March 2, 2024

TOGM restaurant

Eat Your Food

Software engineer with passion for cooking keeps family legacy alive with food truck

Melissa Gardner’s family has always had a passion for cooking.   

“My grandmother and my mom taught me how to cook,” Gardener explained. 

Gardner is known as ‘Chef Melly’ and her unusual journey to the culinary world started by selling dinners on the streets of south St. Petersburg to help pay her college tuition. 

“I would just open up a tent and go to 9th street right here, 9th street south, and I would cook out of a tent,” she shared. 

The money helped. ‘Chef Melly’ graduated from St. Petersburg College a few years ago with a degree in Information Technology Management. 

“Once I got my degree I went right into the food truck,” Gardner said. 

She named it Three Generations Food Truck in honor of her grandmother and mom. 

“I have to keep the legacy going,” Gardner explained. “She never owned a restaurant. She always wanted to own a restaurant. She was in childcare. Being able to take her recipes and mix them with my own and bring them to the community that’s why I really started the food truck.” 

This past Christmas ‘Chef Melly’ and her family teamed up with Florida Blue and Feeding Tampa Bay’s Trinity Café to provide 500 meals for people in need. 

“I never spend my Christmas working, but this year I was able to spend my Christmas working with my family in one location and giving back to someone else and it was awesome,” she said.  

‘Chef Melly’ says her gourmet food truck has something for every foodie. 

“You can come and get you old fashion bacon, eggs, and grits, with a biscuit or toast, or you can take it up a notch and a lobster, shrimp and cajun fries,” she explained. 

Three Generation Food Truck cooking with passion and love in the St. Petersburg community. ‘Chef Melly’ just brought two more food trucks and is opening up a restaurant in St Petersburg next month. 

Learn more about Three Generations Food Truck here

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