Tell us about how you got into food…Who inspired you? Italy, what took you there?
Since I was young, food was always an important part of my life. I didn't know that it would become such a central part of my life until I went to Italy. I spent five years in Florence, studying and working in kitchens, immersing myself in the culture of both the country as well as professional kitchens. I learned so much about what it means to be creative with food, and after I returned, I felt energized to do my own thing. And that would eventually become Musang.
When the pandemic hit, Musang’s permanent restaurant was still so new! Other than your hard work what do you think helped get you though?
Community has always helped me get through. Musang wouldn't be here if it weren't for community support. We opened our brick and mortar space thanks to the support we received through our Kickstarter. Then we were able to survive thanks to not only the financial but also the emotional investment that so many people had in our mission. The best way we thought to honor that was through our Community Kitchen. We wanted to show that we feel the impact of the community's investment in us, and there's no way we can't give that energy back. We got through because of our trust in community.
You’ve talked about Musang being community driven and not chef driven. What do you mean by that?
See my answer above! But I would also add that a community driven space like Musang is all about education and opportunities for the people working in and visiting the space. Musang is not just me. It's so many people with their own stories, goals, ambitions. Each person brings something different to the space, so my emphasis on community is to highlight these unique talents and voices. I'm aware of the platform I have, and I want to use it to bring attention to the incredible people who I have gotten to meet and work with because of Musang.
Where is your go to dinner spot in Seattle?Are there any spots we must check out?
Yes! I always send people to Maneki, Kamonegi, and Mezzanotte.
Where did the name Musang come from?
From our website: "Melissa’s father immigrated to the United States in the early 70’s and moved to Beacon Hill after spending time in Alaska. His friends knew him to drive a black Mustang, on which the T in the ‘Mustang’ decal fell off after some time. Among his inner circle and eventually within his neighborhood’s tight-knit Filipino community, he became known as Musang, which is also ‘Wild Cat’ translated in Tagalog."
Musang are accepting donations of non-perishable food items and pantry staples on site during business hours, as well as monetary donations which can be made through their website or in our restaurant.