Melissa Clark

Coolstuff Team
February 16, 2024

Meet Melissa, a recipe developer, cookbook author, and New York Times journalist who makes everything we want to eat. As a lifelong New Yorker, Melissa worked her way through the culinary world and built the life experience that she has chanelled into her work. Which, by the way, includes more than THREE DOZEN cookbooks. We caught up with Melissa to hear how she got here.

What led you to start your career in the food world?

I'd say I'm a food writer and recipe developer, not really a chef since I haven't cooked in a professional kitchen in decades. My first restaurant cooking experience was as a brunch cook at a Brooklyn cafe back when I was in High School. Then I started my own tiny catering company in grad school. I learned a lot - including that cooking in professional kitchens is completely different from cooking at home. And I prefer being at home, where I have more control!

I started cooking when I was a kid. My parents were obsessed with food, it was our family language. We talked about it constantly when we weren't actually eating it, planning the next meal, future holiday menus, what restaurants we wanted to explore. Making it into a career was the obvious choice for me as a writer. It was already the central metaphor in my life, the lens I couldn't help but see everything through.

Do you have a favorite recipe you've created?

Red lentil soup with lemon. It's my go-to and it's perfect. 

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community? 

The energy here. There's always a buzz, always something going on, always someone to learn from.

What’s the best restaurant in NYC?

Ha! I can't answer that. Playing favorites isn't my thing. But I can say that I love eating out in New York (see above, it's energy here)!

What’s inspiring you right now?

Citrus and radicchio. In the middle of winter, it's all I've got. I'm really looking forward to the moment when those first chives and sorrel leaves start sprouting on my deck. But satsumas and yuzus are getting me through winter.

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