Food network

Mel’s Butcher Box owner will be on Food Network ‘Chef Boot Camp’

We have a new Food Network star from North Jersey.

Melanie Landano, owner of Mel’s Butcher Box in Tenafly, will appear on “Chef Boot Camp,” which airs at 10 p.m. May 5.

The show is hosted by Cliff Crooks, the culinary director of BLT Steak in Manhattan. In each episode, Crooks teaches three chefs new skills by having them complete challenges over three days. The experience culminates in the chefs being put to work in one of Crooks’ restaurants, where they must create a new dish.

“It really is like a training camp. It’s hard work,” Landano said.

Landano previously worked as a project manager for butcher Pat LaFrieda. She has also consulted for restaurants such as Prohibition in Westwood and Axia in Tenafly.

In 2020, she opened food truck Mel’s Butcher Box, which spent most days parked in Tenafly. This led to a brick-and-mortar of the same name which opened in 2021. Its burgers — made with Pat LaFrieda beef, of course — have become a favorite with locals, as have its ribeye cheese steaks, bacon on a stick, honey buffalo chicken and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Landano can’t reveal much about her time on the show, but she can’t wait to see her restaurant on the small screen. (Food Network stopped by Tenafly to take photos of Landano in his element at Mel’s Butcher Box.)

Food:Our food journalist attends a star-studded Alpine Country Club event to see how the rich and famous food

Landano has auditioned for Food Network shows such as “Food Network Star,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and “hundreds of others,” she said. This time, Food Network contacted her and asked her if she would like to participate in “Chef Boot Camp”.

Melanie Landano worked for Pat LaFrieda for years in quality control.

“It’s not a competition,” she said. “It’s a matter of learning. It’s a very different working atmosphere from that of my restaurant. I hope to use what I learned on the show and incorporate it into my restaurant.

If you miss the show on Food Network, you can watch it on the Discovery+ streaming service. Mel’s Butcher Box is located at 10 W. Railroad Ave., Tenafly; 201-266-4633,

Rebecca King is a food writer for To find out more about where to dine and drink, please register today and join our North Jersey Eats Newsletter.


Twitter: @rebeccakingnj

Instagram: @northjerseyeats