Meet Maria Whiteway

I have a deep love affair with all things food. By day, I’m a Clinical Director and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), working with kids and adults who have autism. By night, I am a food creator, stylist and photographer for my own website. Even more, I spent the last few years as a Food Writer for Connect Savannah, a local newspaper.

My obsession for cooking and indulging in delectable eats led me to the creation of this website. It’s my space to document, share and celebrate food in all its glory.

My goal? To share healthy, sometimes naughty, and always creative eats with my readers, teaching them that they too can whip up delicious and fascinating food with everyday ingredients {no culinary degree needed}.

To be honest, I am just an ordinary girl with extraordinary taste, which is why I am a Common Connoisseur.

So, here’s a little bit about me.

I was a special education teacher for 6 years, teaching primarily those with autism. I have a Masters of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis. In 2016, I left the classroom to serve kiddos with autism as a BCBA. I am currently a Clinical Director of a center that offers ABA therapy to kids with autism.

Although my strong work ethic has lead me to this point, my forever passion has always been and will always be FOOD. I am on a persistent trek to gratify my taste buds.

I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York by my mom and large supportive Italian family. My story and love for food dates back to the 1940s. After many sea-sick weeks on a boat from Sicily to New York City, my Grandma, Theresa, arrived at Ellis Island. She was 25 and wanted the American dream. She brought over the rest of my family to join her and shortly after, they all trekked to Syracuse. All my family members lived in a three-story home together before I was born. Beside this home, my grandparents owned a small Italian grocery store, named G and T Quality Market. All the home-made meats, fresh cheeses and produce found their way into Grandma’s kitchen.

See, Grandma’s whole life was dedicated to feeding her family. It was then that she started the tradition of pasta and sauce every Sunday with the whole family. There is a rumor that she was in labor with my uncle on a Sunday and refused to go to the hospital until everyone was fed. I grew up knowing that each Sunday was dedicated to this family meal. Every single family member, immediate and extended, was invited. Even our significant others and best friends came to dinner on Sunday. There were times that we would have 30 people crammed into her small kitchen!

Grandma woke up at 5:00 am and cooked sauce all day. When all of us kids arrived, we would tear off hunks of Italian bread, immersing it into the deep pot. Grandma would slap our hands and tell us to put it in a separate bowl (we never did).  When it was time to eat, Grandma would send someone to the garden to pick fresh basil.

Meatballs, grated pecorino romano, salad, garlic pizza, eggplant parmesan, sautéed greens. There was always too much food, yet all my aunts and uncles would argue about how many pounds of pasta to boil.  Either way, we all filled our plates with Grandma’s love.

Now that I am grown and have a greater appreciation of food, I realize that I grew up eating the best Italian food that could never be bought with any amount of money.

The memories seem endless, but one thing is clear, my passion and appreciation for food was instilled in me at birth. Grandma and I spent many days cooking together, where I would imitate her kitchen prowess. As she aged, she continued to gather the family for Sunday dinners, the most important part of the week.

Grandma left us in March 2015 at 93 years old and my heart broke. My birthday was 2 days before she passed away. She asked my mom to help her buy the cookbook “Mad Delicious” for my birthday. I received it in the mail on the day she passed. In the inscription I simply wrote:

” …This book is from my amazing Grandma. She loved to cook and so do I.”

Cooking and eating brings me so much joy. My foodspiration stems from family recipes, restaurant recreations, cooking shows and cuisine cravings. I often aspire to cook and defeat challenging eats like risky risotto, submerging soufflés or Gorden Ramsey’s baffling beef wellington. On other days, I fancy cooking healthy yet satisfying meals.

Please join me on my journey in my kitchen and to diverse restaurants, as I eat and cook my way through flavory fare.

I am just an ordinary girl with extraordinary taste, which is why I am a Common Connoisseur.

Thanks a Latte for Stopping by

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Maria,

    Your first post just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:

    I encourage you to claim your blog, which allows you to add a picture and change some settings. The blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Here’s how to claim:

    – Make sure you’re logged into Urbanspoon

    – Go to your blog page on our site: https://www.urbanspoon.com/blogger-reviews/23/14533/Pittsburgh/a-common-connoisseur.html

    – Click “Claim your blog” in the left sidebar

    After you submit it, we may contact you to verify your claim. Check your spam email folder if your claim hasn’t gone through in a day or two. You’ll also find some interesting badges and widgets on your Urbanspoon blog page – look in the right sidebar.

    If you have any questions, please contact me via email.




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