Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner–Cooking With Chef Mellanee Harvin of The Fork Goes To The Left Catering

I have always had a fond appreciation for gastronomy.  My appreciation is a blessing from my own rich culture–Haiti. Growing up in a Haitian household.  Food was part of the expression of showing love and appreciation to friends and family.

Realistically speaking I think every culture has the same appreciation, simply some show it more than others.

So when it came time to produce this interview with Chef Mellanee Harvin, founder of the famous Brooklyn based catering company The Fork Goes On The Left, during the current situation in which the whole world finds themselves faced with during the COVID-19 crisis, I jumped at it.  I wanted very much to put something together that would bring everyone pleasure, while not minimizing the seriousness of the situation.

 

Granted we are all facing the most challenging situation of our lives collectively being quarantined, but there are still somethings that we can still find joy in, and eating is one of them.  Yes, it not only something we must all do, but it is life-saving.

I will admit cooking is something that I enjoy doing on occasion.  I would prefer ordering out or making reservations at one of New York’s finest restaurants, and great eateries,  there is not a shortage of one.  You can’t walk down one New York block and not find countless of options to satisfy your hunger or cravings.  That is the beauty, and privilege of living in this great city.

So for all New Yorkers, whether you are a customer or a proprietor this is devasting times.

But as the whole world knows, New Yorkers are resilient people. Not only will they come out of this, but many will come out of it stronger, and I pray more prepared for the future.

While Governor Cuomo, is very adamant about the stay at home order, only asking that we go out for the necessities, food shopping, and medical shopping.  We chose to go food shopping for the purpose of this article.  On one of the few shopping runs I had to make for our family, I decided this would be the best time for me to produce this segment and use my time wisely.  I wanted to not only cook a mean or meals for my family.  I utilized this to take a private cooking lesson with one of the greats.

 

 

Dressed for the occasion as recommended by the CDC (mask and gloves), shopping list in hand.  I was unstoppable.  I was on a mission to gather everything that I would need that would enable me to have several meals for my family and myself for the next two weeks.

Mellanee Renee Harvin is a veteran chef of over 20 years with recommendations that would make any restaurant owner feel threatened.

So the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon cooking with a chef of her caliber is an honor. The purpose of sharing this experience with you all is to show you while we are forced to stay out home for our safety, it is not a sentence of doom.  Our time can be used to our benefit like perfecting our cooking skills, and for showing love to our family with the meaningful moments we will be able to share that will make this historical moment more memorable.

But don’t think we are not aware of those who don’t have the privilege, or luxury of a home, let alone a kitchen. Thus making these moments even more precious for us. Working with Music Kitchen during this crisis, is increasingly reminding us how fortunate so many of us are.

But these moments can be shared as a couple or as a family.  Everyone can share in the responsibilities and joys of making a meal.  A life skill that will be useful well after this is over.

 

 

So as we are tucked safely away in our homes with our loved ones, let us be conscious of the precious moments we can create together simply by cooking a meal together as a family.

The History of The Chef

We had an opportunity to ask Mellanee a few questions so you all can get to know her better.

How Long Have you been a Chef?

I’ve been a Chef for over 20 years.

What was the inspiration that brought you into this field?
My ex gave me the 1800 number for New York Restaurant School; where I attended & received by honors certification in the Culinary Program.
I became restless, I needed more creativity in my life.  I decided to freelance in 1997.

 

Have there been some negative experiences that ever made you want to quit?
I’ve been fortunate to have had some wonderful clients who love my food and service and continue to refer to me; as their preferred caterer.  However, nothing is perfect; and most terrible client experiences are usually a result of poor communication.
I tend to learn from my horrible experiences– I’ve learned to train my staff on safety and preventative measures.

 

What words of inspiration can you share with those who want to come into the hospitality industry, namely a chef?
For those aspiring to become a Chef; I recommend first and foremost a class in knife skills which will give the confidence to perform in any kitchen situation. Also, take a course or two in your area of interest.  Look into your local culinary schools for a schedule of classes.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on culinary school; unless you want to.

 

During these unprecedented times where couples are being forced to reschedule their weddings, what words of encouragement can you give them?
For couples who had to postpone their wedding; I always look on the bright side. They will probably be in a better situation; it could be a more intimate wedding; if the guest list dwindles or more people may want to join in the celebration.  The one thing I can guarantee–the food and service will be memorable!

 

What recommendation can you give to couples already married and not are forced to cook?
For couples who do not cook–Roast everything!  Season with your favorite seasoning or kosher salt, sea salt and freshly ground pepper with grape seed oil or olive oil.  You can always add your favorite vinaigrette as a marinade to meats.  Adding garlic is also a flavor booster.

 

So on the fun side, what is in your playlist while you are cooking?
My music selection while working in the kitchen, depends on my mood.  I love AfroBeats, Old-School R&B, R&B, Reggae, House Music and Jazz.

 

What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish to eat – I’m greedy–I eat everything.  My favorite cuisines-Caribbean, Southern, of course; African, Indian, Latin, and any and all flavorful food.

 

How can our readers follow you and reach you?
Instagram:  @theforkgoesontheleft
Facebook page: Theforkgoesontheleft

 

While my lesson took over four hours, it was the best four hours of my time spent with someone enjoyable and who truly loves her career path.
So the next time you doubt yourself in the kitchen or simply want to perfect your skills, reach out to Chef Mellanee and see how you too can throw down in the kitchen.  Bon appetite.

 

 

 

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