What online superstar Marion Grasby is up to next
She laughs at that bold laugh and plays with the idea – but don’t consider it out of the question.
“The collective community has approximately 6.5 million subscribers and followers, but our content reaches over 30 million per month,” says Hinshelwood. “It’s a really engaged audience and community.”
“We were in Italy just before the lockdown, and we walked into our hotel in Rome and everyone knew Marion,” adds Althaus. “We thought we were flying incognito, but everywhere we go, someone knows her. People just love it.
Grasby was born in Darwin and moved to Papua New Guinea when she was four – her father worked as a construction project manager for Australian embassies. Cooking is in her genes: her mother, Noi, who appears regularly on Grasby’s social media, is a trained chef.
However, Grasby went on to study law and journalism in Brisbane, before becoming a journalist at the ABC. It was during this time that she met Althaus, who was also studying law at QUT.
It was a friend who suggested he meet Althaus, who at the time worked for the wine and olive oil company Primo Estate.
“It was one of those special, fateful moments,” says Grasby. “I think I arrived with two bottles of Yellow Tail.” “Yallowglen,” Althaus corrects her.
It was 17 years ago. Althaus’ entrepreneurial spirit and marketing spirit complement Grasby’s creativity and drive. They talk as one – constantly finishing each other’s sentences without ever interrupting each other.
Their mutual love of food was an immediate attraction. So much so that Grasby quit her job at ABC and started a master’s degree in gastronomy. Food and big ideas are the couple’s common ground.
“Australians love big flavors, like Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean flavors,” says Althaus.
“That’s where Tim is really good,” says Grasby, “because I only think of delicious things while he can always see opportunities – where there’s no existing product, for example. example. I’m just like, it’s a delicious green curry.
In 2010, Grasby took a break from her studies to become a MasterChef candidate. A viewer favourite, it was rejected – ironically on satay sauce – much to the chagrin of viewers. But the couple decided to take those 15 minutes of fame and run with it.
In quick succession, Grasby produced a cookbook, marion: Recipes and stories from a hungry cooktook him to Bangkok, where the couple knocked on the factory doors to find a maker who could produce curry pastes and bases just like Noi’s, found a distributor and took on Coles and Woolworths – the all within nine months.
“I wanted these recipes to be made on a large scale and legitimately good and to taste like my mom’s cooking. The basic ingredients available here just don’t taste the same as in Thailand,” says Grasby.
Inspired by Maggie Beer, Marion’s Kitchen innovated with high quality home cooked meals that defied supermarket prices. It worked, a lot of time. So big that five years later the couple decided to try the American market.
Chess? There have been many, they say. But none are as big as the United States, although they have managed to market their products in 15,000 stores.
For five years they tried to conquer America. “We were in every store at the intersection and we thought we could do it. But we never got enough people to eat green curry or pad Thai,” says Grasby.
“After five years of losing money, we were like, either we pull out or this is going to break us.”
But serendipity prevailed in 2016 and steered them in an entirely different direction: videocasts on social networks.
They started with a simple “camera on hands” cooking routine, but quickly realized that Grasby, and not his hands, was their best asset.
Control, again, was at the heart of the strategy. They brought the video production company in-house, hiring a few videographers to film Grasby doing his extremely likeable and personal schtick on camera.
The timing was perfect. They were ahead of the pack when Facebook started prioritizing video on its platform. They spent around $30,000 to set up a studio in their office in Bangkok, where they were based, bought camera lenses and lights, and started posting regularly on Facebook.
“We were going back the next day, and a million people had watched,” Althaus says.
As the world went into lockdown in 2020 and millions of people set out to hone their cooking skills, the show really took off. “We have over six million subscribers on our platforms,” Althaus says. “They tell us what interests them, the type of products they like, and we go and make them.”
A panicked decision to return to Australia when COVID-19 hit meant they were taking the last available flight from Bangkok to Australia. He landed in Brisbane. With state borders closed and unable to reach Melbourne as planned, they headed north to Noosa and found an idyllic Airbnb on the Noosa River.
They bought it. Life and business couldn’t be sweeter.
Vietnamese roast chicken from Marion Grasby
From her new cookbook, Equally Delicious
My technique here makes roasting a bird faster, juicier, and less messy (a winner!). For 4 people
1 whole chicken of 1.2 kg
vegetable oil, for brushing
cucumber, cut into chunks, for serving
steamed rice, for serving
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and
thinly sliced pale part
2 coriander roots (cilantro)
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 teaspoon sweet dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
❶ To prepare the chicken, place it breast side down on a cutting board. Use scissors to cut each side of the spine and remove it. Flip the chicken over and press down on the breastbone so the breastbone cracks and the chicken lays flat.
❷For the marinade, use a mortar and pestle (or food processor) to pound the lemongrass, coriander roots and garlic into a fine paste. Stir in soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet dark soy sauce and brown sugar.
❸ In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the marinade. Let marinate for 10 minutes (or up to an hour).
❹ Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Meanwhile, for the nuoc cham, whip
the ingredients together. Put aside.
❺ Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with aluminum foil and placing a baking rack on it. Place the chicken on the grill, breast side up. Pour over the marinade. Add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the baking sheet, making sure the water does not touch the chicken.
❻ Roast for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (you can test by cutting into the thigh roast and if the juices run clear, the chicken is done). I like to drizzle my chicken with a little oil to prevent the skin from drying out too much during cooking. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
❼ Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with cucumber, nuoc cha and
TIP: Pouring water into your baking sheet helps keep your marinade from burning and messing up, and the steam helps keep your chicken juicy.