Melissa Gaman

Recipe Developer

What do you do on a daily basis (job description)?
As a recipe developer in Food Network Kitchen I spend most of my days cooking and eating. There is also researching, writing and editing recipes to make sure whatever deliciousness we taste is captured in easy-to-follow directions for our audience.

Who is your culinary icon?
I was lucky to grow up in a household full of cookbooks and food magazines, and I often bonded with my mom and sisters by making an old family recipe or reading magazines together and discovering new ideas. It was this curiosity that led me into food media as a career. I have several icons that I look to for inspiration, recipe troubleshooting and entertainment, including Julia Child and Ruth Reichl. And my mom — she will always be an icon to me.

Who is your favorite food TV personality, past or present?
I loved, loved, loved to watch Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook), Justin Wilson, Julia Child and Jacques Pépin on television when I was young. They were all fascinating, as they both taught and entertained at the same time. More recently, I love to watch Nigella Lawson and her unique way of being deliciously imperfect. 

What’s your favorite cookbook?
That is a tricky one to answer because my bookshelves are constantly overflowing as I tweak my collection, bringing in new books and sharing others with friends and family.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
Scallops. I’m allergic.

What’s your favorite condiment?
Probably a tossup between mustard and hot sauce. I love all versions of both!

What’s the first dish you learned to make?
It’s pretty hard to remember, but I’d bet it was my family’s shortbread cookies. We made dozens and dozens every year for Christmas from a ridiculously easy and short recipe that my mother grew up making with my grandmother every year.

Sweet tooth, salty tooth or both?
Sweet. I think I keep my dentist in business with my love of chewy gummy candies.

What kitchen tool can’t you live without?
A good wooden spoon, perfect for making just about anything from cookie dough to stews. I also think they look better with age as they collect those little burn marks from getting a little too close to the fire.

What music do you like to listen to in the kitchen?
I actually don’t listen to music. I like the quiet of the kitchen and listening to the sizzles and pops from my stove.

What’s your favorite food scene from a movie?
Probably the scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory where they enter his candy wonderland. The awe of seeing the edible landscape for the first time never really left me. Often I think to this day that my job is just like that movie: making the impossible possible. And tasty.

What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?
I’m an equal opportunity drinker who has recently come to appreciate spirits more and more (oh, Manhattans, where have you been all my life?). But if I could only choose one drink, it would be a perfectly chilled glass of dry white wine.

If you weren’t in food, what career would you have liked to have tried?
I did try other careers, so I can safely say that if I hadn’t moved into food I would have stayed in book publishing. I love to read!

What’s your favorite “food city” to visit?
Paris. I don’t care if it’s cliché; it’s delicious.