The Quick and Dirty:
Who: Melissa Fairchild Clark
What: Cook, chef instructor, writer, food stylist,baker, recipe tester and developer, accidental caterer.
Where: Brookside, NJ by way of Oakland, CA
Why: After four years spent struggling to find comfort in a cubicle, I decided (in the course of four hours and four fingers of bourbon, as one is wont to do), that I’d chosen the wrong path for myself. I took a realistic look at who I was by nature and wanted to become by nurture, recognizing that the only way I would be professionally fulfilled was by course correcting towards something creative in which I could own everything from start to finish, never run out of things to learn, advocate for a more conscious lifestyle, and catalyze the QT.
Sign: Scorpio. Gemini moon. Born on the day of the boss.
Spirit Animals: Michael Pollan, Wes Anderson, Matty Matheson, Socrates, Canis Tobis.
Deathbed meal: Vegetable sesame pancake and fried vegetable dumplings with sriracha, M Noodle Shop, Williamsburg Brooklyn.
Drink of choice with friends: Broncolada, Donna, Williamsburg Brooklyn.
Drink of choice at home: Rosé, currently Front Porch Farm.
Favorite Place: in a canoe surrounded by mountain peaks, not far from an Adirondack chair and the homies who make me better.
Favorite Band: The Black Keys.
Favorite Movie: The Life Aquatic.
Favorite Person: Canis Tobis (not a person).
Favorite Post-work meal: BLT with pâté instead of mayo.
Foods I love: Ripe beefsteak tomatoes, watermelon and french breakfast radishes, shiitake mushrooms, fresh pasta, english peas, crusty bread, New York slices, Babs’ salsa, gyros with extra tzatziki, BLT’s, lobster rolls, brownies, fattoush and greek salads, bright orange runny egg yolks, slow caramelized onions. That said, whatever I just ate, I’d rather have had a cheeseburger (with slow caramelized onions and a bright orange runny egg yolk, of course).
Foods I decidedly do not love: Red bell pepper (working on it because EAT YOUR RAINBOW KIDS), dried oregano, lemon-thyme, beets, yellow mustard, hard boiled egg yolk, donuts, chili-cheese things, pepperoni, american orange juice, pepsi (soda of serial killers).
My philosophy: What I do revolves around the perimeter of the grocery store (partly to avoid remembering that Oreos are a thing) during the week, the farmers market (where Oreos are definitely not a thing) on weekends. I strongly believe in eating locally, sustainably, within the season, and from the solar food chain rather than the fossil fuel chain. I endeavor to support small farms and local businesses because they work their buns off for us and give our communities a lot more street cred than they would have otherwise. I believe in healthy fats, natural sugars, and all things grown and sustained within 1-2 degrees separation from the sun and the dirt. I don’t believe in low fat, fat free, sugar free, processed-and-packaged chemical shitstorms, naturally steer clear of soy, and try to be cognizant of my dairy and grain intake because it doesn’t make me feel awesome. That said, I am not here to fear monger and feed you a bunch of nonsense born from pseudo-science; I’ve read the books, keep up on the articles, worked for the people, and am very much not about that life! At the end of the day I think we know our bodies better than anyone else, and should simply endeavor to educate ourselves and eat what makes us feel good, that is delicious, and is preventative rather than reactive.
Hi! I’m Melissa Fairchild Clark, not to be confused with the well respected New York Times food writer Melissa Clark, who might not appreciate accidental attribution to my crass verbosity, often run-on sentence structure, and affinity for stringing words together a la Heidegger.
I grew up in pastoral New Jersey (real thing) with a former-chef-mother at the helm. I spent my childhood in the kitchen obsessing over one thing or another, grilled cheese, crab cakes, bruschetta, all with my mother over my shoulder saying “well, at the CIA we would do it this way….”, which, I tell you what, did wonders for my confidence in the kitchen. (shadeeeeee).
I studied Philosophy in college because no one told me that if you weren’t planning on law school, that academic endeavor is essentially useless save for becoming a philosophy professor or a weed delivery girl. After giving corporate fashion and furnishings jobs my best effort, I came to realize that a career path in buying and the corporate culture of New York were simply not what I had hoped for myself. Upon that realization, a fork very abruptly appeared before me: I could stay the course, suck it up, not give my family a reason to whip into a tizzy, and beepin’ HATE myself and the example I had grown to set for my future children forever, or, I could take advantage of the fact that I was 25, had no one to be responsible for but my dog and myself, and follow my bliss no matter whose feathers it ruffled.
So, being my fathers daughter, I found a school in California that offered a Farm-to-Table focus and gave myself a whopping 6 weeks to apply, get my medical clearance, break the news to my friends, give my two weeks notice, pack my life up, close things out at work, get my goddamn cable box and remote back to the fascist regime of Time Warner, say goodbye to my family and friends and the only coast I’d ever called home, and get on a one way flight to SFO with Canis Tobis in tow.
Since attending school, I have worked in farm to table restaurants, with private chefs catering small events, with start ups recipe testing and developing both gluten and grain free paleo friendly savory and sweet items, written for Edible magazines, taught cooking classes to groups and individuals, become a private chef in my own right, and recently catered my first wedding.
When I’m not doing that, I’m hanging out or hiking with my giant dope of a pup, tending to my vegetable garden, driving to somewhere that sounds beautiful, biting off more than I can chew on projects like herb boxes and hanging heavy things on questionably sturdy walls (what’s an “earthquake zone”?), flea and antique market scouring (furnishing habits die hard), or watching a great new indie film, all while nursing a desperate longing for $0.99 slices with a can of coke between friends at 2am before hailing a cab back to Brooklyn because no thank you late-night L-train.
Thanks for the company!
Photograph of moi by nat & cody, photograph of Canis Tobis by moi.