"There is always the book version of what the food and beverage industry is like and then there is the reality of it," said Doney. "[SCCC] really helped to make us well-rounded individuals for the real world."
Toby Strianese, a professor in the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Department at SCCC, knew Doney applied for the show last fall and was waiting to hear the outcome. Strianese was ecstatic to find out she was selected.
"When Melissa first enquired about our Culinary Arts program, I asked her what her goals would be when she graduated. She replied, 'One of them is to be on TV,'" said Strianese. "From her experiences working in food service at the Kentucky Derby and interning at Walt Disney World, along with her determination and her bubbly personality, she should be well-prepared for Chef Ramsay and the "Hell's Kitchen" challenge."
Doney said she became interested in cooking while she was attending SUNY Potsdam. When she was looking for a job, the only one she could find was salad prep at a local Italian restaurant. The following semester she rearranged her schedule at college to allow her to work more hours at the restaurant to further her learning experience in the kitchen.
"There was something about it that I just felt this is something that I want to do," said Doney. "I was transferred to the fine dining restaurant owned by the same people and ended up being their sautE cook over there."
Doney said she was always very passionate about food, and her first job was at an ice cream parlor and snack bar.
"I've always been involved in food and beverage to some capacity. It has always been in me," said Doney. "I tried the office routine sitting behind a desk, but that just isn't really me."