Raised in Alabama, Melissa has been in the restaurant business since she was 16 years old and is a Distinguished Graduate from New England Culinary Institute, Alumna of the Year in 2005. She has worked for a number of award-winning chefs through the years: Frank Stitt at Bottega Restaurant & Café located in Birmingham, Alabama; Craig Hartman at The Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia and at The Cliff House at Pike’s Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado; and Reed Heron at Rose Pistola in San Francisco, California. She brought both national and international recognition for Palladio Restaurant through her constant striving to create menus with the freshest ingredients found locally and internationally. Melissa has received five invitations to create dinners at the world renowned James Beard House in New York City. The James Beard Organization has also recognized Melissa as a semi-finalist for Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic on four different occasions.