Polly Markus has always loved food. It’s something she traces back to her Dad’s culinary skills and his penchant for entertaining. The memories of her parents having friends over for dinner were some of Markus’ fondest and were (in hindsight) what laid the crucial foundations for Markus’ own foray into the food realm via her wildly successful Instagram account and now cookbook, Miss Polly’s Kitchen.
For those who don’t know her, or count among the 48,000 people (at time of writing) who follow her food-dedicated Instagram (@miss_pollys_kitchen), Polly Markus is a person who should definitely be on your radar. Commercial real estate agent by day and dedicated, self-taught cook in her own time, Markus used the disruption of the last few years to turn her passion into a burgeoning business, something that has led to the recent release of her first recipe book — a huge feat for someone whose culinary skills were only known to a close circle of friends and family until about a year and a half ago.
It was during 2020’s first lockdown, in fact, that Markus launched @miss_pollys_kitchen as a way to fill her time while real estate was on hold. Discovering a new way to share her love for food (that went beyond simply preparing a plate for someone), Markus’ effortless approach, relatable banter and recipes that put easy, flavoursome twists on classic dishes quickly made her stand out from the onslaught of food content being touted at the time. “I think cooking is really daunting for a lot of people,” Markus tells me, “so part of what I enjoyed about starting @miss_pollys_kitchen was that it felt like a little bit of fun… I wanted people to know that cooking doesn’t have to be serious, and it can be easy if you know the basics.”
The basics (like chopping ingredients properly, seasoning and combining the right flavours) are exactly what Markus covers in her timelapse kitchen videos, which provide a step-by-step guide on how to create her recipes at home. “I’ve had a lot of feedback from people saying that they can follow a recipe but it’s really nice to actually see how I cut the onion or the zucchini or how I put things together.” And while Instagram quickly became a creative outlet for Markus, it was the brands who approached her with partnership proposals that turned her passion project into a bona fide side hustle. “All of a sudden my weekends were filling up with shooting,” Markus reveals, “and I realised that I could actually turn this into something.”
Something then became something more, and at the start of last year, Markus was approached by a publisher who wanted to put Miss Polly’s Kitchen in print. And after months of trialling and perfecting her recipes (sometimes four different ones a day) and seeking feedback from those who have long been privy to her talent, Markus’ debut recipe book has finally arrived — a bible for anyone who loves entertaining.
Now, Markus finds herself increasingly having to reconcile the demands of her day job with those of Miss Polly’s Kitchen. Because despite her burgeoning success, as she tells me, “I still just consider myself just a little old Instagram cook in my kitchen, with my little tripod and my iPhone, and that’s what I love.” It is this love for cooking that not only inspired Markus to put herself out there but has long been the driving force behind the food she makes — even if it is just for friends who pop over for lunch. It’s what makes her particular kind of food content so compelling — she exudes a passion that you can feel through the screen (and through the pages of her book).
As for the future, Markus tells me she is just getting started. Having recently done a cooking course in Italy and with a few projects up her sleeve, Markus wants to continue to share her culinary inspiration, and expand her own capabilities. “I feel like there are still so many things that I need to learn,” she tells me, “and even if my Instagram went away tomorrow, I would still be doing the same things… learning about food, making food and sharing it with the people I love.”
Miss Polly’s Kitchen For the Love of Eating, is officially out now, and available to order here.