Photography by Shalicia Johnson
Carmell Jackson opened her restaurant, Melly Mell’s Soul Food, in 2010 and transitioned to catering in 2015. Carmell works out of FEED Kitchens on the city’s north side — a hub for food entrepreneurs and food businesses. She brings authentic, Southern soul food like fried chicken, black eyed peas and cornbread to Madison. Beyond the traditional menu, Carmell has expanded to include vegan options, desserts and special food requests to fit everyone’s palate. Melly Mell’s caters weddings, office parties and more, with party sizes ranging from 4 to 600 people.
Before becoming a business owner, Carmell worked for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transition Education Program, where she taught and cooked with kids experiencing homelessness. Carmell credits her father, who was a chef in the Air Force, for the idea for her business — and keeps his memory alive with Melly Mell’s.
Melly Mell’s Soul Food