Chef & partner
Chef Ken was born in Saitama, Japan and, from early childhood, was raised in Monterey Park, CA. Straight out of high school, Chef Ken got his start at Kayo; a neighborhood restaurant in Monterey Park, learning traditional techniques for preparing robata, sushi, and tempura. Chef Ken’s previous experience in the kitchen also includes working under Christophe Moreau for Patina Pastry of the Patina Group in Burbank.
Chef Ken cites his grandmother as a huge influence on his family. She was a remarkable artist who drew and sculpted in leather. “Both of my siblings, Eriko and George, and I all followed creative career paths due to her powerful artistic sensibilities that she shared with us.”
Chef Ken has been with Mélisse since 2001, and he recalls being rejected by Chef Josiah twice before being allowed to work as an extern in the kitchen. Through persistence, his passion for self-development, and years of on the job experience, he was eventually hired as a sous chef. After three years, Takayama was finally promoted to Chef de Cuisine, where he has been amazing clients with his talent ever since.
Born in Los Angeles but raised in the Sierra Foothills, Matthew’s first interest was in music and it has stayed with him throughout his life.
It was at around age twenty-one that Matthew first took an interest in wine. Two of his best friends introduced him to the world of wine, and it sparked an endless source of fascination for him. Matthew started tasting as much as possible, meeting winemakers and reading wine encyclopedias.
Matthew first heard of Mélisse the very first night he ate there. He remembers that he went on a whim - he found photos online of the food and was intrigued. He agreed with his friend that if the restaurant had a table open, they would go, and they did. It was that dining experience that cemented Matthew’s passion for taking his career in food and wine to the next level. In less than a year, Matthew became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. It took two years and three attempts before Matthew was offered the opportunity to stage at Mélisse. His persistence paid off, and he was first brought on as a part-time Captain, then later Assistant Sommelier and ultimately, Wine Director.