Beauty queen, award-winning baker and grill master are all extensions to her title, making Linkie Marais more than your average chef. With a love for exploring, cooking and the outdoors, her ‘will to grill’ stems all the way back to her unique blend of South African and Southern roots. Born in Evander, a town in northeastern South Africa, Linkie was raised in the kitchen, helping her mother prepare meals on a daily basis. With a lack of abundant fresh ingredients, she inherited her mother’s creativity, utilizing whatever they had available to create fresh and original meals. Described by Linkie as a “melting pot,” South African cuisine incorporates influences from across the globe.
Immigrating to the U.S. in 1999, Linkie and her family settled in Tupelo, Mississippi where she began her culinary career piping cakes for a local catering company. Upon obtaining a degree in Culinary Arts and a minor in Food Arts from Mississippi University for Women, Linkie’s career took off as she held various pastry and executive chef positions in Oxford, Mississippi before making the move to Massachusetts’ acclaimed Montilio’s Bakery. Years later, Linkie decided to venture out on her own and accepted the opportunity of a lifetime to compete on Food Network’s hit series, “Next Food Network Star” in 2012.
After discovering her love for grilling during a Big Green Egg® competition, Linkie’s passion for grilling began to take her career in a new and exciting direction. It’s clear that her meat-filled and resourceful South African culinary upbringing has had a tremendous impact on her cooking flair, as Linkie is considered the best among the few females who have mastered the art of grilling.