Aryen Moore-Alston, 31, is a self-taught cook who was raised abroad in Italy. She has dabbled in many careers, but food has always been her passion, and some of her fondest childhood memories involve making family meals in the kitchen with her father, who passed away when she was young. After living in Atlanta, Japan and Los Angeles, Aryen settled in Memphis to raise her daughter. Read on below to hear from Aryen, and learn about her style of cooking and her thoughts on the competition.
Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Aryen: The experience. I feel like if you don't enjoy the journey, it will all go so fast. … I'm really excited. I'm blessed and humbled to be here. And I know that all of this is going into making me shine. I enjoy the process.
Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view in one sentence.
Aryen: My culinary point of view is international cuisine in the comfort of your own home.
How did you prepare for the competition?
Aryen: At first, I pulled out all the recipes I had from my father to my mom, my friend's nonna. I pulled them all in. And then I stopped. … I was on brain overload, and I just stopped. I said: "This is ridiculous. I either know it now. I mean, what am I going to do? Cram it?" … It's preparation. … So all my life, all this time. Cooking in different countries, and learning about different cuisines and living in different countries, I realized I have what it takes. I already know the stuff, so I was overthinking it.
Which mentor are you most excited to learn from?
Aryen: Not one more than the other because, each in their own right, they know what they're doing. They're old hats at this. They've been in the business longer than I've been alive, technically. I want to learn from them, because I can grow regardless of whether it's with Food Network or without Food Network. They each are very important in the culinary world, and I can gain anything from them.
Which mentor do you find to be the most intimidating?
Aryen: All three of them actually are very well known, very respected and equally intimidating, but I feel like I can compete. Not on their level — yet. But I feel like I can learn from them.
What is one thing you most want to convey to the judges about you, your food or your would-be show on Food Network?
Aryen: I felt like an American in Europe and a European in America, and so I've always felt like I existed outside of a box. … And so my culinary point of view reflects that. It's OK if you've never been to Puerto Rico; it's OK if you've never been to France. You can create that food in your kitchen. You can create that experience even if you've never owned a passport. … I have a unique perspective on the world. And my outlook has always been broad, so I'm hoping that they'll see that I'm not all over the place; I'm really focused. I hope they see that, because I really do have a great, fresh perspective on international cuisine.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with?
Aryen: I don't hate working with anything.
What's your guilty pleasure food?
Aryen: Pizza. I want to try pizza from all over.
What's your favorite late-night snack?
Aryen: Gummy bears
What's one must-have at your last supper?
Aryen: Penne all'arrabbiata
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayo
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Both
Cream cheese or butter? Both
Coffee or tea? Coffee
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
White meat or dark? White
Cake or pie? Cake
Beer or wine? Wine
Waffles or pancakes? Pancakes
Click the play button on the video below to hear from more Aryen.
It's going to be a summer of heated competition as Food Network Star gears up for its most-explosive season yet, a 10th year of putting hopeful rivals through the job interview of their lives. To make it to August and ultimately land a sought-after television career — Food Network show host — finalists will have to impress mentor-judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis with the coveted combination of cooking chops and on-camera charm. Season 10 kicks off Sunday, June 1 at 9|8c, but before then, FN Dish is introducing fans to all of the contestants. This year's crop of competitors boasts business owners, executive chefs, world travelers and farm-to-table enthusiasts — not to mention fiery personalities, over-the-top entertainers and undeniable competitive spirits. Check back every day to meet another finalist, then learn more about each of them by checking out their casting videos.