You know the feeling—You trust your gut & go where your intuition leads you to find (or pave) the way to your dreams … that’s how I cook.

Ciao Bella,

And I’ve spent the last 15 years building a career centered on delicious food and healthy living. I believe that you can actually cook your way to the body that becomes a vessel for your healthiest self & happiest life. 

You may know me from Food Network where I shared my talents as a chef with millions of viewers—but I also spent years cooking for the biggest Hollywood studio heads, A-list celebrities, Billionaires, and Oscar winners.

I've been married to my hunky South African husband Saul for 20 years. Together we’ve surfed the oceans of the world. But our greatest adventure is raising our magnificent daughter Jade… a true blessing from God. Being her mom is the best job on the planet. 

We love to travel, and eat our way through every country—the spices, flavors and dishes of every place we visit influence my style of cooking.


When I’m not in Italy (or sometimes even when I am) you can find me around … 

The kitchen is the heart of my home. I love the sizzle of a good steak, the smell of garlic and rosemary perfuming the air. I love warm crusty bread with velvety olive oil, bold red wine, rich dark chocolate, and espresso(ssss) so strong you can spit a hole in the sidewalk. Basically, I love to eat! 

You can find me chopping, sautéing, grilling, roasting, and prepping—covered in flour, stretching, and rolling my pasta dough. Crushing tomatoes between my hands and doctoring the sauce with fresh herbs from my garden while Andrea Bocelli plays in the background. 

xoxo, Melissa

My front door is always open, and my home is full of friends and good food. 

The Story of Susina Cucina

Years ago, I banished “no” and “can’t” from my vocabulary—I held fast to my dream of retiring to Italy, and for more than a decade I sent daily energy to my vision.

Magic happens when you believe in your dreams

Learn about retreats at Susina Cucina

I pictured a light-filled farmhouse, the rolling green hills of Tuscany, and fields dotted with sunflowers. Then, I found the perfect home in Lucca! Before my mom passed she asked me to plant a plum tree so she could watch me from the branches.

The first summer at my home in Italy, I discovered an established, thriving plum tree growing by the pool! I took it as a sign my mom was close by and, in that instant, I decided to build a cooking school so I could share this special place with others. 

Susina Cucina (literally translated: “Plum Kitchen”) was born so I could teach you to cook and enjoy La Dolce Vita, the same way she taught me. All along, somehow I knew she'd cook with us under the Tuscan sun.

Cook your way to your dream body and life.

Longevity and a fulfilled, joyful life is the end goal. By cooking meals using fresh seasonal ingredients and spices, you control what you put in your body. 
Like my Italian friends, I believe food should be savored and enjoyed—I don't count calories or even own a scale. It's time to give up diets that restrict entire food groups. 

My mission is to transform you into an intuitive chef by helping you master cooking basics so you feel fit and energized. 
The secret ingredient in every recipe is YOU! The love or “amore” you put into it each dish is the best way to show friends and family you care. 


“We wouldn't be more thrilled with the services Vodka Soda provided. Their aesthetic is unmistakable and on point.” — Liam

Grab your apron... Let's cook it off!

Ready to channel Sophia Loren in your own kitchen? Get started with an easy-to-follow (and fun) virtual cooking class. Learn how to make healthy and, delicious meals your body will love!

Is Italy on your bucket list? Join me in my kitchen for an intimate, in-person workshop that will teach you the secrets of La Dolce Vita … and provide some much needed rest & relaxation!

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An Aperol Spritz!

Man's Search For Meaning

Pistachio Gelato



Andrea Bocelli!

Family — they make every day better! Being a mom to Jady Lady and wife to Saul is the most epic job on the planet...

My yoga practice - throwing down my mat and flowing keeps me sane.

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My Favorite Things

My Happy Place!

Being in my kitchen. A good round of dough therapy is medicine for my soul.

My Favorite Things

Traveling — especially to sunny places with beautiful beaches and delicous food!

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The ocean! It calms and heals me. Swimming and surfing keep me in the now. From the silence all my best ideas manifest into form.

My Guilty Pleasure

Italian espressso (ssss). I drink waaaayy too many but hey, life's too short for bad coffee.

This     That







PC + Phone




night owl


Bring the Sink



Where I stand on the super important stuff... Agree / disagree? 







Healthy living is beautiful … That’s why it’s calledLa Dolce Vita”.


I’m sharing my best recipes, travel guides, and Italian secrets for longevity & aging gracefully. Discover my tips and tricks to become a Rockstar chef, my current obsessions, and tools to embrace joy, find your purpose, and live deliciously!!


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