Season 5 Winner: Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa D-Arabian wearing a black dress while making a salad

Melissa D-Arabian wearing a black dress while making a salad

Melissa D-Arabian wearing a black dress while making a salad

What was your favorite thing about being on NFNS? And your least favorite?

Favorite thing: Being pushed out of my comfort zone.
Least favorite: Feeling a little too out of my comfort zone at first.

Melissa's Winning Tips

Other than the obvious, in what ways did winning change your life?

Believe it or not, the biggest change has been managing the logistics of becoming a full-time working mom. But I think the fact that I share this experience with millions of parents across America just gives me one more point of view to bring to Ten Dollar Dinners.

What has been the greatest (unexpected) part of fame? Any downside?

My husband once got on a flight on a very close connection because the gate agent recognized his name and told him she just had to reopen the plane door to get him home to his four little girls. That was a fun unexpected side to fame. On the flip side, we once attracted a crowd who took pictures as my youngest two daughters had a no-nap-meltdown kind of day. It was awful. Mostly though, fans are fellow parents who can laugh with me when my kids have an off day (and what preschooler doesn't?).

What advice would you offer the next Star?

Be clear about who you are and what you want to accomplish in life, and then bring that to your work.

Do you keep in touch with other finalists? If so, who, and are there any fun stories to share about time you have spent together?

I keep in contact with some of them via Facebook and some are on my fan page. It's hard, though, to fit in fun catch-up chats because my family is my highest priority, so after all the work, I love nothing more than going home to my husband and girls and just nesting together.

What was the funniest/coolest/weirdest (or worst!) incident to happen behind the scenes?

The funniest memory I have is that of Michael Prioetti doing his impressions of everyone.

When you look back, what would you have done differently?

I don't live in regret, but I did learn to trust myself more in the process.

What was the greatest lesson you learned from your time on NFNS?

I was reminded to get clear on who I am and what I bring to the table, so I can embrace that, celebrate that. I call that playing a game I can win.

What's your current favorite recipe, and why?

My Chocolate French Toast — it's a recipe that transforms basic pantry ingredients into something extraordinary. Plus, I made it on my first appearance on The Today Show, which was a tremendous personal milestone.

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