As things go these days - of seclusion and stay at home, I was posting a comment about the food at the Marie Eiffel Market to a Facebook friend who is with her family quarantined on Shelter Island. Who should enter the thread but Marie Eiffel herself? She explained they are doing takeout and then she said, in another thread, "Next week I am cooking for the staff of Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. It will be my contribution for this courageous Coronavirus effort they are doing and hopefully they will like it!" I immediately asked for an interview about this action.
I asked Ms. Eiffel how many meals are you planning to prepare, and she said, "I will prep 35 meals to be delivered at 6 p.m." She explained, "It is always good to help the community when everything seems to spin down and bring a little light in the darkness of those who are close to death every day. I was once homeless, I was sick, I lived for 2 years in a hospital being sick, next to the dying. When somebody was bringing me a good meal, it was ecstasy and when I was sharing pastry with the nurses, it was a pleasure to see their smile devouring something else than the food from the vending machine or whatever they could grab!"
Marie Eiffel opened up her soul and explained, "Most of the time in hospital areas that are tough parts like the dying part (cancer...) or the elderly part, it is a misery all day and the hospital staff gives so much. Why not give back when we can?"
To make this happen, she relayed, "There is a guy, Brett Surerus, who started this on the island who has a wife who is a nurse who inspired me to do what we are doing because he was telling me how hard it was to eat properly for the staff right now. I said, 'I am with you!' He will deliver, so it is a team effort."
I asked when will this happen, and she replied, "April 6. And we will do it regularly until this virus nonsense ends. Customers chipped in to give us some money to buy the food to cook. We don't make a penny. We give our time and efforts and basically the customers sponsor us. It is a Shelter Island community effort."
So, I asked Ms. Eiffel what is she preparing? She said, "I am not sure yet what I am going to make, but I think I must be practical - something they can eat room temperature and stay healthy. Like a roasted chicken or a salmon poached with roasted vegetables and for sure a Tarte Tatin for dessert. A little bit of sugar goes a long way!"
I asked over the years what has been her most satisfying cooking moment? Her reply, "My most satisfying moment, it is a moment that gets repeated. I love cooking for kids, a croissant, a croque monsieur, French toast or anything they want - just to see how much they appreciate it. Then, she added, "I love when a kid tells his parents while they are almost getting on the ferry to leave the island to go back to New York or elsewhere, I want to go to Marie's before we go! And the parents have to come back, they tell me. 'My kid won't leave until they eat something from here [Marie Eiffel's Market].' These are my best moments; whatever it is they want. Kids are just special. I love that I love cooking for them."
Just another example of the wonderful commitment so many have to contribute to the massive effort by the medical people all around the world to keep us all alive and safe. Salute to Marie Eiffel and Brett Surerus, his wife, and everyone who contributed and will contribute to make this happen.
Marie Eiffel Market is located at 184 North Ferry Road, Shelter Island. For more information, call 631-749-0003 or visit marieeiffelmarket.com.