course, my husband Diego. Even though I’ve been hosting since long before we were together, having a partner who cares, appreciates, plans the music, serves the wine and DOES ALL THE DISHES… is simply priceless.”

Hungry for more? You can explore some of Mariana’s beautifully styled recipes in her cookbook, Colombiana, or head over to her website for a full collection of her work. And be sure to check out Mariana’s brand of hostingware, Casa Velasquez, for beautiful, handmade pieces to add to your home.

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