Chantiel Melson is #MadeForKnoxville.

After investing over a decade of research and development into her dream, Chantiel is making change in the pastry industry.

Chantiel didn’t grow up seeing pastry chefs that looked like her; but the lack of representation didn’t stop her. She has passionately pursued her goals for the past 18 years, always learning while filling a variety of roles in the kitchen. When she landed in Knoxville, her partner’s hometown, Chantiel was ready to build community and continue building her dream of being an entrepreneur. She was selected as a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped and jumped at the chance to try a new challenge. This adventurous approach to life has brought Chantiel far in her journey as a business owner. She now owns her own pastry company, where she adds a little sweetness to life with her delicious creations. 

“My goal has always been to own my own business and change the narrative of what a pastry chef should look like.”

In Their Own Words…

I have been in the culinary industry for 18 yrs. I started out in Columbus, Ohio and spent most of my culinary career there. My goal has always been to own my own business and change the narrative of what a pastry chef should look like. Working in kitchens as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef, I perfected my craft and decided to pursue my passion as a pastry chef. I spent the last 8 yrs as a pastry chef developing recipes and studying. Yum Yum’s Patisserie is a 10 yr dream that has come true.

What led to entrepreneurship:

There are two big pivot moments in my career: The first being moving to Knoxville. I finished culinary school and moved to Georgia with my partner who is originally from Knoxville. Right before covid, we decided to move to Knox together. Once we got here, the community I found convinced me that I could be successful here and achieve my goals. 

The second big pivot moment for me was being a contestant on Chopped. It was never a box that I wanted to check. I decided to do Chopped because it was a challenge for me at a time when I felt like I needed it. Doing the show made me realize that I am right where I’m supposed to be.

Lessons learned:

Trust in the timing! Everything will happen when it’s supposed to–don’t rush. Continue to learn and grow in the process.


Interested in sharing your “Made for Knoxville” story? Submit here! 

Read another story →