Melissa Gets Nostalgic in Her New Season, Welcomes Her First Guests

By: Sarah De Heer
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Melissa d'Arabian is returning this Sunday to Food Network with an all-new season of Ten Dollar Dinners, and her fans are in for a treat. We sat down with the queen of creative, budget-friendly eats to talk about the new season, her first guests and even a couple of little-known facts about herself.

What are you looking forward to the most with this new season?

MD: Ten Dollar Dinners has become sort of an accidental diary of my life. I prepare six months in advance for every season I tape and since I don’t see them until they air, they become a snapshot of my life.

This season was really inspired by my childhood — the time I spent in Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California Since moving back to San Diego last year, I think it’s reawakened that part of my life. It's a celebration of my childhood and the memories that were created around food. For example, this season I make homemade tortillas, arroz con pollo and empanadas, which we made all the time when I was growing up. There will always be a part of me on the plate this season.

I can honestly say this season was the most fun to shoot. Even though it was hard work, it was so gratifying.

I heard a rumor that you welcomed your first guests on the show this year. Can you share with us who that was?

MD: My kids! My two oldest girls, Valentine and Charlotte, cooked a delicious brunch with me — the twins, Margaux and Oceane, and my husband, Philippe, sat down toward the end of the episode to eat with us.

To have them come to the set, which they call the New York playroom, was just so exciting for them and so special for me.  They ran around Food Network studios — they couldn’t have loved it more. They even got their hair and makeup done and got to see all the clothes and jewelry.

It was great to share that experience with them. When they're not with me, I travel with some of their stuffed animals. When I'm filming, I’ll place them somewhere on the set so when my kids are watching, they try and find their stuffed animals. It’s the "Where’s Waldo?" of Ten Dollar Dinners.

Little-known facts about Melissa:

1. Her first national TV experience was a small role on General Hospital

2. Living in L.A., it's common to be on game shows (and a good way to make some extra money) and when she was in her twenties, she was on two: Hollywood Squares and The Dating Game

3. Goat cheese — she won’t eat it.

4. She worked on cruise ships originally as a purser. But one night when one of the singers got sick, she found herself filling in and singing “We Are the World” in the Mediterranean. She later became a part of the entertainment staff.

5. She wants to be on Dancing with the Stars. Her husband is a great dancer and she says, "I don’t dance as well. So it’s my dream to dance better. I could be good — I’m a quick study."

Mark your calendars for Sunday, July 15 at 10am/9c to catch the season premiere of Ten Dollar Dinners.

Stay up-to-date with Melissa by visiting her Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also pre-order a copy of her debut cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners , right now.

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