Chef Melissa King finds Tasting Wild expresses her true love language, interview

Chef Melissa King for Tasting Wild on National Geographic, photo provided by Alaska Seafood
Chef Melissa King for Tasting Wild on National Geographic, photo provided by Alaska Seafood /

From winning Top Chef All-Stars to exploring the world on Tasting Wild on Hulu in partnership with National Geographic explorers and photographers, Chef Melissa King appreciates that the food on the plate represents more than an immaculate recipe curated in a kitchen. During a recent conversation with the celebrated chef, the entrepreneur shared how she was inspired by these National Geographic experiences and what she hopes viewers will discover in the various episodes.

For those unfamiliar with Tasting Wild, Chef Melissa King travels with National Geographic explorers and photographers into nature. While the locales are visually breathtaking, it is more than a postcard moment. The areas serve to inspire culinary creativity.

Culinary professionals and regular people can appreciate that food and travel combine to create a flavor, a memory, and a moment that lingers far longer than expected. When asked what she hopes that people take from this show, Chef Melissa said, “I hope the take away is to open yourself to taking a chance — on new experiences, on exploring nature, and on yourself. The series takes me into various experiences in nature sparking inspiration in my cooking as well as my life.”

While each location is quite different, there can be common threads across the miles. When asked, Chef Melissa said, “The commonalities I discovered across each location was that nature is unpredictable and there’s beauty to that. Each location had a drastically different climate, temperature, and terrain which inspired a new outcome each time. For example, I may go hiking into a forest in hopes to find morel mushroom, only to discover beautiful oyster mushrooms on a log, which would inspire a new direction for a mushroom dish I would create. I found beauty in the unexpected.”

Chef Melissa King on Tasting Wild with Alaskan Salmon
Chef Melissa King on Tasting Wild on Hulu, photo provided by Alaska Seafood /

Even though there can be unexpected moments, food can break down barriers in ways that words cannot. For Chef Melissa, she believes that food offers that connection. She said, “Food has always been my love language. It’s my way of expressing my emotions, my identity, and my experiences. Tasting Wild captures the places I visit as well as the experiences of that location through the final dishes I create. My hope was for each National Geographic explorer that I was with as well as viewers watching can feel the experience we went on together through the final dish.”

Although viewers are not necessarily stepping into her shoes, Chef Melissa hopes that everyone can gain a great appreciation for food and traditions. She said, “I love cooking and discovering the flavors growing around me. Every region, country, and city can have a unique ingredient or dish it’s known for. An inland region may have more meat centric dishes, while a coastal region will have more seafood focused dishes. I enjoy creating recipes that bring some of these travels back home for the every day person to enjoy. For example, seafood can be an intimidating ingredient to cook at home, and I’ve created these two recipes that highlight seafood with Asian ingredients using common techniques such a broiling and curing – Broiled Alaska Sablefish with Fish Sauce and Black Garlic Glaze and Tamarind Lemongrass Cured Alaska Salmon.”

Whether some people make a version of these dishes at home, book a trip to one of the regions, or simply incorporate an ingredient into a favorite recipe, a hunger for more food knowledge is vital to moving the conversation forward.

Chef Melissa King prepared a Broiled Alaska Sablefish
Chef Melissa King prepared a Broiled Alaska Sablefish, photo provided by Alaska Seafood /

As Chef Melissa shared, “As a chef, I strive to maintain the integrity of an ingredient’s origins and story in the final dishes I create. For example, I prefer to source seafood from Alaska, where all seafood is wild and sustainable. The Alaska seafood industry goes to great lengths to understand and respect their greatest resource and ensure they are only harvesting what the environment can support. It’s conscious decisions along the path of a dish from where I’m sourcing ingredients from to how I’m preparing it that build a deep rooted mission behind every dish.”

Since there are many more places to explore and flavors to taste, Chef Melissa King has more roads to travel. She said, “My travel bucket list is never-ending but one place I’ve been wanting to visit is Alaska, so I can immerse myself deeper into the seafood practices and harvests.”

To see more of Chef Melissa King, her adventures, and dishes, watch Tasting Wild on Hulu. Season 1 has five episodes, Glacier, High Desert, Coastline, Volcano, and Forest.