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Melanie Underwood

Founder, CEO

“Cooking can break down all types of barriers and unite us all. I’ve repeatedly observed how
learning to cook and bake enriches lives by connecting with oneself, friends, and family, creating community, and developing self-confidence.
We strive to create a culture of belonging.” 

Passionate, engaging, and committed to her student's growth, Melanie thrives by connecting with others and teaching them techniques; to develop confidence, curiosity, creativity, and calm in the kitchen. Melanie's philosophy for kids and teens is educating students to think critically and creatively while developing self-confidence. 

Melanie is also a certified mindfulness instructor; her unique approach uses food to teach acceptance, kindness, and connection. Food is a common denominator and brings a sense of belonging and togetherness while allowing for conversations about food, but also conversations that naturally unfold in class - whether there are about culture or how to connect with people or many other topics, Melanie creates a safe and comfortable environment where others feel good about themselves and, in turn, feel safe enough to trust others, creating a space of caring and kindness through cooking.


Melanie’s enthusiasm for fresh and organic food developed as a child on her family farm in Loudoun County, Virginia, where she began cooking at age four with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Eloise, taught her to bake with intuition and discernment. Her grandfather, Charlie, would invite the community over for butchering in the winter and canning in the summer, and these roots of connections began to solidify. Her family instilled this appreciation of food, family, and friends.





She began working at a bakery in high school but never considered this a career choice. Quickly realizing this was the ONLY career choice. She apprenticed in Washington, D.C., before moving to New York, where she opened The Four Seasons Hotel and worked at The Plaza Hotel, Torre di Pisa, and other celebrated New York City restaurants. 


In 1996 she transitioned to teaching and found her true passion as a cooking and baking instructor for professional and recreational programs at the Institute of Culinary Education, where she worked until 2020.

Some of her television appearances include TV Food Network, ABC, NBC and CNN. Some of her clients include Rodale Books, Weber Shandwick Worldwide,  Dairy Management Inc., Ziploc, the National Pork Board, Planter’s Peanuts, Microsoft, and many more.

Her book, Making Artisan Cheesecake, was published in 2015 (Quarto Books), and she has contributed to numerous cookbooks.

Melanie is working on her next book, Rule Breaking Baking - Baking without Recipes. 

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