Chef Melissa Perello and Robert Wright Wed in Culinary Style
Chef Melissa Perello unexpectedly discovered romance at her own San Francisco restaurant, Frances, when she and Robert Wright, director of operations, fell in love as they worked alongside each other. Here, Perello walks us through the couple’s big day.
Two years into opening our second restaurant, Octavia, after Robert and I had been engaged for almost three years, we finally found some normalcy in our lives and decided it was time to start planning our wedding.
The Mendocino Coast has always been our getaway whenever we feel like we need to check out of “city life,” so we chose Cuffey’s Cove Ranch, with its acres of meadows and forests, as our location. I grew up camping, and it’s always been something we enjoyed doing together, so I called on Shelter Co., which produces glamping-style events.
The food was important to us, because it was the perfect opportunity to show all our friends and family just how proud we are of our two restaurants and our teams. The September event date meant we could rely on the Indian summer to hang on to most of the summer produce as the season transitioned. Our friend Erin Cochran—whose Crow and Oak Farm grew a good chunk of the produce for our wedding—helped orchestrate the catering for the weekend.
One of my best friends, Rebekah Northway, florist for both of our restaurants, produced the florals and the driftwood altar that framed our ceremony at the top of the bluff, while our friends at Elsie Green helped design the tablescape, set with custom plates by our friend Sarah Kersten, who embellished each piece with our wedding logo on the bottom, as a party favor for guests. Our kitchen teams from both Frances and Octavia collaborated on the family-style meal, including smoked potato salad served with filet bean, sungold tomato, Meyer lemon and summer herbs; grilled pork belly with baby bok choy and sesame; and Don Watson’s lamb, coal-roasted with three sauces.
The decadent cakes, made by our pastry chef, Sarah Bonar, were just stunning and delicious to boot, including my favorite: a spiced hazelnut cake with honey, late-summer berries and mission figs.
There was no shortage of libations: Claire Sprouse from Lo-Fi Aperitifs brought Nicolas Torres, the bar director at Lazy Bear and True Laurel in San Francisco, with her to create post-dinner cocktails, such as the Mendocino Manhattan, featuring stone-fruit-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth, dried orange and cinnamon. And thanks to our sommelier, Josh Thomas, there was an amazing selection of wines flowing freely for the entire weekend, with an endless supply of my favorite prosecco, Le Vigne di Alice Doro Nature.
The day went by quickly, and before we knew it we were snuggled up next to a fire and enjoying the moonlight. I was so tired I fell asleep in my wedding dress (along with my Patagonia down jacket). When I woke early in the morning, I snuck up the hill to the ceremony structure to catch the sunrise. I wanted to enjoy the fleeting moments we had left at this amazing location. The beautiful view, our friends and family all here to share this celebration with us—I wanted to soak in the beauty for a few last peaceful moments before it all was just a memory.
Written by MELISSA PERELLO.