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Meet Stephanie Melim of Girl with the Iron Cast in Delray Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Melim.

Stephanie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Food has always been a big part of my life. Coming from a family of Portuguese home cooks, some of my fondest memories include food and how it brought us all closer together. You could taste the love in every bite you took.

I grew up a ballerina and attended art schools my whole life. Once I stopped dancing, I no longer had a creative outlet and I needed to find a new passion. Once I had a 9-5, I found myself using the kitchen as a way to de-stress. I found it so therapeutic chopping vegetables, creating new recipes, and brainstorming what I could do with new ingredients. I started sharing a few photos of my creations, which triggered many messages asking me to share the recipes. It brought me so much joy to get great feedback from friends and family on my dishes. I felt like I was bringing people together through taste and helping teach those who weren’t as comfortable in the kitchen. I felt a new creative spark that I had not felt in years since dance.

‘Girl with the Iron Cast’ all snowballed from there, I started sharing my creations on social media, built a website, and now I have people around the world making my recipes. I love to see my recipes to be made in Australia, China, South America, and other countries across the world. It is a great feeling.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In February of 2018, I was involved in a freak accident that snapped my arm in half. Two surgeries, one huge titanium plate and seven screws later… there I was, in recovery, unable to fulfill my newly found cooking passion. During my recovery (in between surgical follow-ups and physical therapy appointments), I sat around frustrated. Unable to cook, and more importantly, unable to de-stress, it was tough, to say the least. I slowly discovered that I could begin cooking again with one arm in a sling. As I approached recovery, it was this event as part of the inspiration behind my name, “Girl with the Iron Cast.” Not only did I love cooking with cast iron, but it was a metaphor for how strong and resilient I had become.

Please tell us about Girl with the Iron Cast.
Girl with the Iron Cast was created to inspire and share my love of cooking. I wanted to create a place where all home cooks with different levels of experience could come and find something they could create. Beginner cooks could follow along and feel comfortable cooking in the kitchen, while experienced cooks can be stimulated by more advanced recipes. There are so many recipe sites out there and what sets ‘Girl with the Iron Cast’ apart is the accessibility, detail of each recipe, and emphasis of flavor development in each dish. My goal is to leave my readers with a sense of accomplishment, pride in what they created, and a lasting impression on their tastebuds.

What I’m most proud of is having my recipes being made globally. To see my recipes being made in almost every country in the world is the best feeling ever. I never thought that this many people would love my dishes and share my same passion for cooking.

What were you like growing up?
It would surprise my readers to learn that I was very shy and quiet growing up. My mom initially put me in dance to help me socialize and come out of my shell. I started dance at three years old and I studied ballet, jazz, modern, and pointe throughout high school. I attended the middle school of the arts and Dreyfoos high school of the arts for Dance. I attended summer programs with Miami City Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and others. I was set to attend college for dance in New York, but after a string of bad injuries, I had to hang up my dance shoes. It was tough to retire fully from dance with such a big passion for it. I danced a few more years as a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader from 2011-2013. After a few more injuries, I stopped dancing for good. Dancing for over 20 years was my creative outlet and I am so glad that although I couldn’t create with my body anymore, I found a new way to create with cooking.

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