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Check Out Melissa Schwimmer’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Schwimmer.

Hi Melissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
After college, I couldn’t see myself doing anything in particular in terms of a career. The only thing I knew was I loved being creative in any way and I want to make people happy, which is always the motivation for everything I do. One day I made dinner for some friends and they raved about the food. The meal made my friends feel good and that warmed my heart. That day I decided to try my hand at food blogging so I could share recipes and love on a broader scale.

I created my first sourdough starter named Jagger that I still have to this day because of the blog, I used matcha in recipes before it was a thing and made my friends and family guinea pigs for new recipes. I wrote odes to food, shared recipes, and review places I love to eat in New York- which is where I’m from. I no longer have the blog because shortly after I created it, I got a job in a cheese shop. I was a cheesemonger and I loved it but one day at the shop I ran into a woman who did food styling and that meeting was the catalyst for a new career path. I started freelancing as a food stylist for every fast-food company you can think of, magazines and cookbooks. After styling for a few years and making a bunch of connections in the food industry, I fell into a Culinary Producer role at BSTV Productions working on the show The Kitchen that’s on Food Network. I loved working with a team creating and testing recipes, writing scripts, and on set styling.

After that, I picked up and moved to Los Angeles where my next move was unclear. I worked in cannabis for a minute, worked on sets in Hollywood as a PA and tried my hand at social media managing (which I still do from time to time) but then, as it seems to always happen, I fell into private cheffing. I’ve had a huge range of clients from celebrities to families. My focus is on moving clients away from processed and fast foods and towards eating seasonal, sustainable and nutritionally dense whole foods. I LOVE LOCAL FOOD AND FARMER’S MARKETS…that being said I’ll never not love and there’s still always room for cheese fries, dumplings and pizza. Balance AMIRIGHT? I still occasionally do food styling shoots, write music and song lyrics, create silly videos (especially during COVID) and overall want to live my life creating not only beautiful food and content but taking in new experiences and growing through each one.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No road is smooth. There’s bumps and forks in the road. Every job I’ve had while seemingly appears before me and becomes my next undertaking comes with its own set of obstacles. Whether it be being a petite woman in a male-dominated industry and navigating around fair treatment and having a voice. Being a freelancer and dealing with the question “Will I ever work again?” when there’s a lull in work but always having to remind yourself money comes and goes. Also, coaching my way through the inevitable question of “Am I where I’m supposed to be and am I doing enough?”. That being said, I find through all these struggles is when you’re most able to reflect on your path and know that everything will work out how it’s supposed to so if you’re being persistent and doing everything in your power to progress your internal GPS will get you to your destination. It also teaches you that if something isn’t serving you and it causes more stress than contentment it’s time to move on.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My main bread and butter these days is private cheffing, catering and styling food. I’m known for (and super proud of) being the go-to person for cooking tips, food information, and the best places to eat. I have a rolodex of food knowledge in my head and am always happy to share with family, friends, and anyone else who asks! I love providing home cooks new ideas and strategies to make spending time in the kitchen less stressful and more enjoyable. I’m able to teach others about cooking in ways that are relatable and easy to understand. I’m the person everybody texts when they’re cooking and in need of some culinary advice. In my professional life, I’m a versatile and efficient chef. I make everything from diet-specific meals to stick to your ribs comfort food and can whip it up faster than you can say baconeggandcheese. I also specialize in being able to cook from whatever is in the pantry, fridge and leftover. I can make a meal out of essentially anything.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Be vocal about your skills and maintain the connections you make. Networking is all about meeting new people and putting yourself out there (even if it makes you uncomfortable) to remind people you have a skill that may be useful to them in the future. I think the most important bit of networking is establishing yourself and maintaining relationships that you’ve made to ensure that you’ll be top of mind for jobs and experiences. I’ve never had a specific mentor but, everyone I’ve ever worked with I treat as a mentor because everyone has passable knowledge that you can learn from.

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