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Marianne Despres posing for a picture.

Marianne Despres


Marianne is the founder of El Sur. She is a first generation American with roots in Argentina and France, with an international family where food and cooking were a very important aspect of her upbringing. Marianne holds a degree in International Relations from the University of the Pacific, and after living the corporate life for a few years, she put everything into 2 suitcases and moved to Paris to pursue her culinary career. In Paris, she attended Le Cordon Bleu, and later apprenticed in some of Paris’ best restaurants and pâtisseries. Upon her return to the Bay Area, she worked at the French Laundry in Yountville, before taking time off to start a family. In 2012, she started El Sur, a business that is close to her heart, as she grew up making and eating Argentinian empanadas with her family. Marianne devoted a lot of time to develop the recipes for El Sur’s empanadas. Each filling is inspired by an important place, event, or person in her life. Marianne’s career has transitioned from a chef to an entrepreneur, now focusing her time on growing El Sur. She leads the company’s vision, culture and development. Marianne is active in the SF food scene, volunteering for various organizations, including La Cocina and CUESA (Center for Urban Education of Sustainable Agriculture).