Chef Melissa Perello has been an avid cook since childhood. Spending summers in the kitchen with her grandmother, Frances, in Northern Texas, the young chef was influenced by culinary titans like Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree. Following her passion by working in a kitchen at a local country club during high school, she later attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
Upon graduation, Chef 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. Crediting Siegel as a defining influence, 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. She also earned three consecutive James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nominations from 2002-2004, 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 located in downtown San Francisco. The Fifth Floor already had a reputation as one of the country’s top restaurants, however, with Chef Perello’s arrival and talent, she managed to improve upon that reputation, winning the restaurant a coveted Michelin star in 2006.
After years in the kitchen and a whirlwind of early successes, Chef Perello took a hiatus from the San Francisco restaurant industry to travel and refocus on food with the ultimate goal of opening a restaurant and making a mark on San Francisco that was completely her own. In 2009, Frances was born. Named for the grandmother who had nurtured her young talent, it was no surprise that Frances quickly gained effusive praise and glowing reviews, both nationally and locally, from such institutions as the James Beard Foundation, Bon Appétit magazine, Esquire magazine, as well as earning a Michelin star.
In 2015, Octavia, Chef Perello’s second San Francisco restaurant, opened with critical acclaim and holds a Michelin star. With the same culinary ethos that has made her restaurants beloved staples in the San Francisco and California dining scene, Perello continues to expand her culinary influence throughout California, providing guidance to Frances while cementing Octavia’s future in the San Francisco culinary scene.