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d'Arabian in 2016
October 1, 1968
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Cooking style||American and French Food|
Melissa Donovan d’Arabian (born October 1, 1968) is an American chef and television show host. She won the fifth season of Food Network Star in 2009. Following her victory, she went on to host Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network.
Born In Anaheim, California, d'Arabian moved throughout her childhood to Tucson, Arizona; San Diego, California; and Bethesda, Maryland. During this time, d'Arabian attended several private Christian schools. d'Arabian's parents divorced when she was a few months old, and she and her sister were raised solely by her mother. Because her single mother was paying her way through medical school, Melissa discovered her passion for cooking and developed her budget strategies very young. In an interview with Food Network, she said, “That's where I learned about cooking as a way of showing people that you care about them.” After high school at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Md, d’Arabian attended the University of Vermont, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. Melissa is a member of Alpha Chi Omega women's fraternity. After a period working on cruise ships as part of the entertainment staff, Melissa studied at Georgetown University, earning her MBA.
Following the birth of her four daughters, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Melissa applied her methods for saving money on foods while still providing her family tasty and satisfying meals, snacks and "company fare." She began to speak at women’s groups, sharing her budgeting techniques with other moms, teaching them how they could cut their grocery bills up to 70%. A video made for local moms on making homemade yogurt would eventually become Melissa's audition tape, part of her application to the Food Network for the Season Five of Next Food Network Star. Despite having no formal culinary training, d’Arabian won the fifth Next Food Network Star in 2009.
After winning Food Network Star, d'Arabian launched her show, Ten Dollar Dinners. The premise of her show is to give healthy, family friendly recipes and meal ideas that cost under ten dollars. In every episode, she follows her Ten Dollar Promise: “four people, ten bucks, infinite possibilities.” In 2012, she published her first cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week, which became a New York Times best seller. Also in 2012, Melissa began hosting a show on the Cooking Channel, Drop 5 Lbs. with Good Housekeeping. She shares healthy recipes and lifestyle tips to help people learn how they can lose weight and still enjoy good food. She has also appeared on several other Food Network series, such as The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Chopped, Food Network Challenge, and The Best Thing I Ever Made. Her recipes and budgeting tips have also been featured on the Today Show, CNN, People, Food Network Magazine and iVillage.com.
Tips and strategies
On her show and in her cookbook, d’Arabian tries to offer easy meal ideas that not only taste great, but are budget-friendly. She says, "10 Dollar Dinners is really a celebration of food and managing our household budget; it's so much more than cooking cheap food. The recipes don't scream budget cooking, and there really are clever ways to maximize the impact of a pricey ingredient. I want people to learn just one more of these strategies so their tool kit gets more robust while making the recipes from the cookbook.” In an interview with Food Network, she shared her top 3 strategies from her cookbook’s "10 commandments of Ten Dollar Dinners":
Relationships and family
On April 12, 1989, d'Arabian lost her mother to suicide. At the time, she was 20 years old and studying at the University of Vermont. d'Arabian described the loss of her mother as taking a toll on her financially, logistically, and emotionally. Since the death of her mother, d'Arabian says she honours her everyday in multiple ways including raising her daughters, following her personal life mission, and creating something new every year on the anniversary of her mother's death.
While working in merchandise finance in Euro Disney, d’Arabian met her husband, Philippe. They currently live outside of San Diego, California with their four daughters: Valentine (born 2005), Charlotte (born 2006) and twins Margaux and Océane (born 2007).
Religion and beliefs
d’Arabian identifies as a Christian and attends the First United Methodist Church of San Diego. She frequently speaks at public events about her struggle with her faith and her journey towards religion.
Following the death of her mother, d'Arabian states that she entered into a "decade-long tail spin". She attributes this period of time to the isolation she felt due to the stigma of suicide. This experience led d'Arabian to become involved in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Specifically, d'Arabian advocates for reductions of stigma against suicide, mental health, and substance abuse as well as encouraging people to reach out when they feel suicidal.
...I think as a society specific to my experience in suicide, when we are talking about preventing suicide - and suicide is preventable - there is this whole spectrum of prevention options depending on the life cycle of where someone is. For example, are they a survivor and need help coping afterward, like I was? There are a lot of risk factors for suicide like alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, mental illness, bipolarism; there are a lot of indicators and I think that as a society if we can remove the stigma from people seeking help for depression, we will help suicide. If we can remove the stigma of any of those risk factors, it perhaps is just as important as removing the stigma from suicide itself.— Melissa d'Arabian, Risen Magazine
Since 2009, d'Arabian has worked closely with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Initially, the AFSP approached her after she dedicated a recipe to her mother on an episode of The Next Food Network Star. She first became involved with them by offering her favourite comfort food recipe for their National Survivors of Suicide Day event. Since then, d'Arabian has participated in the San Diego Out of the Darkness Community Walk, been a part of the AFSP panel at the Congressional Spouses for Suicide Prevention and Education congressional briefing, and donated $5 from each purchase of her cookbooks on FoodNetwork.com for a one-week period. In May 2013, d'Arabian was awarded the Survivor of Suicide Loss Award by the AFSP. She has also competed on Guy's Grocery Games, Chopped, and Cutthroat Kitchen for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
d'Arabian has volunteered with a number of other charitable organization including teaching family cooking courses for Coronado Substance Abuse Free Environment and live-tweeting her mammogram for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
|2009||Food Network Star||Season five winner|
|2009 - 2011||The Best Thing I Ever Ate||Appeared on 8 episodes|
|2009 - 2013||Ten Dollar Dinners||Host|
|2010||Best Places I've Ever Been||Disney Memories episode|
|2010||Food Network Challenge: All-Star Grill-Off|
|2011 - 2013||The Best Thing I Ever Made||Appeared on 2 episodes|
|2012||Chopped All Stars|
|2012–present||Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping||Host|
|2013 - 2014||The Picky Eaters Project||Web series|
|2013–present||Guy's Grocery Games||Judge and contestant|
|2014||Cutthroat Kitchen: Superstar Sabotage Tournament|
|2015–present||Smart Carts: Winning the Supermarket||Web series|
|2012||Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week||Clarkson Potter Publishers||978-0-307-98517-0|
|2014||Supermarket Healthy: Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot||Clarkson Potter Publishers||978-0307985149|
- "Melissa d'Arabian's Food Network Star Interview". FoodNetwork.com. 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
- Atlas, Darla (2009-03-08). "Former Keller resident wins her own show on Food Network". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2009-08-03.