Hometown: Huntington Beach
Family: Married to Phil McCullough, with four grown children, seven grandchildren and a West Highland Terrier named Bonnie
First job: I taught kindergarten in Fountain Valley at Cox Elementary.
Worst job: Selling cheap cologne door-to-door at Christmastime when I was 14.
Biggest break: The Register let me write for more than two decades. And Melissa’s Produce and publisher John Wiley & Sons gave me the opportunity to write two big-seller cookbooks.
Secret to your success: I love food, cooking and storytelling.
Advice to other women in business: Find your passion, then work isn’t work. It’s fulfillment.
Best meal for a novice to make: Go with comfort food. Roast chicken with roasted root vegetables. Mixed green salad with tarragon and blue cheese vinaigrette. Warm Blueberry Betty with French vanilla ice cream.
Secret cooking tip: Buy a good instant-read thermometer, a large deep skillet that is oven-proof, and high-quality knives with comfortable handles – at least one santoku style and one utility knife.
At 64, Thomas has a career that is hotter than Betty White’s. Last year, the longtime Orange County Register food writer published her second book, “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce” (Wiley, $29.95). Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse recommended the book on “Good Morning, America” as a must-buy. And she has a third book coming out in 2012.
Named best food columnist by the Association of Food Jounalists, Thomas also has embraced new media, taping hundreds of online videos for the Register’s Web site. She’s thought to be the first newspaper food editor to pioneer the use of online videos.
“I love hosting chefs in my kitchen and cooking with them for the camera,” Thomas says. “Celebrity chefs Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin and Marcus Samuelsson have all spent time in my kitchen – and every time, I learn something new.”
OC METRO'S 20 WOMEN TO WATCH FOR 2011
Carol A. Taylor | Staci Brillhart | Kay S. Napier | Eve Lowey
Julie Lim | Kate Klimow | Monica Wise | Marcy McKenna
Victoria Wade | India Hynes | Farrah Emami | Lisa Wolter
Mary-Christine “M.C.” Sungaila | Shirley Balarezo
Renee P. McLeod | Laura Khouri | Alyson Noël
Brenda Brkusic | Cathy Thomas | Sue Swenson
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