While we love inundating your Instagram feeds with daily doses of food porn, we are firm believers that you should know the people behind your food as well as where it is coming from. Our 12 Days of Chefmas series seeks to introduce you to the faces behind some of your favorite restaurants and brands. Follow along for the next 12 days as we help you get to know these talented humans a little better.
Melody Pere | RISE, Mystic
How did you get started in the kitchen:
As far as the kitchen world, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I was 20 before I decided I wanted to learn how to cook. My step-father was an avid home cook and I always admired his ability to wing it in the kitchen... although the results were often mixed. I was out to eat one day and saw a help wanted sign looking for a dishwasher. On a whim I applied in the hopes that I could work my way up. I have been in the industry ever since.
Favorite ingredient to work with:
I love butter with every part of my being. I remember the day I was introduced to Plugra... my butter intake skyrocketed to an almost shameful level. When I cook big meals for my family my brother Mike always hangs out with me in the kitchen and it boggles his mind how much I use. I can hear him yelling at me now, "Jesus Christ, Mel" as he laughs in disbelief. It has become a long running joke in our household. He never seems to complain about eating my food though!
Favorite item on your menu:
As we like to say around the shop, "Pancakes are my thing." I have had a love affair with them since I was a kid and I was dedicated to coming up with a killer recipe for Rise. We make them from scratch every morning and have our flour milled for us by Farm to Hearth right here in CT. I have people come up to me all the time to ask what our secret is... I will never tell.
Favorite holiday dish to eat or cook:
I love cooking big meals for my family and friends. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a feast and drinking good wine with my loved ones. My go-to for Christmas is a whole roasted NY strip. It's simple but decadent enough to celebrate the occasion. I don't get to eat red meat very often so I like to make sure it is the main event at our holiday table.
Restaurant in Connecticut that you're dying to try:
Not really a restaurant, but Milkcraft in Fairfield recently started following Rise on Instagram. I had never heard of them before that, so I checked out their page... I am an absolute ice cream fiend and theirs looks insanely good! I don't know how I feel about liquid nitrogen, but I don't really care, I want a giant bubble cone. I am drooling just thinking about it.
Funniest kitchen story:
I first have to say that in my 10 years in kitchens, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the funniest, most amazing people I have ever met. I am so fortunate to have my days filled with constant laughter. A recent story is a nod to a great John Mulaney bit where he recounts torturing the patrons of a diner with Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat." My sous and I get in early to prep and sometimes I take that opportunity to put on ridiculous music that I could never get away with during service. I was joking about putting on William Shatner radio until Sean told me to go for it. I grabbed our mp3 player and proceeded to put "What's New Pussycat" on a loop. Sean continued prepping, thinking it was just part of William Shatner radio. As the song continued I could see him getting more and more vexed as he made comments like, "geez is this a 10 minutes long song?!?" I kept playing it off, in disbelief that he didn't realize what was going on, especially since we had listened to that Mulaney sketch several weeks prior. The song played all the way through 3 times until finally on the 4th go around the light went on in Sean's head and he yelled, "oh my God, you're John Mulaney-ing me!!!!!" I was dying!