Melissa is a twenty-seven-year veteran of the hospitality industry. After graduating culinary school with a degree in baking and pastry, she worked in a variety of kitchens before finding a home at a high volume catering company in Chicago where she worked for ten years – starting as a part time pastry cook and eventually being promoted to Executive Chef. After those ten years, she took almost three years off to travel the country; doing short term stages everywhere from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Abilene, Texas. Those three years also included being able to cook with several high-profile chefs for special events and festivals. For the last two years, Melissa has been at the helm of XO Marshmallow, as Executive Pastry Chef for the worlds first gourmet marshmallow café, located in Chicago.
Her inspiration comes from fellow female chefs and industry entrepreneurs, like Ellen Bennett (founder of apron company Hedley & Bennett) and Dakota Weiss (former Top Chef and chef/owner of Sweetfin Poke) who are dedicated to furthering their passion and careers in the business. While the most used tool in her kitchen is her 40 quart industrial mixer – she can often be found using Messermeister silicone spatulas to scrape out bowls and the Oliva 10” chef knife and paring knife to break down all of the unique ingredients that go into every batch of marshmallows.