Someone needs to give Melissa "Missy" Roe her own reality show. Missy has what most of those babes on the various Real Housewives shows don't have: a real life. She has a real job (Roe serves as chief of staff and legislative director for U.S. Congressman Sam Graves), a real crown (she was voted Mrs. Missouri USA in 2010) and a real blog. A food blog called the Perfect Bite: Kansas City.
Roe also has a powerful husband, Jeff Roe — a political consultant popular with right-wing candidates — a hefty man who looks like he hasn't ever missed a meal. Luckily, the lithe Missy shares his passion for food, but without any visible weight gain. (She exercises and eats sensibly when she's not dining out, she says.) But her passion for eating was the driving force behind the Perfect Bite. She explains it all on her blog site: "I’m always looking for that 'perfect bite.' Whether it’s the section of the burger where the toppings line up perfectly or the exact amount of fruit to top my bite of foie gras, somewhere there’s a balance combination that exceeds your expectations."
If you meet Missy, you'll understand why it's important to her that a burger's toppings line up perfectly. Missy is perfect. Her hair, her clothes, her posture, her engagingly self-deprecating sense of humor, her gleaming toothy smile. She's a perfect candidate to be followed everywhere by a camera crew: campaigning, eating, writing, eating ...
And please, don't confuse her with another kind-of-famous blonde with a similar name: Misty Rowe, the lisping comedienne on the old Hee Haw TV show. But they apparently both share an affinity for food. Misty Rowe has created a one-woman holiday show called A Misty Christmas ... Finally a Fruitcake You'll Like.
Missy Roe, unlike many other local food bloggers, has actually worked in the restaurant business. She was a waitress at the Yia Yia's restaurant in Wichita while majoring in communications at Wichita State. Her classmate Aaron Confessori — owner of Westport Cafe & Bar and the Boot — remembers her wearing her starched Oxford shirt and apron, leaving campus to start her shift at the restaurant. After college, Roe worked as a TV news reporter for station KMIZ in Columbia, Missouri, covering crime and the courts.
"But I had always loved politics," Missy says. She joined the Sam Graves staff in 2005. She met her future husband while working for Graves; Roe served as chief of staff for Sam Graves until 2005, when he left to form his consulting firm, Axiom Strategies.
"Jeff is my biggest champion," Missy says. "He was the reason I started my blog. I was posting things I had written about food and restaurants on my Facebook page and taking my own photos. Jeff said, 'You need to start a food blog.' So he built a blog with my name on it, and I took it from there."
The Perfect Bite: Kansas City is sort of an online memoir of one woman's search. Not for the meaning of life, but something a little more earthy: "I’m continually searching for an amazing new food experience," Roe writes. "That’s really all you need to know — small-town girl now indulging in Kansas City’s culinary offerings and beyond. No authority on food here. I just want to partake in the feast!"
Of course, Missy wants to partake in the feast. The native of Tyrone, Oklahoma (population 1,000), wasn't exposed to a variety of culinary possibilities as a girl. The restaurant choices were few: Pizza Hut, El Amigo Chavez and the Hong Kong. "It was the only Asian restaurant in town that wasn't a buffet," she says.
The Perfect Taste: Kansas City blog offers up Roe's observations on the local restaurant scene. She doesn't pretend to have a definitive view (her writing style is girlish, honest and unpretentious), but she knows what she likes. And if she doesn't, well damn it, she says so! Describing the Buttermilk Cider Chicken at Thomas Restaurant, Roe writes that the boneless breast was "covered in a light melty cheese, likely swiss." Roe also writes that it was "a very nice dish I would order again, but probably not drive across town to get."
"You could get a little more critical," I suggested.
"I'm just now learning how to voice what I felt and experienced at a meal," she said.
But Missy Roe has learned the art of diplomacy in her political career. She might not drive all the way across town (the Roes live near Liberty) to eat Buttermilk Cider Chicken in midtown for a second time. But then again ... she might.
This sense of diplomacy served her well when she took on the Mrs. USA Missouri Pageant. Her personal trainer goaded her into it, but Missy is nothing if not competitive. On very short notice, Roe entered the pageant, pulled a suit and an evening gown out of her closet, and drove to St. Joseph, Missouri, for the event. It was only when she was actually onstage, answering questions posed by the panel of judges, that she had an epiphany: "What am I doing here?" She was voted second runner-up.
Her success in 2009 inspired Missy to enter the pageant again the following year. This time she was determined to win. She did. It propelled her to the Mrs. United States National Pageant in Las Vegas ("The Premiere Pageant for Married Women") where she tied for 13th place. Mrs. Mississippi won the crown.
As political campaigns begin heating up this summer — Graves is running for re-election — Roe realizes that she may not have time to post on her blog every day.
"During Restaurant Week, I was posting every day," Roe says. "But typically it's three or four times a week. But the work I do can require long hours. That cuts into the free time I have for writing about restaurants."
But as long as there are "amazing new food experiences" out there, Missy Roe is out searching for them. And looking perfect.