We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa “Chef Mel” Cottingham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa “Chef Mel”, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
I recently read Tabitha Brown’s “Feeding the Soul” book and absolutely feel in love with it and with myself all over again. Tabitha shared her journey as a mother, actress, wife and someone who too loss their mother. She shares her journey and its so refreshing to read. It impacted me in a huge way. It challenged me to face things in my past that I have avoided, fully release all burdens, love and be myself, finding peace within so I can reach my full potential!! I feel so uplifted and more motivated than ever!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Private Chef, Entrepreneur and owner of a chicken wing pop up called Melnificent Wingz. I believe the main thing that sets me apart from others is the genuine care and attentiveness I give each ingredient in every dish that I serve. Cooking fuels my soul and I want to pour into others through their belly; positive energy and making that first bite memorable. I am so proud of how far I’ve come in my career. I used to sell plates, but only to my friends because I was too scared to sell it to the public yet. The journey has had its ups and downs but I never lost sight of the main goal. I would work my full-time job during the week and then recipe test on the weekends. I started small and in the beginning never imagined I would be at this point where I am now. I did it broke, scared, and afraid but I did it. I signed up for a fast pace culinary school in person and Youtube was culinary school online. I didn’t know everything and I still don’t, no one does. But the more you keep the mindset of a lifelong student, you will continue to learn and flourish in your craft. I learned a lot of lessons along the way and I’m still learning. I learned that having a solid teams makes life so much easier. I learned a lot about having necessary paperwork in place is vital.
I want the world to know mostly about my brand and my story mainly because I am a vessel so I always want to be an inspiration. My brand wasn’t built overnight and there definitely was a lot of obstacles and doubt. When you figure out what it is you want to do, why you want to do it and what’s your motivation for doing it, that will be the very thing you can focus on through it all. I want to continue to be relatable and humble. Thats how I am able to meet amazing people everyday. My story is my testimony and it is unique. I moved cross country with hope and a prayer. I wanted to be immerse myself in the city of opportunity which is Los Angeles. I lost my mother and had to figure out why and how I needed to continue to live without her. I knew what my mom sacrificed and how much she believed in me, that is my WHY. I made sure I made connections every where I went. They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I disagree, it’s who knows YOU. Be yourself, be authentic and you will be memorable because you are relatable.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were to come visit Los Angeles for a week they would be worn out by the end of it. I would take them on a morning hike at Runyon Canyon and then go grab a protein shake. After we are refreshed, I would take them to Sage restaurant in Pasadena for lunch and walk around a little. For dinner, I would take the scenic route pass the Muholland Drive Overlook and head to Yardbird. The following day we can make it a beach day, I would take them to Malibu and drive PCH to see the Santa Monica Pier. The best place to meet interesting people would definitely be the pier, but walking down Melrose as well as billiards in LA are great as well. If they wanted to, I would take them to see the Hollywood sign and walk Hollywood Blvd.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to shout out my affiliate organization, Extraordinary Families. Extraordinary Families key mission is to help children and youth in foster care thrive in safe and loving homes regardless of race, color, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. I will also be a part of their mentoring program and workshops soon!