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Meet our Corporate Chefs


Ida Rodriguez

Chef Ida Rodriguez has always had a passion for great food. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Ida would spend every minute she could in her mother and grandmother’s kitchens. “In those days, everything was made from scratch. Tortillas, mole, pasole, everything! We never went out to dinner; I was just amazed that they could make everything and make it taste so good!” Her developing passion for food was heightened during her many years living in Europe. She took every opportunity to learn as much as she could by taking cooking classes, meeting chefs and exploring the many different cuisines Europe had to offer.

Upon moving to the U.S., Ida had a tremendous wealth of knowledge about European food and culinary traditions that she couldn’t wait to show off her knowledge. However, doing that was easier said than done; “I was so disappointed to find that I couldn’t find the same ingredients here in the United States. You take for granted the quality of olive oil, provisions, mushrooms, and fresh vegetables available in Europe. Most of my time was spent locating substitutes. That’s one of the many reasons why I love working at Melissa’s, we help find these flavors.”

Once joining Melissa’s, she was able to bring every skill that she had gained to the table.

At least once a year, Chef Ida takes a trip abroad to continue her culinary education and expand her vast culinary and life experiences. Besides healthy cooking, Chef Ida likes to spend her time making crafts, traveling, and digitally scrapbook her adventures.

Contact Chef Ida at hotline@melissas.com.


Tom Fraker

From a very young age Chef Tom has appreciated good food and the art of cooking. “My earliest memories are of cooking with my mom when I was 5 or 6 years old. She taught me well throughout the years to come. I told her ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be a chef.’ So, naturally I went into construction. Go figure.”

For seventeen years, Chef Tom rose up the ranks to become construction superintendent. “It was actually the events of 9/11 that changed my thinking and priorities, and I decided then and there, that very day, to go another path.” Supported by his wife and family, Chef Tom resigned his position in construction and enrolled at The California School of Culinary Arts - Le Cordon Bleu, to follow his original dream of becoming a chef. Before finishing his studies at Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Tom joined Melissa’s as a Corporate Chef.

Since joining Melissa’s, Chef Tom has worked his way up to now manage the Melissa’s Corporate kitchen. It is there that he works on the research and development of new and existing products, designing and testing recipes, and writing website recipes. In addition, as a Melissa’s representative, he also attends and participates in charity events throughout the year and he attends trade shows and special events throughout the country. Chef Tom uses his creative culinary talents to create new and innovative recipes utilizing Melissa’s unique fruits and vegetables.

Outside of the office, Chef Tom loves cooking Italian food, is as an avid sports fan, and a devoted father, who splits his time catering, playing with his kids, and attending his kids games.

Contact Chef Tom at hotline@melissas.com


Marco Zapien

Chef Marco grew up relishing his mother and grandmother’s Mexican food. After deciding to pursue a career in the food industry, he graduated with honors from The Los Angeles Culinary Institute in 1997. Chef Marco began his professional culinary career as a prep cook and quickly got into the sports and entertainment industry, working in stadiums and arenas all over the country. After finding success and getting a deep understanding of venue food service, Chef Marco decided to leave behind the sports industry and join his father in their family operated restaurant, Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria.

Besides running the restaurant and his catering company, Chef Marco is the Corporate Chef in charge of Sports & Entertainment venues at Melissa’s. His daily duties include acting as a liaison to Executive Chefs in sports and entertainment venues as well as the Melissa’s staff. Chef Marco makes sure that the quality and service that Melissa’s provides them with is nothing less than perfect.

Chef Marco has a deep affinity towards his Hispanic roots. It is clearly represented in Marco’s imaginative dishes, which cross over into many different styles of cooking. When he has the spare time, Chef Marco also enjoys playing golf.

Contact Chef Marco at hotline@melissas.com


Miki Hackney

Chef Miki has always enjoyed food and cooking, ever since she was a child baking treats from her Easy-Bake Oven. Sharing her treats with family and friends, she realized early on the deeper social interaction that happened with food.

After a successful business career, Chef Miki decided to shift gears and pursue a formal culinary education. While attending California School of Culinary Arts – Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Miki began her culinary career as a prep chef in Southern California restaurants and entertainment venues prior to joining the Melissa’ s Team.

Chef Miki creates and tests new recipes, as well as works on special culinary assignments for Melissa’s Food Service Team and Melissa’s national sales. Her affable nature and passion for cooking shines when representing Melissa’s at local and out-of-state trade shows and expos. She enjoys educating children and adults about increasing the consumption of produce while providing helpful tips and suggestions.

An active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Chef Miki is constantly exploring all ethnic cuisines and loves to travel. She feels most at home in the kitchen, preparing comfort food meals and baking, although she has retired her Easy-Bake Oven.

Contact Chef Miki at hotline@melissas.com


Andrew Faulkner

Chef Andrew has always had a passion for food and cooking. Even as a youth, he began having success catering small parties in high school. “It was fun, the money was okay; I did it because it was fun.” Chef Andrew explains. After having nearly instant success, Chef Andrew decided that to pursue a culinary degree at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. After graduation, Chef Andrew then interned at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California. After his successful internship experience at the Ritz Carlton, Chef Andrew moved on to work at such acclaimed hotels as the Four Seasons Hotel and JW Marriott. Chef Andrew decided to join Melissa’s in their emerging corporate test kitchen. “It was a new concept to have a test kitchen at a produce company, and we were finding anyway that we could to justify our being there.” said Chef Andrew. The results were miraculous in associate retention and understanding of products and the culinary possibilities.

In addition to all of the testing and product development, Chef Andrew, as well as handful of others, help build Melissas.com’s first recipe library. “We accomplished a lot, in a very short amount of time,” says Chef Andrew while looking back in his time in the kitchen at Melissa’s.

Currently, Chef Andrew is Corporate Chef / Consultant Liaison, for Melissa’s Food Service. “It is something special when a chef calls us to place an order and is speaking with another Chef.” explains Chef Andrew. In addition, Chef Andrew participates in various culinary and food service industry events as an ambassador for Melissa’s.

When not sharing his knowledge with other chefs, Chef Andrew is bit of a thrill seeker, enjoying active extreme sports, such dirt bike riding and jet skiing. He also enjoys traveling.

Contact Chef Andrew at hotline@melissas.com