Primo Orlando is a top 20 restaurant

Melissa Kelly, Executive Chef and Proprietor of Primo Restaurant, with locations in Orlando, Tucson, AZ. and Rockland, ME., was named one of the top 20 most important restaurants in America by Appetit magazine.

Kelly will be receiving the TORCH Award during the upcoming Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show taking place September 27 – 29, 2016 at the Orange County Convention Center.

The award, which recognizes an individual or group of Chefs or Restaurateurs whose achievements have enhanced and brought innovation to the restaurant and foodservice community, will be presented by Ferdinand Metz, Certified Master Chef and former President of the Culinary Institute of America for more than 20 years, and Chairman of the show’s Education Program.

“Kelly’s restaurant, Primo, was first opened in 2002 and introduced many diners across the East Coast to the idea of farm-to-table, with up to 80% of ingredients coming from the restaurant’s own four-acre farm,” said Master Chef Metz. “When she opened the satellite Primo location in Orlando she brought the farm-to-table concept to the Florida market and we are thrilled to present her with this illustrious award to recognize her many innovations and accomplishments.”

Kelly partnered with J.W. Marriott Hotels in 2003 to open satellite Primo restaurants at the Grande Lakes Resort in Orlando, Florida and at the Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Primo received the Grand Award for Restaurant of the Year by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, and in 2013 was the first ever two-time recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef, Northeast.

Kelly graduated first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. Following graduation, Kelly started at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, where she would be chosen as an assistant to the Greenbrier Cooking School. Kelly also went to work at An American Place, under the guidance of the Godfather of American cuisine, Larry Forgione, and would soon become the executive chef at An American Place at the Beekman Arms Tavern in Rhinebeck, NY, and was also in charge of opening An American Place Waterside in Miami.

“The TORCH award honors individuals whose professional accomplishments drive the industry forward and we are excited to present this honor to Melissa Kelly,” said Ron Mathews, Vice President for the Urban Expositions Family of Foodservice Events. “On behalf of Urban Expositions and the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum we congratulate Melissa for providing exemplary innovation, initiating improvement and engaging with the industry.”

Melissa joins Torch Award Winners Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, who received the award at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York; Norman van Aken, Chef and Founder of NORMAN’S who received the award at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show; and Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Chefs and Owners of Border Grill & Truck who received the award at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will bring together 450+ vendors and 8,000 restaurant, foodservice and retail professionals to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Attendees of the Expo will have the opportunity to participate in over 30 educational sessions at the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum, the gold standard, industry-leading educational conference dedicated to foodservice professional development. The 2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will be held September 27-29 at the Orange County Convention Center.  For more information, visit or