Melissa Perello is the executive chef/owner of Frances, 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, N.Y., 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 there she 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 honors 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. Frances was named an Esquire magazine Best New Restaurant by John Mariani and was one of 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.
Sometimes basic is just plain better, and never is this more true than with a delicious roast chicken for your next dinner.
Zuni Roast Chicken With Bread Salad is a great recipe. My go-to recipe at home is always a roast chicken. In fact, one of my favorite ingredients in cooking is the drippings from roast chicken, and this recipe uses the drippings deliciously. I usually use this recipe as inspiration and add my own touch, changing the greens or garnish seasonally.
With hopes of a comeback on the horizon, this cozy spot, which suffered a fire, holds many a warm memory.
Manka's Inverness Lodge, which, sadly, burned down in 2006, was owned by chef Margaret Grade. It was such a cool, quaint, and rustic spot, home to many of my most memorable meals. The food was always delicious, creative, and hyperlocal. Margaret had this creative way of wording her menus, and the service was always spot-on—the perfect place for a romantic dinner, with a huge fireplace and a big dog plopped down in front of the fire. I've heard that a new restaurant might be in the works, so I'm starting to get excited again!
Not your cookie-cutter cookbook, this will have you getting creative and not just following directions.
I've been very into At Elizabeth David's Table: Her Very Best Everyday Recipes for its simplicity and style. The recipes are loosely written from a chef's perspective, so the book offers ideas more than exact and precise recipes. It's also a compilation of some of her best recipes through the years, so there's a wonderful variety in there that stylistically fits with my kind of food. I find it inspiring.
There are too many great things to love about the city of Paris, and the food scene is at the top of that list.
I haven't been to Paris in many years, but I love the city—it's so inspiring. The markets are filled with the freshest and most incredible ingredients, and the cuisine is generally simple yet satisfying. I've heard a lot about Spring Restaurant, which I would like to try. Besides the great food, I love checking out the city's flea markets, antique shops, and museums. Or just enjoy a great cup of coffee and people-watch.