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Melanie Underwood

Founder, CEO

“Cooking can break down all types of barriers and unite us all. I’ve repeatedly
observed the many ways learning to cook and bake enriches lives - connecting with oneself, friends, and family, creating community, and developing self-confidence. ” 

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. Melanie teaches private cooking classes and speaks on mindfulness, creativity, and calm and how to bring them to the workplace.

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.

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. For teens, Melanie's philosophy is educating students to think both critically and creatively while developing a sense of confidence in themselves.

Melanie believes that we can connect through food, cooking, and eating - all ways to gather. Teaching allows her to align with people and listen to their stories, fears, and hopes.

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


Melanie is currently working on her next book, Rule Breaking Baking - Baking without Recipes. She continues to teach and host culinary retreats and camps. 

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