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Executive chef stresses the importance of mentoring

By Staff | May 22, 2019

Melissa Donahue

Sweet Melissa’s Cafe Executive Chef Melissa Donahue presented “Conversations with Melissa – Sweet, Savory and Skillful” and engaged the American Business Women’s Association in a lively discussion at the April luncheon.

Donahue shared the steps to her success as a James Beard Award semifinalist, emphasizing hard work and what she learned from others along the way.

“Women who have built a career are responsible for mentoring younger women coming up,” she said, noting that women are still fighting for equal footing in many professions. “In the culinary industry today, only 20 percent of kitchens are run by women.”

“As a younger woman, be a sponge,” Donahue said. “Ask. Learn. Take advantage of women who want to share knowledge.”

Donahue had the opportunity to build her career in high-profile restaurants, including the Union Square Caf in Manhattan and the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, but never stopped seeking to learn and always brought commitment to the job.

Donahue emphasized that learning can take you out of your comfort zone. She admitted that in order to represent her brand, she had to learn to find her voice as a public speaker.

“Find your passion and work hard for it,” Donahue said. “If you’re not growing, why do it?”