Dining With Celebrity Chef Melba Is A Peach

Chef Melba Wilson is considered the queen of soul food if you ask anyone that considers themselves a foodie. I can recall whenever I had any guests visiting from all walks of life, from around the world,

they all wanted to visit Harlem, New York, one of the hotspots on their list would have to be Melba’s Soul Food Restaurant in New York City.

Food is one of the paramount ways to experience the Black culture. Food goes beyond sustenance to Black people, it is about the people cooking it, who they are cooking it for and the experiences around the dinner table. Every dish has a story, every bit of it is dipped with love and seasoned with pride by the person preparing your meal.

Melba’s restaurant became the Sunday home for everyone all over the city, the country, around the world to visit on Sundays. If you didn’t make a reservation and didn’t beat the church crowd from Harlem, welp.. Try again next Sunday. Or maybe during the week you stand a better chance. Melba’s Restaurant is historical.

So after running into her this past summer at Miami Swim Week, I knew I had to interview her for our holiday and engagement issue. What better issue than to talk to the queen of home cooking during the busiest time of the wedding industry when couples are going home to meet the family, popping the question and making plans to fall in love. Besides the amazing restaurants and eateries around the world and extending to outside of the US. Anyone that is a foodie will appreciate all she has in store for you which would include her cookbook and other ventures.

WBM is simply fascinated by this amazing entrepreneur that is fully immersed in everything culinary. When asked about her occupation I could not help but giggle at her response and I had to share it.

Occupation? “Dishwasher. Check signer. Hostess. Server. Restaurateur, Lover of All Things Food.” And she holds all these positions with pride.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO THE CULINARY SPACE?
My love of using food as a conduit to bring a diverse group of people together and spark conversations while enabling us to focus on our similarities and understanding our differences is one of the main reasons I got into cooking.

WITH THE SUCCESS OF YOUR RESTAURANTS, THAT MAKES YOU AN EXPERT IN THE ART OF ENTERTAINMENT. WHAT TIPS CAN YOU SHARE WITH OUR READERS ABOUT THE ETIQUETTE OF DESIGNING A MENU FOR THEIR WEDDING RECEPTION?
The menu for YOUR wedding reception should include all-time favorites of the bride and groom which evoke memorable moments from childhood, times spent together, while being inclusive of their guest palates. I personally love calligraphy along with a champagne/ wine bar. Specialty cocktails in honor of the bride and groom are fun! Be sure to have professionals to set a table that is memorable and creates
a wow factor for you! Colors, plating, linen and florals are a great way to add texture and substance to your setting. Since this is your special day, you may consider splurging and treating yourself to a few luxurious specialty items should your heart desire such.

WHAT SHOULD OUR COUPLE KEEP IN MIND WHEN PLANNING DATE NIGHT AND OTHER SPECIAL OC- CASIONS?
Date Night and other special occasions can include cooking together, thought provoking dishes which include aphrodisiac selections, surprising the other with a different type of cuisine, candles, rose petals, a romantic picnic, poetry, low lighting and soft music are great ways to set the tone for a tantalizing date.

YOU HAVE A GREAT COOKBOOK, CAN YOU TELL US WHY YOU DECIDE TO PRODUCE BOOKS?
I have written one book and have featured recipes in a few others. Writing is a great escape for me as well as a wonderful way to have others experience my fondest family meals in the comfort of their home.

My cookbook, entitled Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Kitchen to Your Home is a labor of love. It is my very first book ever written. It features stories which document the quilt of my life, with generational recipes woven in.

WHERE CAN OUR READERS ACQUIRE YOUR BOOKS?
Many local book stores as well as online.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
I am super excited about Melba’s in Newark, my dog food line and a few other projects we are working on.

DO YOU PROVIDE PRIVATE CATERING SERVICES?
We provide full service catering services for 20-10,000 guests.

WILL YOU BE OPENING UP IN THE MIDDLE EAST REGION?
I was invited to visit the Middle East and fell completely in love with the productiveness and the openness to do business especially in Dubai, which is a thriving international hub for entrepreneurs.

I found the people extremely forward thinking, open to new ideas, friendly and extremely hospitable. I have not signed a deal yet however, I am in talks with two major entities.

Ladies and gentlemen… there you have it. Melba’s Restaurants features the best gastronomy in the New York area reflective of the Black experience that is also a celebration of the American experience. Bon Appetit.

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