PERSONAL: Married Robert Blanchard (a restaurateur, businessman, and carpenter); children: Jesse.
CAREER: Restaurateur and businessperson. Owner, with husband, Robert Blanchard, of Blanchard's Restaurant, Anguilla, British West Indies. Host, with Robert Blanchard, of television shows for the Fine Living Network and Public Broadcasting Service.
AWARDS, HONORS: Blanchard's Restaurant received the Best in Caribbean Award.
WITH ROBERT BLANCHARD
A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean (memoir), Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 2000.
At Blanchard's Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook, photographs by Ben Fink, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 2003.
Cook What You Love: Simple Flavorful Recipes to Make Again and Again, photographs by Ellen Silverman, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 2005.
Live What You Love: Notes from an Unusual Life (memoir), Sterling Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
ADAPTATIONS: Books adapted to audio include A Trip to the Beach, Brilliance Audio, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Melinda and Robert Blanchard met in college, and together they began their first business in Norwich, Vermont, where they developed a successful line of specialty foods and kitchen items under the name of Blanchard & Blanchard & Son. They followed their dream and opened a restaurant in Anguilla, British West Indies, which was destroyed in 1995 by Hurricane Luis, rebuilt and eventually became a four-star restaurant that is frequented by celebrities. It has been named the Best in the Caribbean and recognized by Wine Spectator for its extensive wine cellar.
The Blanchards wrote and sold their first book, A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean, with the help of a literary agent who dined at their restaurant. It is a memoir of how they made the decision to open it, as well as the steps taken to begin, including locating suppliers and obtaining permits and dealing with red tape and bureaucracy. They had sold their specialty foods business, but what they had perceived as a stress-free island life soon became hectic as they imported building materials and equipment for the kitchen from the United States, created a menu, and trained staff. When after six years on the island they became homesick for Vermont, they taught their staff to run the restaurant during the off-season so that they could divide their time between their old home and their new one.
In an interview with Yankee contributor Amy Traverso, Melinda Blanchard said that "we missed just going to a movie or having Chinese food. We contemplated selling the business and moving on. Only we couldn't quite do it. Part of it is the people down there. They're not just employees. They've become central to our whole existence." In their memoir, the Blanchards include recipes, along with a description of life in Anguilla and the people who live there. Library Journal reviewer Alison Hopkins called the book "absorbing and well written."
In their cookbook At Blanchard's Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook, the Blanchards include such recipes as Vermont Cheddar Soup, Potato Salad with Lime and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Island Rice with Cumin and Coconut. Included are photographs of the island and the staff. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that they "successfully blend New England practicality with the generosity and warmth of the islands."
The Blanchards wrote Live What You Love: Notes from an Unusual Life, in which they explain that "if we don't love it, we don't do it." They provide intimate details of their lives that will inspire readers who seek fulfillment and success. Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan wrote that this book "will appeal to fans of inspirational literature."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Blanchard, Melinda, and Robert Blanchard, A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 2000.
Blanchard, Melinda, and Robert Blanchard, Live What You Love: Notes from an Unusual Life, Sterling Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, September 1, 2000, Brad Hooper, review of A Trip to the Beach, p. 58; November 1, 2005, Margaret Flanagan, review of Live What You Love, p. 15.
Entertainment Weekly, December 1, 2000, Daneet Steffens, review of A Trip to the Beach, p. 92.
Library Journal, September 1, 2000, Alison Hopkins, review of A Trip to the Beach, p. 238; February 15, 2003, Judith Sutton, review of At Blanchard's Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook, p. 164; September 1, 2005, Wendy Lee, review of Live What You Love, p. 163.
People, January 8, 2001, Kim Hubbard, review of A Trip to the Beach, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2000, review of A Trip to the Beach, p. 94; January 6, 2003, review of At Blanchard's Table, p. 56.
Yankee, October, 2004, Amy Traverso, "From the Farm to the Islands" (interview) p. 95.
Blanchard's Restaurant Web site, http://www.blanchardsrestaurant.com (March 5, 2006).
Live What You Love Web site, http://www.livewhatyoulove.com (March 5, 2006).
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (March 5, 2006), brief biography of authors.