The junior publicist, Michelle, chimed in to let us (it was a conference call with 5 other Mommy bloggers) know that Melissa was about to join us. My palms started to sweat and sheer panic overtook me. I was informed that I was first in line and was allowed three questions. Three? I prepared almost ten questions! I began to panic even more. Which questions do I ask? I’m first, they better be good! Then there was the chime and Michelle informed us that Melissa was now on the line. Oh goodness, here we go!
You could feel Melissa’s energy the moment she said “hello” and I was instantly at ease. I felt like I was talking to a girlfriend that I hadn’t heard from in a while. Melissa immediately delved into her background (as if I wasn’t online all week looking up info on her) and mentioned that she “had been so looking forward to talking with the Mommy bloggers”. Us too Melissa, us too! Melissa was asked to talk about her new show, which starts today at 12:30pmEST on Food Network and this is what she had to say about Ten Dollar Dinners:
Melissa: “As you know as the winner of Next Food Network Star I got to have my own TV show and the show is coming out on Sunday, it’s Ten Dollar Dinners. I think the real magic of Ten Dollar Dinners is that I’m going to be able to take my experiences as a stay at home mom of four little girls, and my experiences as a working parent, and also my experiences as a career woman who you know worked 80 or 90 hours a week and then would have a dinner party for my girlfriends on a Thursday night and I needed to get that on the table. I’m going to bring all of those experiences to my recipes for Ten Dollar Dinners, and I really believe that Ten Dollar Dinners should feel great. I want to feel empowered when I save money, so I love it when I leave the grocery store and I’ve got a receipt that I can show my husband and can be like ‘We got $300 worth of groceries for $72′! Like how cool is that? And I want to feel like I’m serving delicious, wonderful food, that nourishes not only our bodies but our souls. So if it’s not fun, if it’s not feeling good, I don’t want to do it. So I think people are going to be surprised by the recipes that we see on Ten Dollar Dinners, and I think people who even aren’t on a budget are going to want to make the recipes, and that’ my goal.”
Melissa: “Gosh, having twins has been one of my greatest blessings. And I have to admit when I got pregnant with my third pregnancy in a little over two years and there was a little part of me that was like ‘OK been there done that’, you know, then when I found out I was having twins I thought ‘Oh! Haven’t been there, haven’t done that’! So it’s keeping it exciting! I love watching my girls interact with one another. And whether that be you know with the twins or with the big girls. I love that my big girls, and by big I mean four and three, I love the way they each divvy up the babies. You know, along the lines of, ‘Oh Charlotte, do you want Margaux to be your baby today and I’ll take Océane?’ and the next day it will be ‘Well you had Margaux yesterday, I’m going to have Océane today’. So I love that each of my big sisters, you know my little girls who are the big sisters, they each have their own baby and the four of them together is just so special and fun. There is for me as a parent nothing more special than watching my children love one another. You know, they have to love me, right? I’m the one who fed them and that’s just a very natural instinct for them to love me. But to watch them love one another is by far my favorite part of parenting.”
Phew! Thinking we would be doing this round robin style I took a deep breath and sat back in my chair. Then Michelle told me to just go ahead and ask my other two questions. Ah! Which other questions. You could hear me flipping through my papers and then I did the dreaded “Uhhhh mmmmm” before I asked, “What is your favorite meal to make for your whole family?”
Melissa: “One of my favorite meals is the meal you will see on Sunday on Ten Dollar Dinners! I make a potato-bacon torte, which my husband just loves! I actually got the idea from my Mother in law, because you know only in France will they take potatoes and put them into a butter pastry! But I love that recipe because it feels luxurious and tastes so silky and so flavorful and satisfying. Even a little bit goes a long way. And this recipe I actually made on Next Food Network Star when I did my thousand dollar dinner party. The torte was actually all these chef’s, it was one of their favorite dishes they had that day. At a thousand dollar dinner party they had no idea that what I was serving them was pennies a plate! So that’s the kind of cooking that I want to do on Ten Dollar Dinners. I want to make something for my family or for my friends that I would serve at even a thousand dollar dinner party, and still impress.”
Are you hungry yet? I know I am! (Click HERE for the link to the recipe just mentioned!) My last question for Melissa was about her “no, thank you” bite rule in her house, here’s what Melissa had to say:
Melissa: “The no thank you bite stems as the answer to the problem I had which was I wanted my kids to eat vegetables and I wanted them to try new things. I want them to have the willingness to try new things. At the same time, it’s a delicate balance, because I also want them to learn to respect their own opinions and to understand that their opinions matter even at a young age. So this was the good compromise, and the rule is you are welcome to say you don’t care for something as long as you have had one bite. For me that fits our family because I wanted my kids to have the willingness to try things. That was more important to me than getting them to, you know, stomach a big hunk of broccoli. This seems to be a solution that works really well for us. And my three year old Charlotte, who is super finicky, I have found that, I can’t believe it, but after all this time of the no thank you bite, she actually just automatically eats at least one bite of everything on her plate. And I’m telling you she blew me away because she is finicky, and she would do it without being asked. What more can I ask for? Someone who will actually just automatically take a bite of everything on her plate, like at three? That’s awesome!”
And there it was, my fifteen glorious minutes with Melissa d’Arabian of Ten Dollar Dinners. At that point I was able to sit back and listen to her chat with the other moms about how to make cooking fun (let the kids pick out something from the produce department and then make a meal around it), her Next Food Network Star “confession” (she wore the same outfit for three days to get one shot) and advice for others that want to audition for next season (be yourself and don’t pretend to be someone you are not). Her excitement was genuine and palpabile and the feeling was mutual with all the moms that interviewed her. Thank you, Melissa, for allowing me to interview you, and I cannot wait to watch your show today! I hope you all tune into Ten Dollar Dinners at 12pmEST on Food Network.
Which now brings us to our question of the week (you didn’t think I forgot, did you?):
What is your favorite recipe to make with/for your family?
Be sure to grab the button, include the recipe and sign Mr. Linky!