10 Questions: Melissa D'Arabian, Food Network Contestant

Categories: Ten Questions

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When contestants for the upcoming series of The Next Food Network Star were announced, she was labeled the 'stay at home mom.'

Indeed, the Keller resident tends to four young children--which, of course, means cooking three meals a day, just about every day of the week. Producers for the show apparently found something in her approach to balancing dishes for kids and adults, budgeting and making a good dinner.

D'Arabian has traveled quite a bit, too. And she knows how to tweak standard family recipes. She's also not afraid to prepare her kids' favorite dish for, oh, the likes of Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown...

1. What is Bobby Flay really like? I am a huge Bobby Flay fan. I love that he can be so competitive, but on Throwdown he's all about fun. I actually stood in line in Southlake to get his book signed. He was warm and delightful. Meeting him in person exceeded all expectations.

2. Weren't you at least tempted to call him 'Tyler' once? I'm such a huge fan it never crossed my mind.

3. So you apparently watch cooking shows... Yes, I do.

4. What's it like jumping from your home kitchen into cooking show competition? I'll tell you, my first day I was blown away. A big industrial or restaurant kitchen is very different. But you look around and realize it contains the same things--oven, blenders. Once you can look past the difference in scale, all the same elements are there.

5.  Does the camera really add ten pounds? One of my favorite lines is from Friends where they are looking at Monica's prom video--you know, where she says the camera adds ten pounds and one of them says 'how many cameras were on you?'' I'll let you know June 7. But to be safe, they add at least 25 pounds--and ten years.

6. You weren't ever tempted to sabotage the others, were you? Gosh, no. The caliber of chefs and cooks on the show is phenomenal, so you'll see why I was intimidating walking in. The key is embracing what you bring to the table and making it work for you.

7. If you get a show, what will it be about? I really am all about family and home cooking at its best. I understand that it's easy to define me as a stay at home mom, but I spent years in a career--so home cooking is also working 14 hours and getting home to cook for family or having your friends over and budgeting for all that.

8. Do you have a favorite dish to cook for your kids? I'll give you a sneak peak of June 7: the challenge is catering a party for the Food Network. There were 80 or so people, and in that group were huge celebrities from the Food Network--Giada, Alton Brown. I made my adaptation of an apple tart, my favorite dish to make for my kids.

9. How hard is it to get kids to eat, say, oysters? I wouldn't feed oysters to my kids. It's hard enough to get my husband to eat oysters. But in our house, we have the 'no thank you bite' rule. You can say no thank you, but you have to take at least one bite. I cook the same meal for all of us and I'm not going to eat mac and cheese every meal, so I do what my palate likes and adapt.

10. Don't you want to do something with Guy Fieri's hair? It looks really firm. I've never touched it, but it looks really firm. He has such energy, so friendly and up--good for him for having a trademark, you know.

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