Marion Kane was born in Montreal but spent her formative years from age four to 19 in London, England. As a child, she regularly came home asking for spam fritters like the ones served for hot lunch at school. Her mother, Ruth Schachter, a biology teacher and self-taught gourmet cook renowned for European dishes like Beef Stroganoff and Linzertorte, claimed not to understand the concept and politely declined. During her teenage years, Kane baked cheesecakes from a recipe in her mother’s Joy Of Cooking and sold them to friends and teachers. Thus began her love of things culinary.
She returned to Canada in 1965 when her father, a physiologist and medical researcher, accepted a position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Soon, she obtained degrees in Russian, French and Education. Jobs followed as a social worker, owner of a clothing boutique, teacher, waitress and baker of apple pies which she sold to restaurants. Her career as a food writer began in the mid-1970s after moving to Toronto with John Kane, her husband at the time, and young daughter Esther. After freelancing for several years, she became food editor at The Toronto Sun in 1983. In 1989, she accepted that position at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, which she held for 11 years. After a one-year sabbatical, she opted to write a weekly food column called Dish which appeared in the weekend Star. In 2007, she resigned after 18 years at the paper to pursue a career as a freelance Food Sleuth®.
Her claims to fame include hosting a visit to Toronto in 1991 by Julia Child, with whom she became fast friends. A highlight was being invited for breakfast prepared by her famous friend and mentor at her Cambridge, Mass., home in 1999.
Marion has long relished unusual opportunities as fodder for her writing. In 1993, she interviewed former Mafia member and one-time cook for the New York Gambino clan “Joe Dogs” Iannuzzi from American parts unknown while he was under the witness protection plan after turning in several of his fellow mobsters. That story included excellent recipes from the late mobster’s small but tasty book The Mafia Cookbook (Simon & Schuster). In 1999, she published recipes from three Toronto chefs offering their take on shepherd’s pie as a tribute to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones while the band was in town to record an album. He liked this treatise on his favourite dish so much, he signed a copy.
A populist in her approach, Marion believes food journalism should be accessible, entertaining and educational. She also feels a responsibility to address serious issues and regularly tackles topics like hunger, homelessness, GM foods, organic farming and nutrition. Food, she says, is a universal connector. The beauty of her work is that it gives her access to chefs, cooks, growers, readers, listeners and eaters of every colour, shape, age and background. She is an avid storyteller above all else.
Marion belongs to the Association of Food Journalists, the International Association of Cooking Professionals and AIR, an association of independent radio producers. She has won three national awards for food writing and has authored four cookbooks, one at the Toronto Sun, Best Recipes Under The Sun (Collins, 1987), another at the Toronto Star, the BEST of FOOD (Toronto Star, 1997), Dish (Whitecap, 2005), a compilation of her favourite columns paired with her best recipes and share: Delicious Dishes from FoodShare and Friends (Between the Lines, 2012), co-authored with Adrienne De Francesco.
“Sittin’ in the Kitchen” – a series of short (10– to 15-minute) food-themed audio podcasts – is Marion’s current consuming passion and primary endeavour. They are gaining a wide audience for their lively, informed, authoritative interviews with celebrity chefs, foodies of every kind and just ordinary folk with a compelling story to tell. Her presence on social media attracts enthusiastic attention by those interested in food and cooking.
Last, although she has mastered dishes from many cuisines and is constantly sleuthing out new culinary experiences, she has not yet discovered the secret to making spam fritters.