Janna Melkonian is a lifelong vegetarian with boundless energy and a talent for cooking. So it’s no wonder why this human Energizer Bunny called her new food-based business Rappit Up.
Melkonian, who works as a professional photographer as well as a receptionist at a hair salon, launched her meal service and catering company a year ago after she started making vegetarian meals for a co-worker.
“Suddenly, everyone was saying, ‘That looks so good, I’d love to try it,’ ” she says. “So I brought more.”
Before long, even the UPS delivery guy was ordering meals. And we aren’t talking boiled tofu.
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Melkonian, 26, who uses a commercial kitchen, loves to combine flavor, texture, color and nutrition in her meals. She uses seasonal vegetables and homemade sauces.
Melkonian credits her grandmother, Janneta Sogomonian, and parents, Ara and Tiroui Melkonian, all lifelong vegetarians, for her knowledge of food and cooking.
“I am very grateful to have been raised in a family that put so much importance on eating right when I was young,” Melkonian says. “That is what obviously got me to be so passionate about farm-to-table food.”
Melkonian’s signature dishes include tortilla wraps, rice bowls and salads that come with her homemade dressing. One of her most popular items is sweet fall salad, made with kale, chunks of roasted sweet potatoes, red peppers, onions, black beans, white quinoa, cilantro and her homemade red wine vinaigrette.
Another big seller is her tortilla wrap that’s filled with black beans – she cooks them herself – white basmati rice, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, avocado and sea salt.
All of her wraps can be made vegan or gluten-free.
“She has really been changing my way of thinking about food,” said Claudette Hayes, an inspirational coach with LL Inspiration. “I grew up on meat and potatoes and I never knew vegetables could taste this good. Everything she does is so colorful and beautiful and it really tastes as good as it looks.”
Melkonian prides herself not just on the appearance of her meals – she posts often on her Instagram page, @littleveggierabbit – but also on the nutritional value.
Her meals are well balanced with vegetables and greens that are nutritionally dense and packed with protein.
Hillori Hansen, culinary specialist at Whole Foods Fresno, compliments Melkonian on her vegetarian cooking skills. Hansen says she appreciates how Melkonian makes vegetarian food look enticing.
“People don’t always know how to meld those flavors and ingredients to make a dish taste and look good,” Hansen says. “But Janna does. She combines nuts, grains and seeds to make a delicious meal.”
Melkonian’s goal is to continue creating vegetarian and vegan dishes while building her clientele and hopefully one day open a permanent location. In the meantime, she’s planning to teach a class on vegetarian cooking from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 18 at Whole Foods Fresno.
You can find Melkonian’s salads and wraps at Rio Acai Bowls, 1915 Fulton St. in Fresno. She will also host a sampling of her food at the restaurant Jan. 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you would like to order her meals, you can find her on Facebook under Rappit Up or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The meals range from $5 to $7.