Alumnae Spotlight: Marguerite Bottorff, Class of 2006
Some of the best memories stem from sitting around a table, sharing a meal with friends and family, talking about your day, telling a funny story, or just simply being there with one another. Class of 2006 alumna Marguerite Bottorff said this kind of joy began for her at Holy Child during lunchtime with friends and has stayed with her as she launched her own catering business more than 10 years later.
Marguerite is the founder and head chef at Silver Spoon Catering Company, which covers the DC area to parts of Maryland and Virginia. Drawing on her own experience of developing Celiac Disease, she had the idea for an allergy-friendly catering and personal chef company. Now she regularly appears on local news segments, serves and hosts parties for embassies, receptions for galleries, and private dinners for some of DC’s most elite.
Marguerite’s journey to opening her own business has taken many twists and turns, leading her to work with some of the biggest names in the food and restaurant industry. While she initially attended The University of Mississippi, her Celiac Disease diagnosis eventually took its toll, forcing her to move home. But Marguerite didn’t let her situation get in the way of pursuing an extraordinary opportunity. She reached out to an acquaintance with the Food Network and ended up landing a job working with Chef Bobby Flay’s production company, Rock Shrimp Production. She spent two years in New York City as a Production Assistant, doing set design, audience handling, and restaurant research for the program, “Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.”
From there, Marguerite moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked at several restaurants and large catering companies, all while earning her degree from College of Charleston. She eventually moved home to Washington, DC, experimented in teaching, and even tried opening her own organic baby food delivery service. Marguerite says herself, “what a wonderful failure it was!” She always worked multiple jobs, including developing recipes for a new product at Whole Foods, serving as sous chef at Mikko in Dupont Circle, and then the second-ever female chef in 27 years at Jaleo. All the while, she was trying to grow her own catering business.
As of September 15, 2019, the dream she worked so hard to achieve came true when she officially began working for herself.
“Proud is not a word I use often, but I can say after a decade of exploration, I am incredibly proud to have my name on this project,” says Marguerite. “This was a dream, an idea, a fun hobby that I have been able to make into my livelihood, into my life-long career. I am proud to be a chef.”
Marguerite remembers Cornelia Connelly’s mission each day by choosing to see struggle as a time of growth and opportunity, and choosing to be a person that you can be proud of through actions, not words.
Read more about Marguerite, her career, and her time at Holy Child below!
Tell us about your start in the food and beverage industry.
“Upon leaving Holy Child and heading to Ole Miss, I learned I had developed Celiac Disease. In 2009, I made the decision to leave school to focus on healing and being closer to my doctors. After being home for about a month, I realized that this was my chance to do something extraordinary, terrifying as it was, so I reached out to an acquaintance at Food Network and moved myself to New York. While in New York, my passion for cooking became insatiable. I took extensive notes from my boss, Bobby Flay. I made many mistakes, and learned all too many lessons the hard way. But! I found my ultimate passion and began the process of making it my life.”
What was the last position you held before starting your own business?
“There was one thing left to do that scared me: working the line for a large capacity dining room. I was hired as the second-ever female chef to work the grill in 27 years by Jaleo. I had not known the lows or incredible highs of my profession until walking onto that line. As a five-foot nothing petit woman, it was there that I learned to be a strong, formidable chef who could take criticism and continue to strive for perfection with 58 orders on my screen, all needing to go out in the next 15 minutes.”
Does one teacher or class stand out to you from your time at Holy Child?
“I had the great fortune of having teachers like Mrs. Tobey, who on countless occasions would nudge me in the direction of chatting less and writing more; Mr. Woodard and his penchant for learning history through cartoons, and Ms. Nem, the voice that stuck with me through art school, accent and all. I still credit Dr. English for giving me the ability to do any kind of math—she is one patient woman!”
What is your best piece of advice to a Holy Child student or alumna who is pursuing her career/dream?
“Fail. Fail a lot. Then keep trying, fail again, and find your best outcome. There is no job that is pointless, or a job that you are above. Be the person who gets coffee, who runs the errands, as does the photocopies. Learn from everyone and every situation you can, because you never know where that knowledge will help you later. Take the job you don’t think you can do—you will always surprise yourself. Be the light for others, even when you’re feeling defeated or low. That light will shine back upon you and help you grow and excel. Lastly, and most importantly, always pack a snack.”
Written by: Krista Montes de Oca Kelly '05
Do you know of a Holy Child alumna with an interesting career, service project, or hobby that we should spotlight? Send suggestions to email@example.com!