"I’m always very cautious of the financial model and making sure that if and when it does happen it can be a sustainable concept," Melissa told BravoTV.com exclusively. "I want to make sure that it’s done in the right place as well."
"I’m taking, you know, cautious steps on when this will happen," she continued. "But it’s certainly a goal of mine and always has been since I was young: to have a restaurant, have a place for people to actually try my food outside of, like, a virtual cooking class. I would absolutely love to continue expanding ways for people to have access to my food."
As Melissa is continuing to work on expanding her current culinary projects, she noted that her businesses may look a bit different during, and after, the COVID-19 outbreak. "I have started a company that focuses in culinary partnerships and a lot of brand collaborations. And so I hope to continue doing that, perhaps more in the virtual world and creating virtual experiences for people to enjoy," she said. "It’s also evolved into virtual cooking classes. I do think I will continue doing that, even after quarantine and COVID-19."
One piece of her business seeing great success at the moment is her sauce brand. "I had several hundred units that sold out in 25 minutes," she said. "It’s all hand crafted and made, hand labeled and hand packed and shipped by me. I’m just very involved in the entire process of the small batch run. I’d like to get it on a larger scale so that we can get it in everybody’s homes."
"I really want to focus on the sauce lines and product lines," she continued. "To be able to bring sauces to people to elevate their food to the next level."
In addition to expanding her sauce line and exploring "potential restaurant opportunities," Melissa has a variety of exciting goals she is setting out to accomplish in the near future, including the possibility of a cookbook. "I’ve been chatting here and there with a book agent," she said. "I think just continuing to create because that’s what I love to do. I hope I can continue creating and bringing my food to people."
As seen in her four-course finale meal, Melissa's food often represents a combination of different cultural influences. "I think it’s always a risk to fuse any culture together, whether it’s Chinese and Italian or Mexican and French, or something like that. So I think there’s always gonna be that challenge of maintaining authenticity and not hybrid-ing things so much to where you can’t recognize it anymore," Melissa said of her winning meal. "But I do feel my strength of being able to do that, being able to bridge these cultures together and highlight it in a very tasteful way where it still stays true to what it is but makes it just a little more interesting. And so, I really tried to hone in on that side of my cooking style and do that throughout the finale."
-Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld
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