Kelly was born and raised in New York. She attended Binghamton University and graduated with a Bachelors degree in English. After a couple years working as a paralegal, she decided to follow her passion, and took a leap of faith to attend the French Culinary Institute (aka Internationl Culinary Center) and enrolled in the Italian program. She was inspired by watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows on PBS growing up.
After staging in Tuscany and Milan, she returned to New York and Chef Mark Ladner of Del Posto took a chance and hired her out of school. She also worked on Lidia Bastianich’s Emmy award winning cooking show for 2 seasons as a culinary assistant- a surreal moment where she was able to work with the very person who inspired her to pursue Italian cuisine. After 2 years at Del Posto, she decided to expand her repertoire, and took a job at 3 Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park under Chef Daniel Humm, where she spent 3 years, eventually becoming a sous chef. Afterwards, she was offered the position of chef de cuisine to open Orsone Ristorante in Cividale del Friuli, Italy, Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s first European outpost.