Helen Porter Mitchell (1861-1931) was a global operatic singing star of the late Victorian era. Mitchell’s image adorns the $100 note in her native Australia, which inspired her stage name Nellie Melba (taken from Melbourne, her hometown). Appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for charitable works during the Great War, she became known as Dame Nellie Melba, and the famed French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London created not one but four items in her honor: Peach Melba, Melba sauce, Melba toast, and Melba Garniture.
Here in Louisville, Charles Reed obviously respects Dame Nellie Melba’s kitchen connections, hence the name of the chef’s forthcoming restaurant, Melba’s Culinary Canvas.
Located in downtown Louisville at 430 W. Jefferson, Melba’s Culinary Canvas aims for a February opening. In an interesting interview at Louisville Business First, Reed described his approach to building a menu.
“I’m not trying to hang my hat on a chicken wing or a beer or a brewery or a burger — I’m trying to hang my hat on a full culinary program that offers diversity,” he said. “I’m just trying to do things that are delicious. I just want people to walk out of there and say, ‘that was really good.’”
Indeed, the bill of fare planned for Melba’s Culinary Canvas (on-line here) looks impressive, and every bit as diverse as Reed’s intent. At Facebook the owner-chef provides this staggering “product” overview: breakfast, lunch, dinner, bakery, coffee, chocolates, candies, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, ice sculptures, french pastry, petit four, soup, salad, entree, cocktails, wine, cappuccino, espresso, pasta, ramen, sandwiches, hamburger, Italian food, american food, french food, gumbo, steak, bourbon, martini, and craft beer.
And yes, multiple examples of each are right there Reed’s prospective menu. At opening, Melba’s Culinary Canvas will observe breakfast and lunch hours only (closed Sunday), later shifting to dinner service.