Melissa Pelkey-Hass, Chef Instructor

Melissa was born with a whisk in her hand. Over the years, her love for cooking and competition has been carefully crafted into an award-winning obsession. Melissa uses her culinary skills to compete in cooking and recipe competitions locally and nationwide. Her craft has earned over 320 State Fair Blue Ribbons, 160 Red Ribbons and titles.

Awards include, over 320 State Fair Blue Ribbons, 160 Red Ribbons and titles of Spam Grand Champion, Fleishman’s Yeast Baking Champion, Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Winner, KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Recipe Winner, Eagle Condensed Milk Bar Cookie Champion, Kayro Syrup Dessert Recipe Winner, the Lexington Collard Green Queen, the Lexington County Peach Festival Cooking Competition Winner for multiple years, and most recently, Chicago Cutlery’s “The Cut” Sandwich National Grand Champion. She has had over 100 recipes published in national publications such as Taste of Home, Southern Living, Epicures and Healthy Cooking books and magazines. Melissa writes a blog called The Front Porch Gourmet, blending recipes with Southern humor. She likes to share all types of recipes from “New York Classy to Southern and Sassy”. When asked why she feels the need to share her passion for cooking with others. She simply replies, “Because life is too short to eat ugly food.” To learn more about Melissa, visit her blog at