A Longswamp Township food entrepreneur competed in an international chef competition.
Joyce Marin made it to the Quarter Finals of the worldwide Favorite Chef Competition before losing her standing in the top slot during the final second before voting ended.
While not able to advance on to the Semi Finals, Marin had dominated the first four rounds, ending each in first place. This is due to the support she received from many people placing free daily votes through their Facebook accounts.
With more than two decades of culinary experience, Marin owns Macungie Mountain Herb Farm, a 5-acre mountaintop farm in Longswamp Township, and operates her mobile restaurant from a converted horse trailer that she pulls to farmers markets and other events.
Her food philosophy is that she uses her herb-informed food and drinks to wake up people's senses, to connect them to the wonders of the earth.
If she had won the competition and received the grand prize of $50,000 and a double page paid advertisement spread in Bon Appétit Magazine, Marin had hoped to purchase an old fat fender antique truck to pull her trailer, donate to local food banks and JuxtaHub, and to host a big party on her farm.
“I have a fat fender truck on my vision board, but it was just a dream. My desire to fulfill that dream and be able to pull the con-verted horse trailer/mobile restaurant to market in style was the reason I entered the competition,” she said.
Marin provides community and economic development consulting with JuxtaHub, an emerging arts and innovation center in Emmaus. That project will ultimately provide a shared use commercial kitchen to the community.
At her farm party, she planned to showcase other food entrepreneurs, raise awareness about JuxtaHub’s plan for a shared use commercial kitchen to help food entrepreneurs get started, and support anti-hunger work done by Second Harvest Food Bank.
“I can think of no better way to thank the beautiful souls that have helped me in my farm, business and this competition, while sup-porting other food entrepreneurs who need a little exposure and raise awareness and money for JuxtaHub and the hungry,” Marin said.
Marin’s cooking journey began in her mother’s kitchen when she sat on the counter and helped count out ingredients while baking cookies.
Her food journey spanned a community college Soup and Bread course in Pittsburgh after college, included an expense account that took her to the finest restaurants in New York City, training in the techniques of French cuisine with the Institute of Culinary Education (under the previous name of Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School,) and travels around the world, including a year living in Madrid, Spain in 2010.
Her eyes opened to the possibilities of flavor when she worked as a commercial real estate banker by day and took cooking classes at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School at night. Motivated by her interest in being closer to good produce, she moved to Emmaus in 1990, restored a Victorian mansion to the Heritage House Bed & Breakfast, and eventually purchased a 5-acre farm at the top of Macungie Mountain.
After a divorce in 2012, she literally embraced "When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade" philosophy and started a mobile restaurant from her farm, Macungie Mountain Herb Farm. Using her herbs, flowers and fruits from her property and that of local growers, she began making Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and Herbal Teas, selling them at farmers markets.
Starting with four “authentic flavors” of Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, the flavor list has since grown to more than 20 fruit, flower and herbal infusions. Everyone's favorite seems to be Pink Hibiscus, as it comes out of an antique "Magic Teapot" with a free wish.
"I believe my mountaintop is a magical place," she said. "The water I use comes from my well and holds that energy. Flower and herb syrups that flavor the lemonade are sourced from my organic mountaintop gardens. The fruit I make into syrup for the lemonade is sourced from local growers. I don’t charge for the flavors, and people have fun mixing and matching the flavors, enjoying Blueberry Lavender and Strawberry Mint Lemonade.”
More than lemonade and tea, her mobile restaurant also prepares farm fresh food made with local ingredients, often sourced from other market vendors and her gardens. Big hits include her “Breakfast Burrito Good Enough to Marry” and her French Apple Tart. She also offers gluten free baked goods, quiches, soups and chili.
One loyal fan has said, “In her lemonade, herbal teas, and food I can feel and taste the good vibrations and the healing energy that come from the well water, fresh ingredients and the love from Joyce's heart.”