For Melissa d'Arabian, food has always been more than just food. It has been a constant anchor through the many unexpected turns her life has taken—after losing her single mother to suicide at 20, she found a way to use her childhood love of cooking as a means to help fund her MBA. She cultivated the art of cooking during her years in Paris as a single woman working in Disney's finance division and began helping other women cook more cost-efficiently after becoming a full-time mom to her four daughters. Melissa became a national face for cooking on her own Food Network show (Ten Dollar Dinners) after winning the fifth season of The Next Food Network Star in 2009. Food has also been a way for Melissa to connect with other women, whether it's through the pages of a cookbook, a TV screen, or around a table with a shared meal. She spoke with TCW about the role of food in her life and in our culture, how God has worked in and through her as he's raised her platform to a national level, and what she wishes women could understand better about food and cooking.
I wonder if you could start out by telling me a little bit about your journey with food. How did you get started in cooking?
My mom was a single mom, and she was putting herself through college and then eventually medical school. When I was five, she invited a bunch of my girlfriends from kindergarten and their moms to our house to have cookies and hot cocoa and to sing Christmas carols. And that little event was just so much fun that, even though we were on a tight budget, we started doing it every year. It grew from cookies and cocoa to a full-fledged party, which we called the Mother-Daughter Holiday Tea. My mom, my sister, and I would bake for weeks ahead of time and freeze cookies and cakes. That was the beginning of my love for connecting with women, which has become a huge thrust in my career and my life, and also for my love of cooking, especially cooking for people. And that's what food is about: It's about connecting people, nourishing people, and it's about showing love. It's about making people feel welcomed and making people feel adored.1
Life Around the Table
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