A Story about Melissa Perez
Melissa Perez comes from a family of well-rounded cooks, but has carved out her niche – working with sweets. Her interest was sparked early on, and from a young age she was on the road to becoming a talented pastry chef.
A first-generation Hispanic American, Melissa attended high school in Everett, MA where she met two of her mentors, Chef Makredes and Chef Parmenter. As one of the first students enrolled in Future Chefs, Melissa was able to grow with the organization from its beginning stages. She liked the personal connection she felt to the program director, who took the time to get to know her and introduce her to chefs in the industry. She reached her goal of attending college and receiving a scholarship in 2010 when she attended New England Culinary Institute (NECI). With Melissa’s determination, her support from Future Chefs helped her achieve her dream.
Melissa’s career quickly took off during her time at NECI, interning at Legal Harborside and Barbara Lynch’s Gruppo. After graduating from NECI, Melissa’s first pastry position was at Rialto working for Jody Adams, where she was promoted to Assistant Pastry Chef. Her impressive resume also includes Pastry Cook at Benedetto, Baker at Area 4 and Pastry Chef at Forklift Catering. In the next few years, Melissa plans to continue to explore the different outlets of the baking and pastry world, including learning to work with chocolate and possibly bread baking. And as she continues to grow and learn in the industry, she’ll be working out the details of her long-term goal, running her own business.
Recently, Melissa has returned to Future Chefs to work with students, helping teach our first bi-lingual FC Prepares class at East Boston High School. She was an integral part of the Small Plates Pop-Up, helping students create deserts for the event (including a melt in your mouth salted caramel éclair!). Melissa was inspired to work at Future Chefs because she wanted to give back to the program, and to ED Toni Elka, who in her words, is “the force behind all of this.” She believes that young people need a positive group to be a part of, something that helps their skill set, and allows them to grow as young adults.
Melissa is thrilled to report that she and her friends from the program are all doing well. “We're all succeeding – and the support I've received from Future Chefs is immense. It’s not every day that you find people that really care. I always felt welcome.”