Melanie started her culinary education while Bangkok, She has degrees in both Thai
and Indian Cooking and studied under the Indian Chef, Owner of the popular Mrs. Balbir’s
and Cooking Instructor Vindar Balbir.
After receiving her culinary degrees she spent a year backpacking through Southeast
Asia learning recipes and techniques from local street vendors. She then returned
to the United States where she worked in the kitchens of both American and French
In addition to her culinary degrees, she earned an MFA in Poetry from the University
of Arizona in 1999.
After finishing her graduate work, she went on to become and event manager and eventually
local director for the American Heart Association in upstate New York. The experience
of working with the Heart Association further developed her interest in the connection
between quality of food and quality of life - and the impact food has on both our
physical and mental well being.
While working with The Heart Association, she met her husband Paolo, who began his
formal training as a Chef at the age of 14 in Florence. There was a whirlwind romance,
move to Italy... and soon following 3 children.
She took six years off “work” (it’s in quotes because anyone who has has three small
children knows that taking care of them is anything but time off “work”) to stay
home with her boys.
Ironically, as she found herself out of the professional kitchen she also found she
had access to some of the finest ingredients she had ever seen. She had married into
a family of farmers, mushroom hunters and cooks.
Suddenly porcinis were no longer a luxury item but arrived on her doorstep in basket
fulls. Fish fresh from the Mediterranean daily, pasture raised hand butchered meats,
homemade olive oil from the family grove, and heirloom organic seasonal fruits and
vegetables in abundance.
So between nursing babies and changing diapers, she began to play again in the kitchen.
She was soon throwing frequent dinner parties with extensive menus for for friends
In 2008 she decided to return to the professional kitchen “part-time” and began teaching
weekly Thai and Indian cooking classes to local Florentines and Ex-pats. Within a
few weeks of starting, the classes were selling out 6 weeks in advance And shortly
after she began getting requests from students to add Tuscan cooking classes to her
In 2009 she was asked to cater the St: James Christmas Gala, hosted by Florence’s
Mayor Matteo Renzi, sponsored by Ferragamo, Gucci, Casini and The Ritz Carlton among
others - and MC 'd by the Chianti Celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini. The event was
a huge success and put her on the map as one of Florence’s up and coming caterers.
In 2010 she was asked by the Ontario wine distributor Frontier Wines to create both
original and classic recipes to pair with the new releases of their Italian wines.
Since returning to the kitchen in 2008 she has been in demand as cooking instructor,
caterer, recipe consultant, and cake decorator throughout Tuscany.
She has been featured in the Florentine newspaper as well as had several of her recipes
Reviewed and featured by the Canadian food and wine critic Natalie Maclean.
She currently live in Florence with her husband and 3 boys where she continues to
cook, teach and decorate with passion.