Meet the Chefs
UCO's dining mission is to bring students, faculty, and staff meals that satisfy. Part of what makes that mission succeed is our chefs. Hand-selected from diverse food backgrounds, chefs at UCO strive to make each meal memorable and delicious. The Chartwells dining staff leads with vision and are committed to bringing excellence to the table.
Chef Melodie Thornton, CCC
As the Executive Chef at UCO, Chef Melodie Thornton, CCC oversees the culinary aspect of all dining locations, as well as the catering operations. A Certified Chef de Cuisine, Chef Melodie started her professional life as a licensed accounting with a long-time love of cooking.
A career change brought her initially to Redrock Canyon Grill, where she served first as a temporary prep cook before quickly being promoted to Senior Kitchen Manager overseeing a team of up to 21 associates. Following her time at Redrock, Chef Melodie opened local favorite Paseo Grill as a partner, crafting the menu, kitchen, and general concept for the restaurant. A move to the Hal Smith Restaurant Group brought her touch to concepts like KD’s Southern Cuisine, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, and more as the Corporate Executive Chef. The final shift before joining the UCO and Chartwells family was a place on the team at Guckenheimer as the Executive Chef of nebu and Aravalli in the Devon Energy Center in Downtown OKC. She expressed her creativity there by crafting seasonal menu items and developing unique recipes for quarterly seven-course wine dinners.
In Chef Melodie’s free time, she runs a food photography business called “Plate to Pixels,” teaches a variety of culinary courses to students with a love of food, loves to spend time with her grandchildren and family, and has a huge interest in sports cars. Plus, she is fluent in Spanish!
The UCO and Chartwells team are lucky to have the expert addition of Chef Melodie Thornton, CCC. She has been pivotal in driving the catering operation to new heights, bringing changes to campus favorites like 1890, and preparing the team and menus for the opening of the new dining hall, Ayers Kitchen. She can be found in the kitchens of Ayers Kitchen or 1890 daily, so stop by and say hello!