Melissa Hemsley enjoying a glass of wine
Melissa Hemsley tells Bonheur Living about her 90s fashion disasters, favourite wine and what happiness means to her.

A self-taught chef, food columnist, best-selling cookbook author, real food activist and sustainability champion (phew that’s a lot of strings to her bow) – Melissa Hemsley started her food career as a private chef with her sister Jasmine, cooking for international actors and musicians such as Take That.

She gained national recognition when, with her sister, she presented Channel 4’s ‘Eating well with Hemsley+Hemsley’.

Now, with nearly 200k followers on Instagram, Melissa is a leader in the call for us to love our leftovers and engage in the serious discussions needed around fair-trade food and food waste.

She is also a champion of ‘feel good food’, which she describes as not only tasting delicious but also nourishes our bodies, is grown in line with the seasons and is respectful to those who produce it.

Her upcoming, and 5th cook book, Feel Good is out in May and available for preorder here

What is your go-to happy song?
The Harry Potter waltz! I think I’ll finally have to learn how to play the cello. I found this video of these four cool ladies playing it here

What outfit makes you look back and laugh at it being so bad/ridiculous?
Any of my Spice Girls meet All Saints outfits – I couldn’t decide who I loved more so it was buffalo heeled boots, Adidas crop tops, Mel C ponytails (that were so high and tight they gave me headaches) and All Saint low low low army pants – that made my Lt Colonel Army Dad die of embarrassment

What age do you feel like?
Sometimes 5 and sometimes 60, both in a good way

What’s your favourite food memory?
Sitting on the carpet, watching TV, with my mum sitting next to me; peeling small, sweet, cooked prawns – then dunking them in vinegar and hand feeding them to me with white rice. Total diva. Always loved my mum hand feeding me. 

What do you like about yourself?
I like that I’m helpful and always up for helping others. You didn’t ask, but what I don’t like about myself is that I rarely ask for help myself!

What is your favourite vice?
I don’t have any vices, I don’t think, because I’m not exactly sure what counts as a vice these days!? I definitely don’t think this is a vice, but you’ve made me remember how I used to think/was brought up thinking that spending most of a day under the duvet was wicked! I absolutely love it. Sometimes I put ‘duvet days’ in my diary, I have to schedule them in. I rarely do them, but that makes them even better when I do. 

You’ve stumbled on a teleportation device – where do you go?
To the Philippines where my Mum is from and I’d take her with me. She’s not been back for 25 years and only once with me when I was 4 – we hopped from island to island. I’d love to get to see her in her homeland. I would need to take my dog though, not going anywhere without her. I’d also like a device that could let her (my dog) outlive me. 

What’s the best decision you’ve made in your life?
Wow! Talking about my own mental health outside of my home, it’s been freeing and stopped me from feeling so alone.

You are running late to meet your best friend at a bar. What drink do they have waiting for you when you arrive?
A Pouilly-Fuissé (Chardonnay from an appellation in Burgundy) if it’s a tiny bit sunny – let’s pretend we have a sea view! or a glass of Barolo (Nebbiolo from an appellation in Piedmont). Please can they have some snacks waiting for me too? Not asking for much.

What does happiness mean to you?
Being at peace, being barefoot, living gently and living connected to others and nature – because we are nature too. Happiness is also taking time to stop, sit back and drink your tea – hopefully outside or by an open window, looking at a tree, flowers, something alive and listening to beautiful music like this

Follow Melissa on Instagram here and to read more interviews click here