Alum talks Food Network

Melissa dArabian, UVM alumna and New York Times best-selling author, gives the Cynic the scoop on her first cookbook, cooking while at school and winning the fifth season of The Next Food Network Star.

The Vermont Cynic (VC): In your new and first cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners, what was your inspiration for making every recipe cost $10 or less?

Melissa dArabian: I grew up with very little money and my mom passed away when I was a junior in college luckily I was very supported by my sorority Alpha Chi Omega. So my inspiration is really that I think we should all be excited about the food were serving our family or friends.

VC: So what is the benefit of cooking food for yourself and others?

dArabian: Its really about making people feel good. I believe in cooking for people, not for the plate.

VC: What was your experience like being on The Next Food Network Star?

dArabian: The Next Food Network Star ultimately was a very challenging experience. I came out of it having an opportunity to bring my real-life experience to Ten Dollar Dinners.

VC: Did you cook while at UVM?

dArabian: I remember when I was at UVM, I was cooking like a crazy lady. I would go around and drop off goody bags to various friends. I was making so much food, I couldnt eat it all.

VC: How did you manage to cook in the dorms?

dArabian: An old friend of mine from UVM just emailed me on Facebook and was saying, Do you remember making beef stroganoff in Hamilton Hall in a hot pot? Do you know what a hot pot is? Do you still have those?

VC: Im not sure if hot pots are allowed in the dorms anymore. What tips do you have for college students trying to cook on a budget?

dArabian: Cooking for one person can be kind of tiring, expensive it doesnt take any more time to cook for four or eight people than it takes to cook for one. So my best strategy is to cook for each other.

VC: What about cooking for a crush? Is that too old-fashioned?

dArabian: I really think that the homemade dinner as a date strategy is so overlooked. If I was dating somebody, I sort of had a rule that it was five or six dates and then I would make dinner for the guy. I will tell you that went a long way to impress people.

VC: Is that how you met your husband?

dArabian: My husband and I always talk about the moment that he thought, Oh, theres really something there, and that was the day that I made dinner for him when we were living in Paris.

VC: Do you have a guilty pleasure food?

dArabian: Ice cream is so my guilty pleasure. People ask why you pick your different colleges and what are some of your best experiences; did you pick UVM for the skiing? I have to tell you UVM for me was so ideally placed because it was near Ben and Jerrys.

VC: Any last advice for UVM students?

dArabian: Go out there and do life with abandon, because life is in session. If youre not failing a lot, its cause youre not doing enough.

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