At the beginning of the 2020 quarantine, I began to see a need in my local community: people needed to feel good, and wanted something to do with their hands while stuck at home. My answer to that was to start delivering homemade pizza and pasta-making kits. Just like that, Cucina Melissa was born.
I’ve always been fascinated with ingredients and food. In 2015, I graduated from USC with a degree in Human Biology and Nutrition. I landed a job at a digital wellness magazine, and became so passionate about the connection between food and well-being, that after work I would often find myself staying up late reading stacks of cookbooks and practicing recipes.
The longer I worked behind a desk, the more clearly I knew I needed to pursue my passion for the culinary arts full-time. Where does one go to indulge their love of cooking? For me, the answer was obvious: Italy.
Having always been infatuated with Italian food and culture, I enrolled in and graduated from the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy. I chose this program because of their focus on teaching old-school, artisan-level techniques of Italian food: charcuterie, curing/conserving, fresh pasta and pizza, gelato, cheese, bread, and Italian pastry. Surrounded by the sea, fishermen, and local farmers, it was heaven on earth for me, and I was hooked.
I returned to Los Angeles in April 2019 and started working at a restaurant called Antico in East Larchmont, where I honed my skills in handmade pasta and amazing gelato. I’m so happy to now be living my truest passion, making authentic Italian food in Santa Monica for the people of LA and Orange County.
Stay tuned as Cucina Melissa continues to grow!