Slasher Girl: How Jhesika Menes Is Inspired By Grilled Cheese
Slasher Girl will be sharing with us their fave girls at the forefront of balancing multiple talents!
Chef/Producer/Model Jhesika Menes treats New Orleans as her half dressed muse, studied food in Germany and trained under chocolatier Cheryl Scripter. We met up with Jhesika in the big easy.
Let’s start with your work as a model. When did you start modeling and where?
I started modeling in Dallas TX where I was attending college for Visual Communications. I was dating a guy in video production at the time who always said I should model or act unbeknownst to me he had submitted a few photos of mine to a Kim Dawson Agency model search. I ended up winning out of 1200 entries. So I figured I’d try it out. It was 1999. I moved to NYC shortly after.
You met your husband on a photo shoot for Spanx. Was it love at first sight?
It was. He had already seen me in next to nothing, I figured it was ok to write my number on his arm with a Sharpie marker. After 10 days of dating we got married. It was insane, but that is undeniably our preferred method of operation. We’re coming up on 6 insane years later.
Why did you make the move to New Orleans?
For the love of love, art, and food. Nola is my half dressed muse. Gritty, sultry, lush with character, charming yet scary, plus my husband is from there. That’s all the things that matter in one sentence. I had to choose between New Orleans and Atlanta. I made the right decision.
What keeps you here?
The culture, the city itself. There’s no place like it. It’s hot as Hell in the Summer, but that’s ok. Because you call some place paradise and you can kiss it goodbye.
You are also a chef and caterer! What type of cuisine do you love to make?
Well, sad to say I was a Chef, as I no longer work in commercial kitchens. If my production company, Menes Studios, requires craft services I will jump in and cook for my talent and crew. But for the most part my Chef skills have been limited to at home baking and cooking. My favorite cuisine is definitely German. I studied food in Germany for a year. Sauerkraut, Ox knuckle, stone hand-ground mustard, Würstsalat, Flammekuchen, Bavarian pretzels and pastries = Heaven.
What inspires you?
Neon lights, classic rock, passport travel, that crackle and pop at the end of an old dusty record, the way Christmas trees and baking bread smells, pleasant people, port cities, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, vintage cars and genuine leather.
When you aren’t making food, you are writing about it in your column, Conscious Palate. We love how you merge your passions into a career. When did you start writing about your passions?
After I returned from Germany I went out for a friend’s 80’s themed birthday party in the French Quarter. New Orleans isn’t known for its level streets, and in full Flashdance costume my leg warmer covered high heel got stuck in a pothole. I’ll spare you the details but I had no idea body parts could hyper-extend in opposing directions like that. I tore a ligament in my left ankle. I suffered through Hurricane Isaac in a boot cast with no AC, lights, or refrigeration. It was miserable. I was bound to crutches for the first 3 weeks of treatment, and anyone that has ever worked in a restaurant knows there are no chairs in the kitchen. It’s like working a circus sideshow. People playing with fire and sharp knives, sweating, swearing, cracking jokes, crushing anyone who gets in their way – not the place for an injured woman. So I was approached by a local entertainment magazine about writing my own food column. The rest is history. I dig it.
Who inspires you?
My husband Jorge. He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met. The man should have a booth where he charges for ideas. He’s that kind of melt your mind, always thinking, three steps ahead wonder boy you consult when you need a little help launching a plan or brand. And female, that’d have to be someone I never met but wish I had, Tallulah Bankhead – because she was the original bad girl, but still deemed a talented lady. She’d do cartwheels at Hollywood parties, steal men’s wives, and then kill it the next day on set with a hangover. I’m not saying she’s the best role model, but that was unheard of back then – to behave that way – to have the guts to be wild, as nature intended; to not hide behind the pin curls and glamour headshot. Then there’s Julia Child. What a talented amazon of a woman who mastered her craft in spite of tragedy peppered personal experiences.
You trained under chocolatier Cheryl Scripter of Bittersweet Confections and celebrity Chef Susan Spicer. How important do you feel it was for you to have women mentors?
Tremendously important and beneficial to my professional manner. I learned to take no shit because you’re a woman. I learned shoulders to cry on aren’t optimal platforms for ladder climbing in the culinary world. Everyone is a foe, you are the only one with your best interest at heart, to look out for number one. Work fast and be neat. Always ask questions. I learned everything there is to know about the art form of chocolate from Cheryl. Susan taught me a woman can make it in a male dominated field and it’s ok to still be a girl at the end of the day. That even though you just sliced your fingertip off you tape it up, put on a glove, and power through your shift even if the pain is crippling. She also taught me how important travel is to truly knowing food, that experiencing worldly cuisine will only further develop your skill and palate. Additionally, thanks to her, I know how to properly open 14 cans in under a minute by hand. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.
What is your spirit animal?
The Beluga whale. Just look at their faces… they are always smiling. I’m one of those hard shell soft center folks – you have to hide your happiness and sadness to veil your vulnerability this day and age. But my constitution is strong and set on never losing the kid inside myself. I love the ocean, the cold, and I’m a Pisces. An Arctic whale with perma-grin as my spirit animal just makes sense.