A Chat with Melissa d’Arabian

by in View All Posts, August 14th, 2009

melissa_resize_for-webMelissa d’Arabian may be a Food Network Star, but let me tell you – she’s as real as they come. Between hosting Ten Dollar Dinners and taking care of her four little girls, she’s always on the move. Even still, she made time to chat with me about her new show, the big move to Seattle, and life after The Next Food Network Star.

Secretary Confidential: Can you give us a little sneak peek into Ten Dollar Dinners?

Melissa d’Arabian: I’m really excited about sharing my braised pork and black beans. That is actually a recipe from what I call “bean night,” which is really “inexpensive protein night.” At least one night a week I’ll make something that incorporates budget ingredients, like pork shoulder and black beans. It’s a great way to cut my grocery bill, but the dish still feels special. I used this recipe for a dinner party for 30 women and it cost me $58.

SC: What was it like watching the first episode of your own show?

MD: I watched it with my kids, which is half watching and half dealing with making sure everybody is happy in the living room. The funny thing is my kids kept saying, “It’s just Mommy. Where is Jen? Mommy, where is Jamika? Where is Michael? Is Michael still in New York?” They wanted to know why it was just me, and it was fun trying to explain why. They asked me, “Where is Bobby Flay?” My 3-year-old, Charlotte, is convinced that Bobby Flay is her new best friend.


SC: Have you kept in touch with anyone from The Next Food Network Star?

MD: Absolutely! We all have an e-mail thread going. We all are sort of loosely keeping in touch. Jeffery, he is probably the person I’m in touch with the most because we spent so much time together. Absolutely. There is a bond that forms that no one else can really understand.

SC: You recently moved to Seattle – how’s your new life there?

MD: If I could just get these boxes unpacked! It’s crazy. Seattle is amazing. The people of Kirkland have been so amazing and so warm. This is a great city for food. I’m really enjoying getting to know the area and exploring the farmer’s markets. We have a great market at the beach just near our house, and I’m really looking forward to exploring those flavors even more and incorporating them into some neat recipes.

SC: Why did you move to Seattle?

MD: It was such a source of excitement and speculation when we put our house up for sale. My neighbors were wondering, “Why are they moving? Did she win? Did she not win? What does this mean?” It was really just as simple as my husband got a great job offer.

SC: Have you had a moment when it suddenly dawns on you that you are a celebrity?

MD: Sometimes when I’m waiting in line at the store someone will come up and say, “Oh my goodness, the Food Network Star! Love your show!” So that’s been a lot of fun, but what cracks me up is that people want to have their picture taken with me. Or sometimes people will recognize me from the show and they will come up to me and say “Hi, Melissa!” and my first thought is, “Did we go to high school together? How do we know each other?”

SC: What is the one piece of advice you would give to fans out there who dream of hosting their own show?

MD: I think one lesson that I learned throughout The Next Food Network Star is really looking to myself and thinking, “What do I bring to the table?” Why should I try to mimic somebody else or try to make up for the fact that I didn’t go to culinary school? Instead, I really need to focus on what I have: my experiences as a stay-at-home mom, my experiences as a career woman, my experiences cutting my own grocery bill by more than half. So, I bring that to the table. I celebrate that. I call that playing a game I can win.

Be sure to catch new episodes of Ten Dollar Dinners. Sundays at 12:30pm/11:30c.

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Comments (193)

  1. Tina Marie says:

    I can not believe this artificial creme puff won the competition and what is even more unvelievable is that they really put her on a network show! Get her off of there please! She is proof positive that being a good chef does not require above average intelligence. The judges that chose this airhead must have some of the lowest IQ's in the cooking world!

  2. catrina says:

    Hey Melissa! Congratulations for moving to the Jewel of the Northwest! I am a Seattle native, born and raised. Even tho I am living elsewhere at this time, I am still very proud of my birth city! Kirkland is a lovely area but if you want a big, wonderful, noisy, full of life market, check out Pike Place Market down on the Seattle Waterfront. You won't have any problem finding it. Just play tourist! Everyone knows where it is! LOL. Beware of the flying fish! LOL and don't forget to check out Mario Batali's father's place right near the market! You are going to love the Northwest. Don't let the rain bother you! Why do you think they call it the EVERGREEN state? LOL

  3. asunburst says:

    Not only Brian is gone, but so is Melissa. I am wondering what the heck FN is doing. Temporary shows?
    Since Melissa and Brian are gone, will Jeffrey get a try for real?

    Just as we settled in on Sunday's to watch Brian, Poof he was gong. I didn't see that coming nor did I see FN announce it was just a 4 part show.

    It's not fun being messed with. OTOH I was very pleased to see Chopped last longer than the original show. This is a good thing. And using Mz Butter Sad Sack less as a judge is too. One thing I don't like oh Judged shows is the judges acting like executioners. Come on FN these shows should be fun for everyone. Lighten up your judges on New Network Star too. FN isn't a drama channel.
    I had to post all over the place here as I haven't found a general Q&A spot on FN yet.

  4. Anne says:

    Love Melissa, not sure about the show. What I liked about her on NFNS was all her ingenious tips. She could have a show just featuring her tips. I too would like her apple tart recipe and cream cheese pastry recipe she did on NFNS.

    • asunburst says:

      Seems her show didn't make it or maybe FN will bring it back later. Suddenly it was gone with no explanation. FN is good at leaving it's watchers up in the air. Brian's is gone too. Both of their recipes are on FN the last time I looked. Look at their Bio's and for recipes. I have seen them and printed up Brian's. Jeffery's too.

    • asunburst says:

      Seems her show didn't make it or maybe FN will bring it back later. Suddenly it was gone with no explanation. FN is good at leaving it's watchers up in the air. Brian's is gone too. Both of their recipes are on FN the last time I looked. Look at their Bio's and for recipes. I have seen them and printed up Brian's. Jeffery's too.

      • arty says:

        Her show did make it. It was renewed for a second season which will begin in January.

      • gigi07 says:

        It made it. The "prize" for NFNS was a six show contract. All six shows aired. Her show was renewed and will be back in January 2010 according to the show webpage.

        • asunburst says:

          Yep, I went to see it myself. Tis true.

          I also found Bob Teshmans blog which says to talk about Jeffrey here:
          0 Comments yet. I made one but it has to be approved before posting.

          • gigi07 says:

            Yea, I tried to post there when it first went up. Something is wrong with Bob's Blog. Nothing ever posts. It all started when FN switched to Intense Debates to moderate.

          • asunburst says:

            Seems they don't care. If they get a lot of feedback for Jeffrey they might have to do more, like give him a show? ;)

          • luvcookin says:

            I agree, it appears that FN doesn't care. Have you noticed that there are no boards to comment on Next Iron Chef?

          • asunburst says:

            Since I don't like the regular Iron Chef, I happened upon this new exciting one by accident and love it. I wonder why FN doesn't promote on here as I seldom tune into FN anymore. Same with the Chopped Cook off one. I like it too. No real promo's on other channels like HGTV, FL etc
            I come here every time I get an e mail notice. But I don't see anything outstanding in the way of announcing new shows or renewed ones. It's as if Brian Boitano was a dream and they wont give Jeffrey a show because they stubbornly have to stand behind Melissa. What's wrong with two new shows? He doesn't have to be advertised and any part of the New Food Network Star.

  5. Maria says:

    Congratulations on your win Melissa, however……I feel that you had much more personality during the competition than you have on your own show. You appear to be a bit robot like on your show as if you are a bit nervous, tentative, or careful. Loosen up, because you have a great personality, and I felt the judges gave you comments to try and squash that because they said it was a little over the top. I like over the top, and I think that that is what makes the Neely's, Paula Dean, and Rachel Ray work. Just be yourself, and don't let the cameras wash out your personality!….Good luck, I will try and catch your shows when I can!

  6. luvcookin says:

    Caught the new season of Melissa's show today. I thought it was great. She's much more calm since she got those first 6 shows behind her. Good job Melissa!

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