Melissa Gets Nostalgic in Her New Season, Welcomes Her First Guests

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 12th, 2012

melissa d'Arabian
Melissa d’Arabian is returning this Sunday to Food Network with an all-new season of Ten Dollar Dinners, and her fans are in for a treat. We sat down with the queen of creative, budget-friendly eats to talk about the new season, her first guests and even a couple of little-known facts about herself.

What are you looking forward to the most with this new season?

MD: Ten Dollar Dinners has become sort of an accidental diary of my life. I prepare six months in advance for every season I tape and since I don’t see them until they air, they become a snapshot of my life.

This season was really inspired by my childhood — the time I spent in Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California Since moving back to San Diego last year, I think it’s reawakened that part of my life. It’s a celebration of my childhood and the memories that were created around food. For example, this season I make homemade tortillas, arroz con pollo and empanadas, which we made all the time when I was growing up. There will always be a part of me on the plate this season.

I can honestly say this season was the most fun to shoot. Even though it was hard work, it was so gratifying.

I heard a rumor that you welcomed your first guests on the show this year. Can you share with us who that was?

MD: My kids! My two oldest girls, Valentine and Charlotte, cooked a delicious brunch with me — the twins, Margaux and Oceane, and my husband, Philippe, sat down toward the end of the episode to eat with us.

To have them come to the set, which they call the New York playroom, was just so exciting for them and so special for me.  They ran around Food Network studios — they couldn’t have loved it more. They even got their hair and makeup done and got to see all the clothes and jewelry.

It was great to share that experience with them. When they’re not with me, I travel with some of their stuffed animals. When I’m filming, I’ll place them somewhere on the set so when my kids are watching, they try and find their stuffed animals. It’s the “Where’s Waldo?” of Ten Dollar Dinners.

Little-known facts about Melissa:

1. Her first national TV experience was a small role on General Hospital

2. Living in L.A., it’s common to be on game shows (and a good way to make some extra money) and when she was in her twenties, she was on two: Hollywood Squares and The Dating Game

3. Goat cheese — she won’t eat it.

4. She worked on cruise ships originally as a purser. But one night when one of the singers got sick, she found herself filling in and singing “We Are the World” in the Mediterranean. She later became a part of the entertainment staff.

5. She wants to be on Dancing with the Stars. Her husband is a great dancer and she says, “I don’t dance as well. So it’s my dream to dance better. I could be good — I’m a quick study.”

Mark your calendars for Sunday, July 15 at 10am/9c to catch the season premiere of Ten Dollar Dinners.

Stay up-to-date with Melissa by visiting her Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also pre-order a copy of her debut cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners, right now.

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Comments (30)

  1. Celeste says:

    I am so excited to watch your new season, especially after hearing you speak this past weekend in St. Louis. You are such an inspiration to women everywhere. Also, I love your fennel and cabbage slaw and have made it for 3 different cookouts/potlucks this summer. LITB!

  2. Keith says:

    Congratulations on your new season. You may be the last remaining informative program that acturally demontrates REAL FOOD PREPERATION remaining on the Food Network I better set my DVD recorder before the network moves you to the Cooking Channel. So dissappointed they moved hungry girl, secrets of a restraunt chef, etc off the regular weekend programing. I miss Chef Alex. Where are all the cooking shows on FN for people like me – beginner cooks!!! I dont like cookbooks, I need to see someone demonstrate and teach me how to cook real food.

  3. Ronnie says:

    I love your show, Melissa. I have not ever had a bad recipe from you and my favorite is the couscous with dried apricots. I can't quit eating it. Eager for the new cook book and I will see you in Costa Mesa, CA in August. Hey, I like Jeffery too but you are the bomb and should have won because having you in my home is like having a friend over. A lot of cooks can cook, but not all can make the connection you do, like Bobby and Alex. Bon season!

  4. Guest says:

    I don't know what planet you all live on, but there is no way that any of those dinners can be made by only spending ten dollars on one person, let alone 4.

  5. Maria says:

    Hi Melissa. I have to say that I happened to be downloading your recipe for Garlicy Swiss Chard today and I noticed it was one of yours, so that got me started looking for more. You see, you were my sister Katy's roommate back at Georgetown and of course we were all happy to hear that you have your own show now. Complimenti! So I have to say that although I haven't tried cooking any of your recipes yet, they all sound lovely, my favorite recipe so far is the one that you served when I was visiting Katy, I believe it was a whole roasted chicken with fresh whole herbs and roasted veggies on the side. You certainly had the signs of being a great cook back then and I wish you the best of luck on your bright new career! Maria

  6. maigan says:

    I dont know where to post this but it has to be said…. FOODNETWORK get a oriental chef on foodnetwork tv… I want to learn how to cook my favorite Chinese dishes!!!! It hasn't been done yet and I am waiting impatiently! lol

  7. Susan says:

    I think Melissa d'Arabian is a total genius; every time I watch her, I learn something new, some tip or technique; and her suggestions on how to save money are genius too! The "manager's special" red tag thing really exists! you need a freezer tho! She's my favorite food network person.

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