Melissa Muller was born in New York, yet from a young age she felt uncomfortable amongst the skyscrapers and used to daydream about her Sicily, spending every summer vacation in a small village, Sant’Anna, where her maternal grandmother was born. To experience the intense aromas of Sicily in New York, she began to cook old family recipes as a teenager, saying, “this was the only way I felt truly at home.”
Melissa graduated from Columbia University where she also earned a Masters degree at the Graduate School of Journalism. In addition, she obtained a diploma from the International Culinary Center. Her mind and heart never stopped contemplating about the intense splendor of Sicily, where she says one can “inhale the sweet perfumes of orange blossom flowers all year long.”
Her passion for Sicilian food transformed into a career when she opened her first restaurant which had immediate success. Her driving force was “to cook for [her] customers so that their senses could travel to Sicily.” She then opened another two successful Sicilian restaurants in Manhattan, which highlighted the historical traditions and classic flavors of Sicily. In the kitchen, she found a way of escaping from the city, allowing her soul to remain in her beloved Sicily. She has been featured in multiple media outlets, including The New York Times, Saveur and La Repubblica, as well as on CNN, The Food Network, RAI (Italian television), Martha Stewart Radio and on Real Food with Mike Colameco on PBS.
Over the last decade, she researched the ingredients that are most genuine and aromatic, beginning a long journey to all corners of the immense island. Along the way, she searched out the finest cheeses, wines, undiscovered wild herbs, typical desserts and met with Sicilian cooks – from top chefs to grandmothers. The fruits of her extensive research are gathered in Sicily: The Cookbook, which will be released in April 2017 by Rizzoli.