Wonder Woman of the High South - Chef Melody Lane

Chef Melody and Case - She Hates when he makes that face.

Chef Melody and Case - She Hates when he makes that face.

Who:  Melody Lane

Where:  Crystal Bridges of Museum Art

What:  Kabocha Wrapped in Lotus Leaves

Insights from the Food Editor:  Chef Melody Lane is quite possibly the best kept secret in not only the High South region, but perhaps the entire country.  Her experience is wide and diverse, ranging from owning an exclusive tea store in her home town, to the important role in the cultural, food explosion in Kansas City during the eighties, serving as working chef, culinary director to the Nelson Adkins museum, and even as world class, esteemed  fisher(woman) off the coast of Belize in the early 2000s.  Her nuanced, stylized technique of cooking matched with her uncanny knack for creating food inspired from art has made her a mentor to not only this chef, but culinarians all over the world.  Please note that both the Lotus Leaves and Kabocha pumpkins listed in this recipe are available at most Asian markets, including Mama Tang’s and Asian Amigo in Springdale.     

Kabocha - Well Stuffed

Kabocha - Well Stuffed

Kabocha Wrapped in Lotus Leaves


3 large Lotus leaves,
1 medium Kabocha or Japanese Pumpkin
3 cups sliced bread, cubed  
2 cups shredded Gruyere, White Cheddar, and Smoked Gouda cheeses - combined  1 cup of Heavy Cream  4 sprigs fresh Thyme 2 tablespoons Salt
Pinch Nutmeg 
Pinch Black Pepper  Kitchen Twine


Soak lotus leaves in warm water for three hours. After soaking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut, remove the top of the kabocha, remove seeds and hollow out interior. 

Wonder Women of the High South - Mel, Maudie, Chrissy

Wonder Women of the High South - Mel, Maudie, Chrissy

Rub tablespoon salt into interior flesh.  In large mixing bowl, combine cubed bread, cheeses, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Fill interior of kabocha with bread mixture, replace top.  Wrap pumpkin in lotus leaves and tie with kitchen twine, like you would a package.
Bake in shallow pan for 2 ½ hours or until soft to the touch.  Cut string, open package, enjoy. 

Japanese Pumpkin - Side View - 2018.jpeg

*Mel’s Note:  Feel free to add pecans, apples, cinnamon, dried cranberries, or fresh herbs to the bread mixture.

Full article featured here: https://www.citiscapes.com/eats-drinks