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Marilyn Benedict: Cooking Up Family Togetherness

Marple Friends & Neighbors, November 2022

This month we’re excited to introduce you to longtime Broomall resident Marilyn Benedict. One thing Marilyn knows for sure is that food tastes better with family. Growing up, her fondest memories were made around her family’s dinner table. Now Marilyn is serving up delicious meals so families in our community can create their own memories at the table. That sounds like a recipe for success!

Marilyn was born and raised in Broomall. She and her brother and sister lived with their parents, Robert and Dotty, in the Greenhill section of Marple Township. The neighborhood was so close that all the kids were in the Fourth of July parade as “The Greenhill gang.” Their home was known as a neighborhood hub, as friends, family and neighbors often dropped by for a cup of coffee or a meal. Robert worked as a salesman for the DuPont Company, and Dotty was a homemaker and a fabulous self-taught chef. Dotty used her family to test out recipes and eventually started her own catering business. “Our family holidays and parties were infamous,” said Marilyn. “Everyone congregated
around to enjoy mom’s delicious food and warm hospitality.”

As a young girl, Marilyn was either helping her mom in the kitchen or playing sports. A basketball player for St. Pius X, whose team won the Cardinal O’Hara Basketball Tournament in 1972, she was either on a basketball court or at the Marple Swim Club, where she competed on the swim team. Marilyn’s specialty was breaststroke where she medaled in the Suburban Swim League Championships and she also broke the Catholic League Record for Cardinal O’Hara. She was also a member of St. Pius X CYO basketball team where she was Captain and
MVP. Marilyn was also on the very first Cheerleading Squad for the Marple Junior Tigers in 1971. Many of her teammates
from grade school and high school sports and activities have become lifelong friends, most still living in Marple.

When it came time to choose a college, Marilyn was inspired by some of the women who refereed her high school games. They happened to be the “Mighty Macs” at Immaculata College. Although Marilyn didn’t play basketball in college, she swam, the Mighty Macs put Immaculata on her radar, and she loved watching some of her former referees go on to be part of the 1972, 1973 and 1974 Immaculata NCAA Championship Team.

Marilyn with former Phillies owner Paul Owens, (right)
and pitcher Larry Christenson (far left)

Marilyn earned a degree in Nutrition and Food Services Management, but her culinary journey started long before that. She’d been helping her mom with her catering business since she was 14 years old and had worked at various local restaurants, including Paxon Hollow Country Club. During her college years, she found work as a waitress at Veterans Stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies. Little did she know the impact that job would have on not only her career but her mom’s career as well. “It was definitely a case of being at the right place at the right time,” Marilyn explained. “I mentioned my mom’s catering business to Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter who was looking for a caterer for the 1980 playoffs to have parties in the Phillies Executive Dining Room. Soon after that conversation, he hired my mom to cater the playoffs and the best ever World Series. I worked alongside her as her right arm.”

Together Marilyn and Dotty handled all special events for the Phillies that included governors, state legislators and other high-profile dignitaries, sponsors, clients and celebrities. “The most memorable parties were the 1980, 1983 and 1993 World Series and the 1996 All-Star Game,” added Marilyn. “We were also a big part of many ballplayer’s milestone moments, including Richie Ashburn, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Tommy Lasorda and Darren Daulton. For Philadelphia sports fans like us, it was a dream come true.” Marilyn worked in every facet of the food industry, including administration, consulting and corporate catering while also working for the Phillies. While she was having a a successful career in that industry, she was also raising her two sons, Greg and Andrew. Marilyn had found the perfect home to raise them here in Broomall. In fact, it was on Greenhill Rd, next door to her parents. “Although many of the families have changed since I lived here as a kid, it still has the same wonderful vibe,” she said. “The families are all friends and really look out for each other.” Over the years, Marilyn was known for decorating her Broomall home elaborately for holidays and getting especially festive for Halloween.

The 1971 Marple Junior Tigers
Cheerleading Squad

Her boys both attended St. Aloysius Academy and Paxon Hollow Middle School. Greg attended Monsignor Bonner and then went on to the Valley Forge Military Academy. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Greg began a career in sales. Greg’s older brother Andrew graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School and then joined the US Marines serving two tours in Iraq. Andrew worked as a plumber but later joined the electrical union and graduated from the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology.

When Greg and Andrew were young, Marilyn decided to shift careers. She loved her time with the Phillies organization and in other various food industry settings, but as a single mom, the hours were tough. She wanted to spend more time at home, especially in the evenings. A career change to teaching was the perfect fit. For more than 10 years, she worked as a culinary educator in the Upper Darby School District, teaching in both the middle school and high school while attending Widener University for her Masters in Education. “The kids were truly the best part of the job,” recalled Marilyn. “Many of the children were disadvantaged, so the relationships they formed with the teachers were so important.”

Marilyn hadn’t planned on retiring from teaching in 2014, but unfortunately, an accident left her unable to work for a long period of time. After undergoing several orthopedic surgeries, as well as lots of physical therapy, Marilyn was ready for life’s next adventure. “People say life is like a camera, so I took a shot at opening up my own storefront to focus on grab n’ go homemade foods and catering business,” she said. In June 2022, Marilyn opened up Dotty’s Gourmet Kitchen & market, the middle shop located in the Shoppes at Sproul Plaza which includes the Broomall Wawa, where she serves take-home family friendly dinners, delicious soups and baked goods.

The staff at Dotty’s Gourmet Kitchen & Market.
Photos by Crissy Everhart

Finding a location for the shop was yet another case of Marilyn being at the right place at the right time. Originally, she’d planned to open up a store in Havertown, but that didn’t work out. On her way to pick up a pizza at Italian Delight in Broomall, she noticed a For Rent sign in the shopping center. “I figured I’d give the owner a call,” she recalled. “It turns out the owner was someone I had worked with back at the Paxon Hollow Country Club when we were kids. I guess it was meant to be!”

Dotty’s Gourmet Kitchen & Market is filled with family dinners that are perfect for today’s busy families. Customers can pick up delicious entrees, vegetables, salads, soups and desserts that are handcrafted by Marilyn or one of her two chefs, Executive Chef James Campbell and Chef Teague Myers. Teague is known for his soups that pair well with Jake’s homemade breads and entrees. Marilyn’s son Greg can also often be found working in the store and behind the scenes for their social media accounts.

Marilyn said she understands firsthand that busy parents are often too tired to cook. “Between working parents, kid’s sports and activities, I’ve noticed how much busier families are these days,” said Marilyn. “But I know the importance of sitting down together as a family every night, so I want to make it easier for people to do that.” Her grab-and-go meals make it easier to pull a healthy meal together so they can still have the tradition of eating a family meal together.

Delicious meals for sale at Dotty’s Gourmet Kitchen & Market

Named after her mother, who passed away in 2013, Marilyn said Dotty is the inspiration behind Dotty’s Gourmet Kitchen & Market and the reason she continues to work in the food industry. She’s even using Dotty’s signature in the logo. “I hope to continue serving the community with the talent she empowered me with, which clearly, is a recipe for success,” said Marilyn.

The best part of owning the shop right in her hometown is getting to see old friends and meeting new people in the community. “Marple is the best town to live in,” she said. “I pretty much bleed orange and black, white and gold and red and blue! I still know the words to the Marple Newtown, Cardinal O’Hara and St. Pius X Alma Maters. Someday I hope to downsize into a smaller home and I’m sure one of my sons will move to Greenhill Rd. I never want to live anywhere else, Marple is and has always been the best place to live, it’s the heart of Delaware County.”

Thank you, Marilyn for sharing your story with us and for inspiring us to hold on to family traditions like gathering around the table—especially if you’ll do the cooking!

Do you know a Marple family, individual or nonprofit group who should become known by our community? Make your nominations for upcoming feature articles by emailing your ideas to Holly Stupak at HStupak@BestVersionMedia.com.