The Femme Stories is a blog series celebrating the makers who inspire and empower their community, and continue to gift us with their creativity; these are their stories.

Melissa | Mel’s Hangry Table 

Melissa’s Instagram was my guilty pleasure during the start of the pandemic, she legit entertained me and took away the stress of the uncertainty of the times. She shared what she was doing at home, along with what she was cooking, plus when restaurants started opening up she quickly worked to set up a Restaurant Directory to highlight as many local restaurants as possible. I never go out before checking her directory or Instagram for inspiration on where to eat out!
Mel's Hangry Table Blog
I started following a year ago and instantly fell in love with your vibe on social media, when did you start food blogging/influencing? 

I’ve been doing this for about three years, consistently. My family owns Sabai Thai, a restaurant in Kanata, so I was trying to figure out if there was a support system for local restaurants and I didn’t really find anything. I was like, okay, well, since I post about food, and I talk about food, and local businesses, why not go all in. I started to help my family restaurant, but also restaurants nearby and it grew from there.

How long have you had your family restaurant and from your stories I know you are involved in the front of house, but are you ever in the back of house at the restaurant?

It’s been four to five years that we have had the restaurant and definitely cannot do back of house. I have much love for chefs and sous chefs, the work that they do is absolutely wild. Like, I can’t do it personally, so kudos to them.

When I started following you it was the very start of the pandemic and you were sharing a lot of your own family’s recipes, did you always do that or how did the blog start out initially?

So, the beginning was mostly restaurants just because when you're in the restaurant industry your hours are so crazy. Mine were 11am to 9pm, with a break from 2-5. That didn’t always leave me time to go home and cook, so I was always eating out, that's why I started doing reviews on restaurants. I pretty much ate out all the time.

At the start of the pandemic, when the stay at home order was in place, I needed to fill my time and that's when I started incorporating the recipes. I would prepare a dish, test it out and post a picture, people were really engaged because we were all home and it grew from there. 

When COVID-19 hit, influencers throughout Ottawa made it their mission to put focus on small businesses and you were a champion for local restaurants. Was your restaurant directory always a goal, or inspired by this past year? 

It came about because of the lockdown. It was just so confusing, because we weren't sure what restaurants were open and what the rules were for each restaurant. I thought because I have this platform I should use it to have a directory for everyone to be able to see the information on one page. Then you can see what restaurants are open near me, how can I order, what are their rules. There is still a lot more I want to add but I did really want to highlight as many restaurants as possible. 

Your social media focuses on your family, from your restaurant, to mama Mel living below you, was this a conscious decision or did it come about organically?

Well, it was because I live with my mom, so it is definitely a conscious decision. Anytime my mom is featured on my Instagram it is because we have talked about it and she has given her permission. She understands what I do and gets what it is about.

Do you ever feel pressure when promoting a certain restaurant or brand? 

No, I’m very transparent. They know I have to try their food before posting about it and most of the time I've already eaten at that restaurant and then they reach out asking if I will promote. I am just really honest and only promote restaurants or brands I have tried and really enjoy myself.

 Do you ever feel like you are running out of restaurants to city?

No, there's so many, especially those hole in the wall restaurants or mom and pop shops where they make something so unique and it's not in mainstream media, which is super cool.

 If you had to only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Sushi, I could literally eat it all the time! I have been to Japan a couple times and it is my absolute fav.

 What are you currently reading?

I actually read a lot of other people’s reviews on restaurants. I follow Facebook groups and that is a great spot to find those hole in the wall places that are out of my neighbourhood. 

Mel's Hangry Table is the website I check before heading out to eat. She has lots of different options for whatever mood you are in and the reels she creates totally inspires where I will eat next. Make sure to head to Mel’s Hangry Table website to check out her directory + her reels are drool worthy. If you are feeling in a restaurant slump Mel can 100% bring you out with her all her amazing content and get you inspired to enjoy some Ottawa Restaurants.

Written by Carissa McCaig

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