A former Executive Chef turned full-time traveling food blogger. Now an empty-nester, she is a mom of three, a grandma of two (plus a grand-pup) & a wife to one amazing partner. If not at a farmers market or trying out a new recipe, Melissa can probably be found curled up reading a cookbook, cover to cover, with a good cup of coffee in hand! Being the creative mind & natural adventurer of the family this ‘road-trip’ life she now leads suits her well! A life-long passion cooking with good, real, healthful food from local farms & markets is well fulfilled as she now gets to shop in markets, & on farms, all over the country… so there are always a new food discoveries just waiting to be found. As Melissa sees it, life is for experiences & memories which should include sourcing, preparing & eating real food with good people. This thought process is from the core of her beliefs that connecting with others is the most important thing we can do in this life & that sitting down to share a meal is still one of the most authentic, no-barrier ways to really do just that …connect! With Cultivated Journey she will pull from her life & career experiences to help food lovers that travel get the most from their own culinary journey. She thinks that at the heart of being a Chef, her joy lies in relating to people through food, & even if only in a moment, making their life somehow better. “Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.” – Anthony Bourdain
G.R. is the fun-maker of the family. He is always up for a gathering or hanging out together & while he doesn’t plan the menus, he is the best Sous Chef around! His adult life actually begun in the food industry & as can happen, family came calling & that changed. His mother needed him to come work for her upon the passing of his father in 1998 and at that point became a (somewhat reluctant) home inspector & eventually a business owner. Before he knew it, twenty years had passed & while life was fine, he was ready for a change. Reunited 5+ years ago, they are one of those great ‘come back together’love stories. Really! G.R. & Melissa dated (a near-lifetime ago) in college, are now happily married & knew they wanted more than ‘fine’ for their life together. They live BIG … sharing a love of each other, their family, their life of travel & of course, all things culinary. A hobby drummer, G.R. loves music- always playing tunes, always tapping out the beat on a nearby table. Being from Kansas City, BBQ runs through his veins & he is quite an accomplished meat smoker. Yet, despite the ‘rock n roll’ side, G.R. is the more steady & analytical of the duo, bringing a needed ‘calm’ to their eternally ‘crazy’ overlapping work-life balance. You know, someone has to do it!
Now, for the true rock star in this band of merry misfits, & thus, the longest bio… Harper is Melissa & G.R.s grand-dog. Harper’s dad is Melissa’s son Alex & she was his princess. Alex would always say that she was ‘his girl’, and to see them together, you knew that she truly was! In August of 2016 while at college, Alex died very unexpectedly. Even through the shock & devastation, where Harper was, & getting to her right away was one of Melissa’s first thoughts. She has been with Gramma & Papa since. Harper is spunky 4-year old Carolina Dog, aka the American Dingo, & she has a huge personality. She doesn’t get a lot of table food, & while I wouldn’t say she has a refined palette, she will delicately accept a treat if offered & then chew it, as if to savor the taste, like no dog I have seen (you know, most of them are gulpers!) She can be quite ‘forceful’ with her desire to be petted as she will use her paws, like hands, to reach out & pull your hand to her! Harper loves to run, & is so fast, but isn’t a giant fan of water, though with trips to the beach she is getting better! Most often, you will find her either curled into a perfect circle (when lying alone) or sprawled on her back (next to us), legs in the air, doing what she does best —taking a nap! She is quite the cuddle-pup, but don’t move or breathe wrong — you’ll get the growl. It sounds serious, but it’s not … all grrrr & no action! Melissa often says “I know Alex saved her, but this dear, sweet dog quite frankly saved me” Harper, the amazing “dingo princess” & honorary mascot of the journey, we love you!!
“FAMILY IS NOT AN IMPORTANT THING, IT’S EVERYTHING !”