Melissa Perello is the Executive Chef/Owner of Frances located in San Francisco. Growing up, Perello drew inspiration from the cookbooks and TV shows of Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree, and from her biggest role model, her late grandmother Frances Seidel. Perello studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and then moved to San Francisco to work under the tutelage of executive chef Michael Mina of Aqua, and then at the sister restaurant Charles Nob Hill, where she would rise to become executive chef. It was at Charles Nob Hill where Perello garnered great critical acclaim for her California-inspired French cuisine. Her accolades include the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rising Star Chef honor in 2002, one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2004, and three James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nominations in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Her numerous accolades attracted the attention of Fifth Floor, a San Francisco fixture consistently named one of the country’s top restaurants, where Perello took the helm as executive chef. Fifth Floor was subsequently awarded a Michelin star in 2006 under her leadership. In fall 2009, Perello opened her first solo restaurant, Frances, which quickly garnered glowing reviews and earned a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2010. Additionally, Frances was named an Esquire magazine Best New Restaurant by John Mariani and was Bon Appétit magazine’s “Ten Best New Restaurants in America” in 2010. Named after Perello’s grandmother, Frances offers modern California cuisine in a relaxed neighborhood setting.


One of the West Coast’s best chefs tells us what she’s loving right now.