Born in South Africa, living in L.A and retiring in Italy!

Howzit.. I’m Melissa, a Jewish South African Chef, yoga fanatic, mom, wife and world traveler. An eternal optimist and all around Braai Babe , I love karaoke, steak and dark chocolate. I believe abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym… It’s so important to Eat the Rainbow.

Ever heard of biltong, boerewors, bobotie, bredie or braaivleis? You’re not alone. Yet these dishes are the cornerstones of every South African’s diet. This is the food I grew up eating.

I learned to cook at my mom’s knee. I was her official taster. She‘d always say, “Melissa, if you need a recipe, you can’t cook!” So I was taught to taste my way to the perfect dish.

Like many South Africans I have a large personality. My front door is always open, and my home is full of guests and an abundance of good food. This is the South African way.

After completing my MBA I moved to California. I spent years cooking for prominent Hollywood studios and used this time to experiment.
Influenced by my South African roots and my travels, I created a style of cooking uniquely my own. I met my hunky South African husband, Saul, and gave birth to our beautiful daughter (and my best friend) Jade, who is now a teenager.

We love to travel. I literally eat my way through each country, trying out new dishes and flavors. I developed a love affair with Italy. We bought a home in Lucca, where I plan on retiring to my little farm house with a big fig tree.

I’m passionate about food, but I also enjoy feeling fit and healthy. I believe abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. It is 70% diet and 30% exercise. By cooking with fresh ingredients, you control what you put in your body.

I enjoy grilling and roasting colorful, crunchy food that is visibly appealing, because people eat with their eyes first. My style of cooking suits everyday lifestyles. I use simple, uncomplicated methods and the recipes are quick and based on what is in season.

I like to serve food family style, at room temperature so I can enjoy my guests. Nothing beats entertaining and sharing stories together over a good meal.

Thanks for following along xxx Chef MM

Chef Melissa Mayo's favourited recipes


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