Name: Janelle Bentley
Hometown: Coney Island, New York
Janelle’s Shameless Plug: @janellebentley on Instagram!
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The Scrunchie Club: Janelle!! We’re so excited to be chatting with you today!
Janelle: Of course!
TSC:Tell us about your journey and how you came to join the NYC foodie community!
JB: In 2017 I was working in events and it was very hectic - I wanted an outlet for myself. I started off with a podcast called “We Brunch”. At first, we recorded the podcast in my friend’s apartments and we just talked through what places we liked to go to brunch and why we liked brunch so much. It took a while to find the structure of the podcast - it was a thing I wanted to do for myself. Eventually, I reached out to other foodies in New York City and I met so many cool people. We also started to get offers to go to different restaurants, which helped provide structure for the episodes. We’d talk about the meal we were eating, and rate the meal, brunch places people should go to, and also other things that were going on in life, fun tips, etc. It was a really fun thing to do for 3 years.
With COVID-19, it wasn’t feasible to keep meeting up in restaurants anymore, and I also missed working with video, so I started an IGTV series called “Let’s Dish”. It’s really nice doing the video series because I can reach out to people all over the country and worldwide. For “Let’s Dish”, I reach out to foodies and ask them questions (the series was inspired byVogue’s 73 Questions series) and it’s nice to get to know people more. It’s a real joy - I love doing it and it keeps me busy.
TSC: In non-pandemic times, what would be your perfect day of NYC food consist of?
JB: This is a hard decision because I love food!
I’d have brunch at Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn - I love their pancakes.
My dinner of choice would be mafaldini shrimp pasta with garlic sauce fromScampi in the Flatiron District.
For dessert, I’d have a lemon custard tart with ice cream from Olio e Piú in Greenwich Village. I love a lemon tart, and a side of ice cream is always a plus.
TSC: For some context for the readers at home, Janelle and I originally met a few years ago, while we were taking improv classes at Magnet Theater in NYC. Janelle - how do you think improv training has been valuable outside of the comedy world?
I miss doing improv so much - I still do it virtually with my team at the Magnet. I’ve always been a lively and outgoing person, but it has helped me have the courage to speak my mind. It also has helped me read the room and say things with purpose.
TSC: How do you treat yourself with kindness?
JB: It’s taken me a while to love myself for who I am. I’m always trying to uplift others, and I don’t want to make myself feel less than. For myself, I try not to be negative too much, but giving yourself those emotions is not a bad thing. You don’t have to be positive all the time - you have to be realistic. I try to give myself that kindness - everything isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Especially for me, as a Black woman - I don’t want to make myself feel like I can’t be the person I want to be because of the color of my skin.
Also, making sure I have people around me that motivate me and elevate me - over the years I’ve realized that there are certain people that shouldn’t be in my life because I’m giving them everything they need but they aren’t really doing that for me. People have told me over that years that it’s okay to be selfish and really care about yourself. I should be doing stuff that’s for me.
TSC: What’s your favorite 90s (or early 2000s) television show?
JB: Spongebob Squarepants!
TSC: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Janelle!
You can follow Janelle on Instagram @janellebentley, where you can watch her IGTV series, “Let’s Dish”. You can also learn more about Janelle on her website.