Sunday, August 9, 2009

Interview with Melissa d'Arabian Part 1

This is part one of a two part series on Melissa d'Arabian.

Melissa d'Arabian is like a lot of stay at home moms except for the one thing that now sets her apart: She just won season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. Her new show Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian premieres today at 12:30 ET/ 11:30 CT.

On Friday I participated in a phone conference call with Melissa and several other "Mommy Bloggers" giving us the opportunity get to know her a little better. She was very eager talk to us and said she feels a connection to other mothers. She hopes to take her vast and varied experiences and use them to make not only delicious and luxurious meals, but budget friendly ones as well.

I admit that I am very eager to see her new show. I watched the entire season of NFNS and loved her immediately. I'm not the only one. Everyone I have talked to loves her. Her lack of culinary training makes us feel less intimidated and her enthusiasm and bubbly personality makes us feel like she's our girl friend. (I would totally meet her for a chat at Starbucks!) But as Melissa answered our questions with such honesty and enthusiasm, I realized that I was getting more out of our chat than just an "interview." I was learning some lessons in life according to Melissa d'Arabian.

1) Everything Happens For A Reason

Melissa's mother died when Melissa was a 20 year old college student. Melissa threw herself into her education and career but always wanted a family. When she hit 30 all her friends were surprised she wasn't married and having kids. She was even more surprised but she hadn't met "the one" yet. A few years later, she met her husband and had children, planning to be a working mother. Her third pregnancy resulted in twins, forcing her to bed rest. She decided at that point to become a stay at home mom and planned to go back to work when her twins turned two.

In the meantime, Melissa was speaking to women's groups giving tips and techniques to cut their grocery bills up 60-70%. It was at these groups that Melissa shared her tips for making homemade yogurt and created a video to send out showing how to make yogurt in your garage. Around that time, The Next Food Network Star was taking applications. After a lot of thought and discussion, Melissa and her husband decided that she should send her yogurt video in for her audition video.

2) Follow Your Dreams

Melissa knew by the numbers alone that it was a long shot that she would get accepted to the show, let alone win. She saw having her own show as an opportunity to share all her shopping tips and cooking tips with other women. More importantly, she saw that being a mommy didn't have to be her sole identity. She could be a mommy and live her dream too.

3) Be True to Who You Are

In the first two episodes Melissa admits to being intimidated by the culinary trained contestants around her. It clearly affected her performance. Then she realized that she needed to be true to who she was. She had to bring what she had to the table and not worry about everyone else. Once she started to do that the real Melissa began to shine. I loved it when she told the chefs at her dinner party presentation "I might fail, but I'm failing at the right thing." How many of us can say that?

Melissa's passion for what she does is so tangible, success should easily follow.

Tomorrow Part two will feature Melissa's tips for cooking for and with kids.

** Photo courtesy of Food Network


JD said...

This post caught my eye... I don't often watch the food network channel, in fact, I only watch it when I vacation with my best friend in Ohio. It's on at their house 24/7, LOL.

I had seen Melissa in the show while we were away, and I loved her, felt like I/we as moms could really identify with her, and hoped she would win. Then, I came home, and had no idea if she won or not, couldn't remember the name of the show, and couldn't ask my friend, as she was on vacation...

Then, I tuned in to your post.

ROCK ON, Melissa -- you go girl! You are inspiring, real, and I wish you much success.

Denise -- can't wait for Part Two!! Good job!

Nancy said...

Loved this post, Denise. You know she said on the show that her mother committed suicide...had to make it all the harder on her. I dvr'd her show this a.m. and can't wait to see it. I love that girl.

~Issy said...

Denise, loved this post!

I'm a Food Network girl...i love that channel. It's like porn for me...of course, my weight shows that, too, lol.

Melissa was so interesting to watch-i loved watching her. I'm so glad to learn more about her and will watch her!

Brandy said...

Dang! I missed her show today. Guess I should have checked to see what time it came on. Ah well, I'll look for the rerun or try to find it online.

Sounds like she was very open during the interview, which is one of the reasons why I liked her so much. Did you get any inside tips on how to go to Paris every year?

Jill said...

I did not watch this time and am so sorry that I didn't! I will look forward to seeing this chick's show!