Food News

Melissa Cala, Chef at the Corner, Dies After Asthma Attack

Melissa (Melie) Cala, chef at the Corner in downtown Miami, died over the weekend from complications following an asthma attack. The Corner issued the following statement on its Facebook page:

It was a work day like any other, when Meli realized she had forgotten

some cookies she had baked at home the day before on her day off. She

left to go back and get them in such a hurry that she

left her breathing apparatus behind. A few moments later, she placed a

call to 911 complaining of breathing trouble from the side of the road.

By the time the paramedic got to her she was barely breathing. At the

ER, the doctors did all they could with no success. Needless to say, we

are absolutely crushed by this loss.

Cala worked for some of the best chefs in Miami, including chef Bjoern

Weissgerber at Zuma and Michelle Bernstein, where she was chef

Bernstein's executive and personal assistant for over three years. Cala

was also involved with Common Threads, the organization devoted to educating children on healthy eating and nutrition through cooking.

Chris MacLeod, co-owner of the Corner, told Short Order he was shocked by

the news. "It's tough to get a grip on things." Last evening, the

Corner held a friends and family memorial night, with all proceeds

donated to Cala's family. The Corner should resume normal business

hours today.

On a recent visit to the Corner, I stopped in for a

cocktail. Melie jumped from the small kitchen where she was working to

say hello. "Are you hungry?" she asked. Not really waiting for an

answer, she bounced back to the kitchen to whip something up. She came

back with what had to have been the most gorgeous charcuterie platter

I've ever seen in my life -- wedges of cheese paired with the thinnest

shavings of fine prosciutto, eggs, and other savory bits. Her simple

plate was filled with as much care as the most complicated five-course

tasting menu. Melissa's enthusiasm for culinary arts, her new position

at the Corner, and life was boundless.

Her food and her zest for living will be missed.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss