Chef Melissa Perello has been an avid cook since childhood. Spending summers in the kitchen in northern Texas with her grandmother, Frances, the young chef was influenced by culinary titans like Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree. Following her passion, Perello worked in a kitchen at a local country club during high school and later attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
Upon graduation, Perello moved across the country to San Francisco to begin her career at Aqua, where Michael Mina was both a teacher and an important influence on the rising star chef. After her time at Aqua, Perello moved to Charles Nob Hill, working alongside chef Ron Siegel, whom she credits as a defining influence. During her time at Charles Nob Hill, Perello began cultivating long-lasting relationships with purveyors and farmers, giving her access to the finest locally produced ingredients – a practice that would become a staple of her culinary style. Shortly after joining chef Siegel at Charles Nob Hill, Perello ascended to the position of executive chef, where she garnered critical acclaim from local and national outlets, and was named one of San Francisco Chronicle’s Rising Star Chefs in 2002. Perello also earned three consecutive James Beard Foundation Award Rising Star Chef nominations in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was lauded as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2004.
In 2005, Perello took the helm at the highly respected Fifth Floor restaurant in downtown San Francisco. The Fifth Floor already had a reputation as one of the country’s top restaurants, however, with Perello’s arrival, she elevated the restaurant’s cuisine, earning the restaurant a coveted Michelin star in 2006.
After years in the kitchen and a whirlwind of early successes, Perello took a hiatus from the restaurant industry to travel and refocus on food with the ultimate goal of opening a restaurant and making her own mark on San Francisco. In 2009, Frances was born. Named for the grandmother who had nurtured her young talent, Frances quickly gained critical praise and glowing reviews, both locally and nationally, from such institutions as the James Beard Foundation, Bon Appétit and Esquire magazines. Frances also earned a Michelin star.
In 2015, Perello’s second San Francisco restaurant, Octavia, opened, quickly earning critical acclaim and a Michelin star in its first year, which it still holds today. With the same culinary ethos that has made her restaurants beloved staples in the San Francisco dining scene, Perello plans to expand her culinary influence with the summer 2019 opening of M. Georgina at Row DTLA, one of Los Angeles’ most anticipated and largest adaptive reuse developments. Named after her other grandmother, M. Georgina will follow in the style of Frances and Octavia, with an approachable-yet-elevated use of seasonal, responsibly sourced ingredients complimented by warm, gracious service.
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