The Content Creator, Polly Markus

Introducing Content Creator & hospo icon Polly Markus

Where I started: Waiting tables at her local cafe (aged 14).
Where I am now: Cookbook Author and Instagram Chef.

The art of hospitality and a passion for food were both ingrained in Polly Markus from a young age, with the chef and author sharing how her late father was renowned for his hosting skills and culinary talent. “My dad was huge on entertaining. It was his favourite thing in the world,” she says. “He loved hosting people, he loved cooking and he really made me see the romantic side of food, of enjoying food with friends and family.” 

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Since then, cooking for and hosting people have become career-defining passions for Markus, who has not only amassed an impressive 65.7 thousand followers on her Miss Polly’s Kitchen Instagram account, but also, has a second cookbook on the horizon. For Markus, beyond her dad’s significant influence, it was early jobs in hospitality as well as the industry’s vast potential for travel that showed her how she could segue her passion into work, from making sauces at Hell’s Pizza to waiting tables at her local cafe to working in the event team at Britomart Hospitality Group, to the formative years she spent working as a crew chef on a superyacht in Europe. And while Markus’ trajectory in hospitality has been somewhat non-traditional, it left her with a deep respect for the industry — its people and its opportunities. 

“I fell into the job of being a crew chef on a superyacht, even though I wasn’t formally trained,” Markus tells me. “And it was such a crucial time for me, it really opened my eyes up to the world of food because I had the opportunity to go to places I had never been before and to learn about produce and cooking seasonally and how to be practical in the kitchen.” She continues, “I was cooking for anywhere between 15 and 20 of the crew and would help the head chef do the guests’ food too.”

“There are so many different pathways that you can go down… the opportunities are huge, it feels like you can create a really incredible career for yourself if it’s your passion and you’ve got the get up and go.”

Despite her experience, Markus’ current career in food only came about after lockdown prompted her to launch a recipe account on Instagram. And it wasn’t until recently, she tells me, that she started viewing this as a viable career path going forward, explaining how, when she was younger, she actually had never considered being in hospitality long term. (She has also worked consistently in real estate for a number of years.) “I think there’s a stigma in New Zealand around working in hospitality, with the misconception being that you wait tables or work temporarily at a cafe or restaurant, and that’s as far as you can go,” she says. “But there’s so much more to hospitality than being front of house or back of house, there are so many different pathways that you can go down, the opportunities are huge.” She continues, “Particularly in this day and age, it feels like you can create a really incredible career for yourself if it’s your passion and you’ve got the get up and go.” 

Indeed, there is a whole generation of social media chefs and online food influencers who are proving how the hospitality-worker archetype is evolving beyond recognition. Whether it’s restaurant chefs who also have millions of followers on social media, young passionate foodies waiting tables who also have substantial Substack databases for their recipe content or people with podcasts about cooking and food, the space that Markus now finds herself in, of online entrepreneurs who have harnessed hospitality experience to create something incredible, is vast and varied — and everyone is welcome. 

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