CBS News June 1, 2019, 8:01 AM The Dish: Chef Melissa Perello reveals her signature recipes

Across the U.S., only ten women chefs have been awarded a Michelin star. And Melissa Perello is one of them.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Houston, she showed an early interest in the kitchen: at age 12 her mother came home to find her de-boning a leg of lamb.

She got her first kitchen job in high school, went on to the Culinary Institute of America, and then to San Francisco, where she opened "Frances' and later "Octavia."

Both earned prestigious Michelin stars, an honor "Octavia" still holds.

Now she's heading south to Los Angeles: her "M. Georgina" opens this summer at "Row DTLA," the hot new retail and dining project in the city's downtown.

Here are some of Perello's signature recipes:

Tomato & Stone Fruit Panzanella, Burrata, Blissed Sweet Peppers & Genovese Basil


4 each ripe heirloom tomatoes (washed, cored and cut into bite-sized wedges)
1 each ripe "free-stone" golden peach (washed, cored and cut into bite-sized wedges)
1 each semi-firm plum or apricots (washed, cored and cut into bite-sized wedges)
6 each red jimmy nardello peppers or Italian frying peppers (washed) 
* you can substitute pretty much any sweet red pepper
1 small bunch sweet/tender Genovese basil or opal basil (washed and picked, reserve the stems)
1 large handful tender sweet market greens like chrysanthemum or mizuna
1 each 8 ounce ball of fresh burrata (cut or torn into small chunks)
1 each lemon (zested and juiced)
2 Tbsp Lemon Agrumato (or lemon-infused olive oil)
1/2 baguette or 1/4 loaf of small country bread
salt and black pepper to taste
EVOO to dress


Using a hot grill if possible or a gas burner flame, lightly blister the peppers until you see slight "freckles" of char and the skins begins to blister and bubble. Place the peppers in a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap to steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cool and softened, remove the stems and seeds from the peppers. Reserve two of the peppers for the vinaigrette and the remaining four peppers cut into 1.5" pieces, toss with olive oil salt and pepper and reserve.

Place the remaining two peppers in a blender along with the lemon juice and a large pinch of salt. Blend to a paste and then slowly drizzle in the 2 Tbsp of lemon agrumato as well as 2 Tbsp EVOO. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and lemon juice as necessary. Reserve to dress the salad.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut or tear the bread into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, toss the bread with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and the reserved basil stems. Using your hands, massage the oil and seasoning into the bread and breaking up the basil stems. Lay the seasoned bread along with basil stems onto a baking tray and cook in the oven until golden brown and crisp; you will need to stir up the bread every 5 minutes or so. Toss these into a large mixing bowl to cool to room temp.

Lay the wedges of tomato and stone fruits out on your cutting board and season each piece with salt and pepper. Place half of this fruit into the mixing bowl along with the bread. Add the basil, remaining peppers, lemon zest and greens. Drizzle with half of the blended vinaigrette and toss to coat everything well and allow everything to soak into the crispy bread. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and arrange this mixture onto your serving plate, alternating with chunks of burrata and fresh slices of the fruit and tomatoes.

Finish the dish with an additional drizzle of the blended vinaigrette and serve.

Spinach Salad, Grilled Asparagus, Burnt Shallot, Lemon & Miso Vinaigrette


2 bunches Spinach (picked and washed, dried gently so as to not bruise the leaves)
1 large handful of tender sweet market greens like chrysanthemum or mizuna (washed)
1 bunch asparagus (bases snapped)
2 each shallots (peeled)
1 qt canola oil to fry
1.5 Tbsp AP flour
3 Tbsp red miso
2 each Meyer lemons (zested and juiced)
Salt & pepper to taste


In a tall pot, heat the 1.5 qt of oil to 325 degrees. Use a narrow enough pot that will allow a depth of at least 3" oil and allow at least 5 to 6 inches' pot height above the oil level; this will be safest to prevent oil from boiling over.

Prepare a sheet pan lined with paper towels and have a skimmer or spatula ready to use to pull the shallots out of the oil.

Shave the peeled shallots using a Japanese mandolin into thin, evenly sliced pieces. Sift the AP flour over the shallots and toss to evenly coat. When the oil has reached 325, gently drop the shallots into the oil and gently shake the pot to disperse the shallots and move them around to cook evenly. Keep an eye out for the shallots to begin to take on color and when they become golden, they will darken quickly — so keep a close eye out. Once the shallots have cooked to an even deep golden color, scoop them out quickly and spread on the towel-lined sheet pan. Immediately season with salt and reserve.

Place the miso in a blender with the lemon juice and 1 Tbsp water and blend into a smooth paste and drizzle in enough EVOO to taste until the salt level of the miso is tempered. Add additional water or lemon juice if necessary.

Heat the grill and roll the asparagus on the grill until charred lightly, blistered, and cooked to bright green color. Pull the asparagus from the grill and dress with EVOO and salt; cool and reserve. Split the asparagus lengthwise and then cut into 2" sections.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach and greens along with the asparagus and half of the vinaigrette. Toss gently, tastes and adjust seasoning or add more dressing. Arrange on your serving plate and garnish with the crispy shallots.

Lumberjack Cake


1 cup pitted dates
1 cup water
1 tsp baking soda

Bring water and dates to a boil then whisk in baking soda. Set aside to cool to room temp.

1 ¼ cup AP flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

4.5oz soft butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 each egg
1tsp vanilla extract

1 each pear or apple, peeled and medium dice
50g coconut flakes


Mix dried ingredients and sift; set aside. Then cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg. Slowly add room temperature date mixture until incorporated. Then add dried ingredients slowly until blended; be careful not to overmix. Fold in coconut and pears with large rubber spatula. Pour mixture into greased spring form pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Rotate pan in oven and then continue to bake in 10-minute increments until done.

Koji Marinated Skirt Steak, Charred Early Girl Tomatoes, Eggplant and Urfa Chile


12 to 16 oz skirt steak
3 Tbsp Koji Rice (Koji Rice is rice that has been inoculated and is used to make cultured foods like Miso. Other rice cannot be substituted, however the koji rice can be eliminated from this recipe)

1 each Chinese or Japanese eggplant
4 each small early girl tomatoes or other small red tomato
1 small red Fresno chile
1 cup Crème Fraîche or sour cream
1/2 Tbsp Urfa Biber (this is a dried Turkish chile, also called Isot, that has a dark burgundy color and an almost sweet-sour flavor) *you can substitute a more common chile if you can't find the Urfa just add to taste
1/2 lemon juiced
Salt and pepper to taste


In a small spice grinder or blender, grind the rice into a very fine powder. Season the skirt steak with this rice powder to fully coat the exterior and then re-wrap the steak and hold it in the fridge until you are ready to prepare the steak. (This can be done a day in advance if you have time)

Slice the eggplant into 1" thick coins and season generously with salt. Lay the eggplant out on towels for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Heat a large skillet with a generous amount of olive oil and lightly fry the eggplant on each side until light golden brown. Lay the cooked eggplant out on a tray until you are ready to grill.

Core the tomatoes and split them in half length-wise; season with salt & pepper and reserve.

Carefully seed the Fresno chile and slice very thin. Taste the chile for heat level to determine how much chile you wish to use. Sauté the Fresno chile quickly in EVOO and reserve in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the Crème Fraîche and the urfa chile in a mixing bowl and season with salt and reserve.

When you are ready to cook the steak, heat your grill (charcoal is ideal, but gas will work just fine) and pull your steak from the fridge to temper while the grill heats up. Cut the skirt steak up into three or four pieces, each about 3 to 3.5" wide, and season your steaks with salt and pepper. When the grill is hot and ready, place the steaks on the grill. Grill the first side for 2 to three minutes and once it begins to char, flip it over to the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then continue flipping the steaks for an additional minute on each side and then remove the steaks; rest on a plate or cutting board.

Add the tomatoes to the hottest side of the grill, cut-side down. Let them rest without moving them until they achieve a nice dark char and release easily from the grill. You can flip them to the other side to cook for another minute or two. While the tomatoes are cooking, you can add the eggplant slices to the other side of the grill and give them a nice sear on the grill to finish cooking.

Once the tomatoes and eggplant are cooked, remove them to the same mixing bowl containing the sliced Fresno chiles. Add the lemon juice and a good slug of EVOO, toss and adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.

To serve, slice the steak into 1/4" slices. Lay the tomatoes and eggplant on the base of the plate and spoon the Crème Fraîche mixture and layer the slices of skirt steak over the top.

Tagliatelle with Spring Peas & Parmesan Crema


5 bundles of dried tagliatelle pasta, 5 to 6 ounces

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup English peas (shelled and blanched or you can substitute defrosted frozen peas)
1 cup snap peas (stemmed and thinly sliced)

2 ounces slab bacon
Whole Parmesan to grate

1/4 loaf baguette
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
Handful of pea tendrils (washed & picked into separate leaves; you can substitute baby spinach)
2 Tbsp salted butter
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
EVOO as needed


Preheat the oven to 350. Cut or tear the bread into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, toss the bread with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and 3 sprigs fresh thyme. Use your hands to massage the oil and seasoning into the bread and break up the thyme stems. Lay the seasoned bread along with thyme onto a baking tray and cook in the oven until golden brown and crisp; you will need to stir up the bread every 5 minutes or so. Toss these into a large mixing bowl to cool to room temp. Once cool, break the crisp bread up into small bread crumbs, either using the bottom of a jar or flat surface or you can grind them in a food processor. Try not to grind the breadcrumbs too fine, ideally they will remain coarse for texture; reserve.

In a small saucepot, heat the cream and milk together just until simmer. Pour this hot mixture into a blender and carefully blend in the 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 5 turns of freshly grated black pepper. Reserve this mixture in a warm location until you are ready to finish your pasta. (It is ideal to prepare this just before you make the pasta, but can be refrigerated and reheated if necessary)

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a tall pot. Dice the bacon into 1/2" cubes and blanch in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon or sieve and place on a plate with paper towels. Reserve this pot of boiling water to cook the pasta, add additional water and salt to taste if necessary. Make sure your peas and snap peas are room temperature; if not, give them a quick dip in the bacon water and reserve.

Heat a large sauté pan with 1 Tbsp EVOO and then add the blanched bacon, the remaining sprig of thyme and the crushed garlic. Stir until the bacon and the garlic become golden.
While this is happening, add the pasta to the boiling (bacon) water and cook per the time indicated on the packages instructions for "al dente." Once the pasta has achieved an "al dente" texture, remove the pasta from the cooking water using a sieve or a pasta spoon, but do not dump the pasta water. Transfer the cooked pasta directly to the hot pan with the bacon, and add 1 cup of the pasta cooking water as well as the warm peas. Over high heat, continue stirring the pasta until the remaining water has cooked into the pasta. Taste the pasta for texture and seasoning. If the pasta is still too firm or not cooked enough for your liking, add another 1/2 cup of the remaining pasta liquid and cook this down until the liquid has cooked into the pasta once again.

Then add the butter and 1/2 of the reserved Parmesan cream and stir while cooking until the pasta is coated well and the butter is melted and emulsified. Add the pea tendrils or greens and an additional drizzle of the Parmesan cream, as necessary, and stir until the greens are just wilted. Remove the sprig of thyme and add the lemon zest and juice and transfer the pasta to your serving plate or individual plates. Finish with the crunchy breadcrumbs before serving.

Preserved Meyer Lemon Tart


1.5 each Gold Gelatin sheet
5 eggs
1.25 cups white sugar
3/4c + 2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1/4c Eureka lemon juice
1.5 ea whole preserved Meyer lemons, rinsed and dried
14 oz (3.5 sticks) butter, 70F


Bloom gelatin in ice water for five minutes. Squeeze excess water out and set aside. In a medium stainless steel pot and using an immersion blender, buzz together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and preserved lemon while bringing to a boil over medium high heat. Once curd has come to a boil and thickened (pudding thickness), pull the pot off the heat, let cool for 10 minutes; add the gelatin sheet. Let mixture cool to 135 – 140F, then begin buzzing in butter a few pieces at a time. Pass mixture through a chinois and cool in ice bath with piece of plastic pressed directly on the surface of the curd. Transfer to fridge and chill overnight.