Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season on July 2. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.
I feel a bond to each of the finalists, so I’m offering a little BTDT (been-there-done-that) insight, hoping to give the very advice (wisdom?) that I would have loved my first day on set.
10. Expect to cook. Immediately.
Anytime after the flight attendant tells you to put away your electronic devices is probably fair game. Wear something comfortable (or at least safe) for racing around in a crowded kitchen. Yes, I’m looking at you, Penny. And be practical: With 10 episodes to shoot and three outfits per episode (count them), you’ve got a logistical challenge on your hands. You cannot afford to allocate space to anything that can’t be reasonably worn in the kitchen.
9. 45 is the new 20.
Forty-five minutes sounds like an eternity to cook one dish, right? And it is — at home. Forget what you think you know about time. Forty-five minutes is nothing.
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Crunch time is here, and it has nothing to do with breakfast cereal for dinner. Poor Serena belted out the tunes but didn't strike a chord with the Selection Committee. Pasta la vista, bella. Aria had a little memory lapse, forgetting her manners and interrupting Aarti, right when the team leader was introducing their course-by-course Supper Club extravaganza. (Hmm, wasn't Aria upset when Dzintra interrupted her a few weeks back?) Mano a mano, up next. Aarti came out fighting with a killer Green Chicken Curry after last week's dip, topping the challenge along with Brad, who brought his A-game cooking chops--and lamb chops. Who's your favorite? Tom, for his part, brought the salt. Too much of it, that is, according to Bob, Susie, Bobby and the food-loving diners who weren't loving the Unemployed Chef's salt(y) cod. Happy Herb was cooking this week but apparently needs to be a savvier shopper. (Susie, you're right. He saved cash for his team but almost took one for the team as a result.) Maybe grocery goddess Melissa d'Arabian, last year's Star winner and host of Ten Dollar Dinners, could help him--dazzling on-air this episode and online live tonight, offering up commentary and dinner ideas alike. Tell us which finalists' recipes you're making at home this week, then check out the chat transcript below for the way, the truth, the light--all sorts of fan fare, so to speak. Next swank Supper Club, Melissa's invited, and so are you.
Phew--the ante is up. A trio of famous chefs asked finalists to re-create the best thing they ever ate. A pile of hot, hot, hot peppers challenged Star wannabes. Chefs told tales of dads and moms and grandmothers. Dry eyes were scarce. Oh, Herb! A very judgy-judgmental Selection Committee was in the house. Big shoes, being worn (oh, Brianna) and hoping to be filled. Melissa d'Arabian talked live with Star fans about her out-of-this-world world nearly a year later. "I still get stressed watching this!!" she said. "NFNS was an amazing experience, even beside the winning, but phew...it was a tough one. Really showed you what you are made of." Some finalists are made of rock starness--Justin Timberlake (ish) took to the deep fryer. And tons of chatters bid on one finalist or another, guessing at winners and losers. I tear up at the drama. Who're you betting on? Take comfort--as in fried chicken or mac and cheese--as you revisit the pre-July 4 fireworks. Then tell us what you really think.
We're at the jumping off point for the all-new season of The Next Food Network Star. A new season means new finalists, new challenges, new recipes and ultimately, a new Food Network star. Everyone at the Food Network offices loves this time of year. It’s such an exciting time for everyone involved with the show.
But before we leap forward, let’s take a quick look back at the summer of 2009.
Our Season 5 Star winner was none other than Melissa d'Arabian. She and Jeffrey Saad were the last two remaining finalists in the nail-biting season finale. As you well know, Melissa has gone on to host the hugely successful Ten Dollar Dinners and is shooting yet another season of the hit show as I type this. Jeffrey hasn't exactly left the Food family, himself. He has contributed heavily to our Cooking From the Pantry series on FoodNetwork.com.
Remember Debbie Lee? Wow, she was quite the attention-getter. Some of you loved her, some of you loved to hate on her, but no matter your feelings, you couldn't help but talk about Debbie. If you want to catch up with her and all the other finalists from last season (and all the other seasons), check out our Where Are They Now? feature.
Who will be The Next Food Network Star for 2010 and have their life changed forever? I don’t know, but I'm excited to move forward and see!
- Melissa d'Arabian, host of Ten Dollar Dinners and Season 5 winner, has tips for Star hopefuls.
If you were cast as a finalist for The Next Food Network Star, wouldn't you want to know what works with Bob and Susie? And what Bobby Flay is really like when he comes into the kitchen and you're frantically trying to represent your true culinary point of view? And whether you should act larger than life or (warning: here comes the cliche) be yourself?
There's no need to mess around with guesswork; instead go to a reliable source. Like Melissa d'Arabian. Melissa, winner of The Next Food Network Star season 5, has been uberbusy with creating recipes and producing her show Ten Dollar Dinners and traveling and talking to fans and, oh-by-the-way, being a wife and mom to four young daughters. But she found a few minutes to sit down and share how she feels a year later, plus her advice for the twelve Season 6 Star finalists.
"They really need to trust that they are enough," Melissa says, "... to know who they are, put their arms around that, celebrate it, and bring it to the table." See what else Melissa said, then check out her top recipes and visit her Facebook page. Read more »