I met Battman some time in late November, I think. He’s one of the most recognized food photographers in NYC. You may even know some of his non-foodie work on the ever popular New York City Fireman Calendar. He’s worked with many amazing chefs on various projects and features his work on The Chefs Connection, sort of like a Facebook for chefs. He was kind enough to bring me on some assignments with him, as well as introduce me to some great people. Keep reading to find out a bit more on Genevieve Meli, a New York City pastry chef.
Genevieve Meli never had that “aha!” moment that told her she wanted to be a pastry chef. It was simply something that was rooted in her core, written as if it were a part of her genetic code. “I was just born into it…I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.” I had the chance to sit down with Meli recently at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, where she is the Executive Pastry Chef. We laughed about life & times at The Culinary Institute of America and living in the Hudson Valley, and she let me into her personal life a little bit. She walked me through the journey of how she started, where she’s worked, some culinary struggles here and there, and a few other moments all-leading up to today’s time; a time where she has her own staff at a successful New York City restaurant, a time in which her first cook book, Sweet Nature, is about to launch, a time in which Meli’s career is only beginning to bloom, and she is unstoppable.
Meli knew from a young age that she wanted to be a pastry chef. “I want to be an artist!” is what she told her parents. When they challenged her with the whole “starving artist” bit, she told them she was going to be a pastry chef, and the rest is history, as they say. Although her history is sprinkled with some culinary giants, including Karen DeMasco, Gavin Kaysen, and Jacques Torres, just to name a few, Meli remains incredibly humble. “I just want to create and have a good time doing it!” she stated with so much happiness. Meli’s passion and energy was contagious, and I enjoyed scribbling down her thoughts. At one point during our chat I remember her leaning over and ask “What are you writing over there? I hope you got something good, I’m kind of boring, ”she said, as she tried to peak at my notes. However, I found her to be anything but boring. Meli is incredibly focused and driven, but very calm and easy to talk to. She’s partial to a “very zen kitchen,” no nonsense. Her kitchen is her sanctuary, a sacred place in which she and her staff create edible art. While she’s perfectly content with where she is now, Meli aspires to own her own little chocolate shop somewhere in the Hudson Valley in the future. Until then, stop by Il Buco and try on of her sweet creations!