Melissa Mayo - CHEF

A Food Network chef, author, speaker and mom dedicated to turning you into a Rockstar in the kitchen. During the summers I teach food lovers how to create mouthwatering dishes under the Tuscan sun. Here you will find the very best recipes, travel guides, videos and wellness tips. So let's cook it off!



BORN IN SA / LIVING IN LA/ RETIRING IN ITALYWatch the video to meet Melissa



Welcome to my family. I’m so glad you found me. I am all about celebrating La Dolce Vita. Italians understand true happiness is found around the table. It’s a place you don’t age.

The sweet life is made up of long lazy meals, delicious food, great conversation and exciting adventures. Finding joy, slowing down and savoring every mouthful and moment.

This site is dedicated to turning you into a Rockstar in the kitchen. It is full of delicious and easy recipes that you’ll make over and over. You’ll find tons of quick, healthy, simple dishes made with real food.

I use high quality, fresh, seasonal produce and let it shine as the star. But the secret ingredient in every recipe, is the love you put into it. A home cooked meal is the best way to show friends and family you care.



My goal is to teach you how to master kitchen basics. How to stock your pantry. How to turn a big shop into a week of delicious meals that take 20 minutes or less. How to create big flavor by mastering the spice palate.

Spices are calorie free flavor weapons. When you understand how to combine them you give your food a passport so it can travel around the world without ever leaving your kitchen.

In case you haven’t guessed it, I’m Melissa. A chef, mom, wife, world traveler and eternal optimist. The kitchen is the heart of the home. I’m my happiest when I am chopping, sautéing, grilling, roasting and prepping.

I love the sizzle of a good steak and the smell of garlic and rosemary perfuming the air. I love warm crusty bread with velvety olive oil. I love bold red wine and rich dark chocolate. I love espresso so strong you can spit a hole in the sidewalk. I love to eat!


Ever heard of biltong, boerewors, or braaivleis? You’re not alone. Yet these dishes are the cornerstones of every South African’s diet. This is the food I grew up eating.

I was raised in a Jewish home, where food was at the center of everything. And no, I am not some fancy chef. I learned to cook at my mom’s knee. I was her official taster. She‘d always say, “Melissa, if you need a recipe, you can’t cook!” So I was taught to taste, taste, taste my way to the perfect dish.

After completing my MBA I moved to California. I spent several years cooking for the biggest Hollywood studios, A list celebrities and Oscar winner Hans Zimmer. I also appeared on two seasons of “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills on Food Network.



My front door is always open, and my home is full of guests and an abundance of good food. The table is the best place for people to laugh and connect. And entertaining does not have to be complicated. If you plan ahead and stick to a timetable you should be done with the cooking before everyone arrives.

I like to serve food family style at room temperature using large bowls and big platters so I can enjoy my guests. Presentation is so important too. You need to create rainbow colored food that is visibly appealing, because people eat with their eyes first.

And there will be disasters and failures. I clearly remember my first attempt at turkey. I had no clue it needed 36 hours to defrost. When we cut it open there was ice at the center. So we ordered pizza, served it on fancy plates and going forward, I learned to buy an unfrozen bird.


I traveled all the way to Los Angeles to meet my hunky, South African husband Saul. He is my soul mate and supports all my crazy dreams. Together we have surfed the oceans of the world.  The sea is my greatest classroom. It's where I go to manifest and heal. I'm humbled, that at 46 I can still get up on a surf board and ride the waves.

We have a magnificent and talented teenage daughter Jade, who is my entire life and my very best friend. She has the voice of an angel and I feel so blessed to be her mom. Family is everything to me. They make every day better.

When I met Saul I had barely traveled but he has ants in his pants. Over the last 18 years he has shown me the world. We have a huge map dotted with pins of all the places we’ve been. I literally eat my way through each country, trying out new dishes and flavors. And these travels have influenced my style of cooking.


I developed a love affair with Italy. No matter how many places we visited I just wanted to go back. I spent over a decade sending daily energy to my manifestation. Three years ago we purchased a  home in Lucca, and I opened my gorgeous Italian cooking school "Susina Cucina".

During the summers I teach food lovers how to create mouthwatering dishes under the Tuscan sun. My retreats are a red-carpet VIP back stage pass to experience the real Bella Italia you won't find in a guide book. I share my passion for Italy, its’ food, wine, culture and people.

Italians understand the true meaning of “La Dolce Vita”. The sweet life is made up of long lazy afternoons, enjoying incredible food and great conversation. The slow (piano) pace is almost non-existent in this plugged in world. I treasure their history, values and traditions and my Italian gets better with every visit.


I’m passionate about food, but I also enjoy feeling fit and energized.The goal is longevity. I believe that a healthy body needs a healthy soul. It's more important to work in than it is to work out. So a daily mediation and spiritual practice is essential.

Nutrition is also key. By cooking with fresh ingredients, you control what you put in your body. When I moved to America, I missed the tastes of home. So I began recreating them in my kitchen. Once I was in control of the ingredients, the weight I had been holding onto in my teens and 20's just fell off.

That's why I believe that abs are made in the Kitchen. I aim to EAT THE RAINBOW and don't believe in crazy diets or restrictions. I eat everything. But the secret to achieving your dream body, is to make healthy, clean and delicious home cooked meals.



The best way to connect is to join my "Private Club MM” community. When you subscribe you'll get my FREE How to Cook Masterclass with all my secrets.

It’s a game changer if you want to become a Master Chef. You'll also get access to our private group and receive my weekly newsletter with exclusive content I create just for you.

And send me an email. I'd love to hear from you and get to know you better. I try respond to every single message.

You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Make sure to subscribe to my Podcast on iTunes and Spotify, to hear amazing interviews and get inspired. So let’s cook it off.




Being in front of a live audience is my oxygen. I love nothing more than inspiring and motivating others!



If you’ve got a major conference, event, retreat or workshop planned and you’re looking for a keynote speaker, you are in the right place. Request videos and examples of my work with my amazing clients.


  1. The How to Cook MasterClass.
  2. How to Manifest anything you desire?
  3. The skinny on the Italian diet.
  4. How to add a little "La Dolce Vita" to your life?
  5. How to create a week of dinners from one shop?
  6. How to master the spice palette?
  7. How to entertain like a pro without stressing?
  8. How to cook your way to your dream body?



I live to tell stories and ask questions. If you are looking for someone to host your next event or show, conduct live or taped interviews or moderate a panel, you've come to the right place. I also host the "La Dolce Vita Podcast". If you think you'd be a great guest or you have a question for me, go ahead and email me.



I’m glad that you are interested in collaborating with me! Looking for product reviews, recipe development or you want to do a promo or giveaway. Each project is individually planned and implemented to meet your specific goals. I only work with brands I love that add value to my audience. Let's get started and create some epic content.

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