The first time I met Melissa Joulwan, she hugged me.
It was the summer of 2011. We had planned to meet for dinner at Animal in Los Angeles with the Hartwigs of Whole9, and my nerves were jangling like deranged wind chimes. I’d never before met any Internet celebs in real life (or, frankly, anybody from the community of Paleo bloggers at all). I was going to meet a group of real-food superheroes that I’d admired and followed ever since going Paleo; their advice had changed my life. As Henry and I approached the restaurant, I felt like the new kid at school. I was desperate for my inner goober to stay hidden.
But that first hug from Mel—and her warm smile—instantly put me at ease. She teased and I giggled, and in no time at all, we were all sharing plates of food and raucous laughter. It’s hard not to become good friends with people with whom you’ve shared a platter of fried brains.
Since then, we’ve shut down restaurants in multiple time zones. Whenever Henry and I meet up with Mel and her husband Dave, we lose track of time, excitedly chattering about any and everything until we’re kicked out of whatever establishment we’re in.
It’s not just Mel’s keen palate, sassy writing, and glossy hair that I love; she and Dave are among the most creative, funny, and generous trailblazers we know. They strive to always do the right thing, aligning their goals with their values, and balancing work with play (and travel!). No wonder Mel and Dave are our role models; they follow their passions and make cool stuff—all while staying absolutely true to themselves.
As you all know, Mel’s dazzling personality and love for amazing flavors shines brilliantly in her first cookbook, Well Fed—the most dog-eared, sauce-splattered, well-loved resource in my kitchen.
It’s a flat-out amazing book—I can’t tell you how many people have confessed to me their deep love of it—but Mel’s now done the impossible: she somehow managed to improve on Well Fed. No matter if you’re cooking to impress a crowd or just yourself, Well Fed 2 offers everything a real food lover could hope for in a cookbook: international flavors, inventive tips, vivid stories, and stunning photography that dances off the page. The first time I flipped through the book, I already knew everything would be crazy-delicious, because my picky palate is rivaled only by Mel’s high flavor standards.
I joked recently in a recent interview with Liz Wolfe on the Balanced Bites podcast that I don’t read books any more—I just read magazines because I don’t have the time (or attention span) to get through anything longer than an US Weekly article (preferably about Baby Nori—and not just because her name makes me hungry for sushi). Besides, books are for smart people. But I do make an exception for cookbooks. And besides my own book, there’s no cookbook I’ve anticipated more than Well Fed 2.