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Market Watch: Shopping the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market with Frances' Melissa Perello

Chef Melissa Perello of Frances has been a fixture at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for many years. Even when this well-known Bay Area chef was between restaurants, she still made it down regularly to see her favorite farmers, scope out the produce, and check in with fellow chefs. Now that Melissa is behind the helm at Frances, her much lauded restaurant that opened last December, she can once again be found at the market every week pushing her chef cart through the crowds, tasting, smelling and sampling for her menu of new American classics.

Melissa says she was a “freakishly goal-oriented child,” obsessed with PBS cooking shows and who knew at a very young age that she wanted to go to culinary school. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Melissa cooked at Aqua and Charles Nob Hill, where she was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the best new chefs. When she took over the reigns at Fifth Floor she earned the restaurant its first Michelin star. While there, she also worked with chefs Jake Des Voignes, Charlie Kleinman and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, who describes Melissa as one of the most influential chefs he’s ever worked with. Farr also credits her with encouraging him to develop relationships with the small farmers and local artisans that come to the Ferry Plaza market each week.

While making her rounds this week, Melissa picked up some peaches from Tory Farms to use in an herb-stuffed Guinea hen dish with corn, chanterelle mushrooms and polenta from Ridgecut Gristmills. She also picked up dried chiles from Tierra Vegetables for a chile butter to go on grilled corn cobbettes, and a fresh goat cheese from Andante Dairy that she would combine with leeks and mushrooms for the crepe cannelloni dish on her current menu.

Here’s a look at some of the other items Melissa was shopping for this week:
 
    •    Bi-color corn from G & S Farms
    •    Artic Rose Nectarines from Tory Farms
    •    Blackberries from Yerena Farms
    •    Dried Chihuacle Chiles from Tierra Farms
    •    Italian butter beans from Iacopi Farms