Receta de Vida

September 11, 2001 should have been the best day of Melissa Fox’s life. After working as a film exec in Hollywood for eight years, she quit her job and was on her way back home to NYC in the hopes of finding something more fulfilling.

Despite being deplaned and heartbroken over the tragedy of 9/11, Fox still forged ahead with her plans to move and did what every woman in her family had done in times of trouble: she cooked. “Everything was a mess, so planning meals and procuring ingredients became a form of therapy.” Fox started throwing weekly dinner parties. “Eventually, friends would call, inquiring about a dish I made, and I offered to make it for them. That’s how my catering began.”

Fox grew up with a Nicaraguan-born mom and an all-American dad from Omaha, and her catering menu reflected her bicultural upbringing. Her empanadas came baked, not fried; were filled with unusual ingredients, like smoked Gouda and portabella mushrooms; and topped with her own homemade picante and chipotle mayonnaise.

When she opened A Casa Fox, her Latin fusion restaurant in New York City, Fox honored her family for instilling in her their love of food and togetherness. Pictures of the volcano in Managua adorn the walls of A Casa Fox, as do photos of her mom, grandma and aunts, many of whom still live in Nicaragua.

At the restaurant, Fox’s mom often works the crowd, “letting everyone know she’s the mom of the owner,” says a smiling Fox. “What can I say? My family is proud of me.”


by Robyn Moreno