Skip to main content


Subpage Hero


Melissa "Chef Mel" Cottingham

Chef, Private Chef and Caterer

Enthusiastic about cultural cuisines, Chef Mel believes that the best way to learn about a culture is to join them in their kitchen. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee she began cooking alongside her mother at the age of twelve, but recently unlocked that young passion and made it a career. She is currently a private chef and owner of a pop up restaurant called Melnificent Wingz. Chef Mel has been featured in numerous publications including Complex Magazine, Infatuation LA, and Yelp. She has also been featured on ABC's Supermarket Sweep, Spectrum 1 News, Tastemade's Frankie vs The Internet, & Food Network's first vegan competition show, "It's CompliPlated." She has graced the palates of some of your favorite entertainers including: Tracee Ellis Ross, Marsai Martin, Larenz Tate, Kym Whitley, Jonathan McReynolds, Jenifer Lewis, Anthony Anderson, KevOnStage and many more. Her brand partnerships include McDonald's, One Hope Wine, and Extraordinary Families Foster & Youth Agency. She has also showcased her talents live at the 2022 KJLH Womens Health Expo & Western Food Service & Hospitality Expo. With a smile and personality that can't help but charm you, Chef Mel's unorthodox, soulful and memorable southern fusion dishes will give you a hug from the inside out.

After finding her late mothers cookbooks and hand-written recipes, Chef Mel knew that she had to get back to her first love, so she took a closer look at pursuing her passion for cooking. Dedicated to learning everything about her craft, in spring of 2015, while still working in production, she enrolled in night culinary classes at The New School of Cooking. While there, Chef was selected to lead her classmates for the graduation lunch; she assisted various chefs with their demos, and her photo is still used in promotional materials for the annual Women's Chef & Restaurateur event hosted by the school.

When she's not at a culinary event or testing cultural spices, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering her time to mentor youth at the Extraordinary Families Foster Care & Adoption Foundation, and finding the best chicken wing places worldwide. With a smile and personality that can't help but charm you, her courageous story of triumph, strength, and love is the drive behind her passion for cooking. Her greatest pleasure will always be bringing people together around over comfort food.










Introducing the California restaurant show