Melissa Muller Daka

Bar Eolo and Pastai, NYC

Melissa Muller-Daka is a restaurateur, cook and writer. She holds a degree in Middle Eastern languages and cultures and a masters degree in journalism, both from Columbia University, as well as a certificate in culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute. Once dubbed “the Kitchen Mistress” by a New York Post critic, Melissa was born in New York, but owes her passion for food to childhood summers spent in rural Sicily, where she learned the value of being connected to the land. By the time Melissa was four years old, she was a regular sous chef in her mother Josephine’s kitchen. By age 22, Melissa’s dream of opening a restaurant came to fruition, when she developed “Osteria del Gallo Nero,” in Greenwich Village, which she successfully operated for the duration of the establishment’s lease. In 2010, Melissa opened Bar Eolo, a self-professed “love letter to Sicily.” Inspired by her childhood adventures and fascination with the food culture of the region, Eolo’s seasonal menus reflect the history and cultural calendar of Sicily. Melissa’s latest venture, Pastai, an artisan pasta bar, opened in March 2013. In addition to running both restaurants, Melissa is writing her first cookbook about contemporary Sicilian gastronomy.

Who was your most influential mentor?
Sam Freedman, an author and journalism professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who gifted me the courage to believe in my skill as a writer

What is your least favorite food?
Anything processed

What was your first job in the culinary world?
I was a sous chef in my mother's home kitchen



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