Chef Melissa Kelly
Chef Melissa Kelly
Melissa Kelly is the Executive Chef and proprietor of Primo, located in mid-coast Maine. She is the 1999 James Beard Foundation Awards winner of the American Express Best Chef, Northeast Award. She was also nominated in 1998.
Her earliest cooking lessons took place in her Italian grandmother's kitchen. In fact, she still favors Mediterranean accented foods. Melissa attended the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY and graduated first in her class. Melissa's post-graduate education took place in some of the top restaurant kitchens in the country.
With a resume that includes the posh Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia; Bluebeards Castle, St. Thomas USVI and An American Place in New York; Melissa began her career. Continuing to broaden her culinary skills, Melissa moved west to work with Reed Heron of restaurant Lulu and the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Melissa says, "I didn't have a style when I got there. By the time I left, I did simplicity, seasonality, freshness." Melissa has spent time in the southwest working with Melvin Masters in Denver, Colorado. Her travels have taken her to Barbados and the south of France to create culinary feasts for private families, as well as to Japan where she assisted in the opening of a satellite An American Place.
Chef Kelly was named one of the upcoming chefs of the 90's by Food & Wine magazine. Nation's Restaurant News, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Chocolatier, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Town & Country, and New York Magazine, among others, have all recognized her culinary talents. With Melissa at the helm of the kitchen, The Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Inn was named one of "The Best New Restaurants" by Esquire magazine and both "Gourmet Retreat of the Year" and a "Grand Winner" by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report. The Inn, located in Old Chatham, New York, was a Relais & Chateaux property and a Mobil Four-Star Award winner.
In 2003 Kelly partnered with JW Marriott to open a second Primo at the Grande Lakes Orlando, Florida. A third followed in 2003 at Starr Pass Resort; Tucson, Arizona.
The menu at Primo changes every day to insure the highest, quality ingredients. Chef Kelly's farm fresh regional cuisine, much of which is grown right on the restaurants property, with Mediterranean accents can be summed up best in the words of one reviewer, "worth a drive from just about anywhere."