“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise.
-Ephesians 6:2 (NIV)
What is the recipe for the love between a mother and a daughter? For Emily Clavel, the owner of Meling’s, it’s a mixture of legacy, her determination to honor her parents and the type of love that stayed unchanged, even after her mother passed away.
Meling’s, whose specialty is laing, is a food venture founded by Emily Clavel. Emily’s motivation and vision for Meling’s is about fulfilling her mother’s legacy and keeping her memory alive.
Her dearest friend, Blessing Sicat, the one who brought Meling’s to our attention, says: “She’s tiny, but she’s mighty.” Her description comes to life as soon as we meet the woman behind Meling’s. Emily greeted us with a contagious kind of cheer. It was obvious that she and her father were the type of people you could easily swap stories with, and the story they shared was undoubtedly one of a kind. It was a tale filled with familial love, heartbreak, and of course: hearty comfort-food.
A rich helping of legacy
The story of Meling’s starts in Bicol, the hometown of her late mother Melly Clavel. Emily recalled times in her childhood that were spent there, and shared her love of the scenery, its potential and the culture.
Bicol is known for the abundance of delicious dishes cooked with copious amounts of coconut milk and generous helpings of chili. Emily divulged that Meling’s is indeed a family recipe, passed down from her mother’s side. “But she’s the best who can execute it!” she confidently assured us.
With the online rave reviews for Meling’s and after tasting the dish, we can’t help but agree. The Lokal Review, The Foodie Engineer and The Chui Show are only some who have fallen in love with their version of this Bicol dish. Emily’s father, the cook who presently prepares their laing, shared what makes their version unique: texture and taste.
For the standard that they uphold, they take pride in the quality of the ingredients and their refusal to cut corners. Their motto is “laing made with love” and they really do stick with that.
A giant spoonful of determination
Emily reminisces about her mother as a cook and a visionary. As someone who loved to perfect food, she took delicious dishes and made them even better. As a visionary, she wanted to export bottled laing all over the world. It was a big dream that Emily now shared.
When we asked her to tell us the story about the business, she went back to talking about her mother. Meling’s was never about just merely earning money. It was foremost about continuing her mother’s vision. She wanted to preserve her mother’s legacy so she asked herself: “Paano ko kaya hindi kalimutan nanay ko?”
The answer was to fulfill the dream of making good food and spreading the joy that it brings.
Laing was Melly’s favorite, but they also chose this dish because of its popularity among their friends. It was always the one people would clamor for them to cook. When we asked Emily’s friend, Blessing, to describe the dish, she said, “Some might think that I am biased simply because Emily is my friend, but that is just not the case. The reviews of many people who’ve tried the product aren’t lies at all. The first time I dipped my spoon in it and tasted it, it was like a thousand angels started to sing.”
Meling’s is known among her customers, not just for the delicious food, but because it is, the story of a daughter’s love and determination. “If you knew Emily well, everything she does is because of her family. Everything she ever was and is inspired her to be who she is today,” Blessing divulges. “Emily is young, no doubt, but her maturity surpasses mine in countless ways.”
A never-ending supply of love that stays unchanged
When we asked Emily and her father to tell us more about the woman who created Meling’s, they painted a picture of a family that not only enjoyed good food, but took great pleasure in creating it.
As a testament to their love of food, she told us about the many restaurants she and her mother would go to. How in each of these places a memory is embedded and blossoms every time she visits it. Her father shared how cutting up the ingredients now brings a pain in his heart, because they used to do all those things together.
With all those trips to the restaurants, the wonderful dishes they cooked together, you would think that when we asked Emily to share with us her best memory it would be one of those – but it was the times she took care of her mother when she got sick. “The best memory I had was the hardest times because those are the ones that you can never forget,” she shares.
Mrs. Melly Clavel died two years ago, and Emily tells us about those days with a kind of bravery that goes beyond her youth. She had absolutely no regrets, “I know I gave it my best until her last breath.”
The love Emily has for her mother, and the determination she passed on to her surpasses even the most heartbreaking tragedy. At the end of the day, theirs is a lifetime’s worth of moments shared over good, hearty food made with love.