Every once in a while, a hobby blossoms into an opportunity to give back. In the case of two local foodies, the skills they developed in childhood bring joy to family, friends, and customers in delectable ways.
Rita Marra and Tiffany MacPherson work full-time in careers that have nothing to do with baking or cooking. Yet, they’ve carved out sideline endeavors to bring scrumptious treats to the community. Each shares a heartfelt backstory, proving that love is the greatest ingredient in any dish.
Rita Marra of Rita’s Creative Cakes
Rita Marra has always loved to bake. As a little girl, her mother left the holiday baking to her, and it grew into a lifelong passion. She developed and mastered her techniques to the point of artistry.
Her late husband Matt and her three sons were initially the lucky recipients of her delicious fare, which she baked for sheer pleasure. But soon friends, extended family, and eventually the community were placing orders for birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, graduations, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!
“Moms attended my sons’ birthday parties and asked, ‘Where did you get that cake?’ I told them I designed it, and from there, the orders poured in,” says Rita.
Baking is an uplifting profession — a stress reliever, a creative outlet, and a way to honor her husband, who passed away unexpectedly in January of 2021.
“Matt was my biggest cheerleader and supporter,” says Rita. “He absolutely loved my cakes and cookies and the happiness it brings to others. I made a promise to myself and to him that I will continue baking as a form of therapy for my severely broken heart and as a way to honor my sweetheart forever.”
Today, Rita balances a full-time career with the comfort and joy of baking made-to-order confections. Every order is sprinkled with love. See her deliciously jaw-dropping creations on Facebook at Rita's Creative Cakes — including a sculpted cake that looks precisely like a bowl of spaghetti, a Texas A & M collie, action figures, and year-round holiday and celebration cakes. It’s never too early to place a holiday order!
Tiffany MacPherson of Cottage on College Street
Tiffany MacPherson cooks for the joy it brings others. Entertaining was something she learned from her late father, who was larger than life and shared food as a way to connect with friends, family, and total strangers.
“I became a foodie because of my dad,” she explains. “We lost him in January, and he taught me that giving food is the greatest gift.” A native Houstonian, she moved to The Woodlands and got to know her neighbors by inviting them over for meals.
Tiffany supports charities by creating treats and charcuterie boards, and she once fulfilled a last-minute request by donating an incredible spread on a 20-foot-long table! As a Realtor (Properties by Tiffany), her work affords her the ability to gift food to people — not an inexpensive hobby, but well worth it. "The love of cooking is a blessing, just as giving love through food is a blessing," she says.
Sharing images and recipes of her creations is another hobby, especially on Instagram (celebratewithtiffany). She also showcases her newest venture — a charming cottage in Montgomery that she’s developing into an Airbnb (Cottage on College Street). She’ll post on social media when it’s ready to open for the holidays and is envisioning the charcuterie boards, handmade cheeses, coffee cakes and signature drinks she’ll make for guests.
Below is one of her favorite holiday beverages.
Tiffany’s Joyful Christmas Creamer
1 cup Irish Whiskey
1/2 cup Kailua (rum blend version, if possible)
1 cup Half and Half
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Serve over ice or in coffee! Happy holidays!
QUOTE: "The love of cooking is a blessing, just as giving love through food is a blessing." Tiffany MacPherson