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JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

4040 Central Florida Parkway · Orlando, Florida 32837 USA

  • +1-407-393-4444

Primo

  • +1-407-393-4444

Chef & Staff Profiles

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Melissa Kelly (Owner and Executive Chef)

Melissa Kelly is the executive chef and proprietor of the original Primo in mid-coast Maine. She is the 2013 and 1999 James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northeast. She was also nominated in 1998.


Melissa grew up on Long Island, and her earliest cooking lessons took place in her Italian grandmother's kitchen. In fact, she still favors Mediterranean-accented foods. She attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and graduated first in her class. Her post-graduate education took place in some of the top kitchens in the country.


With a resume that includes the posh Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia; Bluebeards Castle, St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands and An American Place in New York, Melissa has a wealth of experience. To broaden her culinary skills, she moved west to work with Reed Heron of Lulu and the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. “I didn't have a style when I got there,” Melissa says. “By the time I left, I did: simplicity, seasonality, freshness."


Melissa was named one of the upcoming chefs of the 1990s by Food & Wine magazine, Nation's Restaurant News, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Chocolatier and The New York Times. In 2003, she partnered with JW Marriott to open a second Primo at Grande Lakes, serving the Orlando area fine Italian cuisine in a casual, comfortable setting. A third located opened in 2005 at Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona.