The People of the Valley: Writing and Cooking with Marie Claire Griffin | Features






Marie Claire Griffin and her son Gabriel.




The Wood River Valley was a quieter place than it is now when Marie Claire Griffin showed up in 1991 with a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, an emerging career as a chef and the need to find meaning and redemption in writing. word.

“I’ve been writing a lot of poetry and stories,” said Griffin, 64, who wrote “I Got to Love You, a Boy and His Dog” for his children, due for release this year from Mascot Books.

“You just keep coming up with the words and hoping you can tell a story in a meaningful way. It’s a lonely process, but I can’t imagine not writing,” she said.

Griffin had made a living cooking for the San Francisco Giants and Ninety-Forty before moving to Idaho. Then she found herself working with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

“I’ve been in these celebrities’ kitchens where you can’t help being drawn to their local dramas, but I longed for a life in the context of deeper meaning, spirituality and devotion,” Griffin said.

It occurred to her that she was living the life of “Mary and Martha,” as it is said in the Bible, where Martha would pound all the pots and pans in the kitchen while Mary listened to Jesus’ teachings.

“The message is that you’re missing out on the best things in life,” Griffin said.

She delved into her profession and drew lessons and inspiration from her teachers, including Anne Lamott, Ethan Kanin, and MFK Fisher, author of How to Cook a Wolf.

In 1999, Griffin’s first memoir, “Language Lessons (When Your Mother Dies)”, a story about redemption, love, and reconciliation, was published to critical acclaim.

Griffin said, “Life is circular these days, but it was simpler back then, and yet family dynamics are always complex. This book was a rewarding and comforting feat.”

Twenty years ago, Griffin regularly won titles for Valley poetry and mingled with the burgeoning local book culture at the time, often centered around Gary Hunt’s icon-smashing books.

“Gary [and now Sarah Hedrick] He was a great advocate and promoter of writers and poets here. We had salons we met at writers like John Sack’s house. He once said that my writing reminded him of Joan Didion, and I almost fell off a chair.”

Griffin said she has always been drawn to the study of pastoral care, grief, and how people reconcile loss and carry on working. In 2005, she entered Boston Theological Seminary and decided to adopt a child as a single mother. Soon the son was born in her life. Gabriel is now 16 years old.

“I got the message through my belief that this boy was the angel Gabriel coming to me, and that is exactly what he was,” Griffin said.

“Because I was much older when he came into my life, I had a deliberate depth of raising it in the loudest way possible,” Griffin said. “I can’t imagine living without it. It has deepened my heart’s capacity for love.”

A few years ago, Griffin found a video on YouTube on the internet of a Norwegian man looking for a match for his widowed mother.

“It got 15 million views and it was pretty cool, so I texted him asking if I could buy the story, and I don’t really know how the process goes,” Griffin said. “I told him I knew we could make a Hollywood movie about it. I pretty much made it up.”

Griffin flew him to Hollywood and met her friend and producer Ellen Stewart, who works part-time in Sun Valley. Stewart took on the project, signed a deal, and now the film is in development, with Griffin serving as producer. A documentary “Finding Adam” about the same story was recently produced in Norway.

Chef Griffin’s job ended abruptly when the pandemic struck. She is now back in storytelling, which now includes a number of filmmaking projects.

She said, “You can’t doubt yourself when something feels right. You just have to do it.”

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