Hi, I’m Monte Melugin, executive chef, food writer, consultant, artist, and creator of GrubAmericana, a website designed exclusively around American born foods–their history, legends, and availability. We’ll also provide some related recipes you can easily make in your own kitchen.
My first memories of cooking began at a very early age with my mother–one of eight children born into a humble Southeastern Oklahoma farm family–teaching me how to make some of my favorite childhood foods. From the time I was in the fifth grade, I was whipping up my own breakfasts–oatmeal, pan fried bacon or patty sausage, eggs, and skillet toast. Over the next several years, my interest in cooking continued as I mastered a number of my mentor’s more “exotic” dishes–old-fashion southern cornbread, salmon croquettes, Thanksgiving dressing, and even an occasional cookie, cake or pie–some with admittedly better success than others.
I remember the first “scratch” cake I ever made–spice marble layer cake. The layers came out like giant cookies, so incredibly rock hard that they actually bent the knife I used trying to cut a slice. If that weren’t enough, I had decided to color the layers some horrible green color (which I thought would look nice with the brown spice mixture swirled through them), with an equally disgusting green icing, making it about the most unappetizing dish I’ve ever created. Being totally embarrassed by the experience, I wanted, of course, to throw it away, but my childhood friend and next door neighbor said it tasted good, so he took it home instead. Several times over the next few days he could be seen outside munching on a chunk of my culinary failure.
My first experience in a commercial kitchen (if it could be described as such) was at the age of twelve, when I went to work as a “soda jerk” in a drug/hardware store in Haltom City, Texas. After only a few weeks, one of the brothers I worked for decided to try me out as the store’s official short-order cook.
Out of that kitchen (not much larger than a broom closet), I set out on a culinary adventure that has extended well over thirty years and taken me all across this great country working in facilities both small and large. During those years, I’ve held almost every food related job imaginable–dishwasher to line cook, working chef to corporate executive chef, restaurant manager to food service director–in just about every venue in the food industry–fast food, casual dining, hotel dining, banquets, catering, contract feeding, and senior living.
While designing and cooking tasty dishes are my passion, I’ve always enjoyed writing about foods and have been fascinated by their histories. GrubAmericana provides me the opportunity to bring all of those interests together. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this site as much as I’ll enjoy creating it.