Sweet Melissa’s Cafe, Sanibel

Chef Talmage shares her path to Sweet Melissa’s Café.

A family that didn’t cook, a detour from law school, the September 11 crisis, Hurricane Katrina, and an untimely death: One might say that a series of curious events – perhaps even inescapable fate – landed Melissa Talmage in a restaurant on Sanibel that bears her name and has been called the island’s best.

“I didn’t come from one of those families that cooks all the time, and so

Sweet Melissa's fish stew extraordinaire

that’s how you learn to cook,” Talmage, chef at Sweet Melissa’s Café, told me recently during a short but rare break from the kitchen.

Instead, she came from one of those families that eats out all the time, so that’s how she learned a love of restaurants. Read more of this post