Friday, February 25, 2011

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Melissa d'Arabian: Chef and Mother

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity of meeting and interviewing Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian for an Examiner piece. This woman is absolutely amazing and I think I'm smitten. She was so open, honest, down to earth, and fun. Oh boy, was she fun! I left the interview with extra bounce in my step because her energy and bubbly personality were so infectious. It's hard to be around her and not get happy yourself.

What I liked most about Melissa is how everything she does and every opinion she has is rooted in her personal life. She shared a few nuggets of motherhood wisdom with me and I wanted to pass them along to you:
  • Quality vs. Quantity time: Both are important. To get the quality time with your kids you need to put in the quantity because you never know when you are going to get those quality moments.
  • Always have dessert: Dessert is a part of the meal in her house; it isn't considered a treat.  She never announces what the dessert will be because she decides on the dessert depending on how well everyone ate at dinner. If everyone ate well then they get something like chocolate cake. If they didn't eat too well then they get something like yogurt.
  • Treat your child's special palette like you would treat a vegetarian: Have respect for the different palette and always offer something they can enjoy and eat. They may not like everything served but the point is to have something they can enjoy so they can participate in the greater dining experience.
  • It's ok to say no: For Melissa, it's important for her daughters to know they have an opinion that's valued. It's ok to say no in her house because it's more important for a person to have a positive relationship with food than to feel forced into eating something. 
  • Options: You can't control what your kids eat but you can control they options they get.
  • The importance of time apart from kids: Saying bye is hard but being away is a lifeline and connection to who you are as a person. 
I always stress out about how much Cati's eating so hearing Melissa's take on eating was really refreshing. Even at this age, I am worried about the body image issues Cati may face when she gets older; it didn't occur to me that those body images issues will also be connected to her relationship with food until this interview with Melissa. If I want Cati to respect herself and have confidence in her choices then it all starts with the small things, like mealtime. My goal as a mother is to create as loving and comfortable an environment as possible for Cati and mealtime is such a huge part of parenting. Bottom line, I love talking to other moms because it helps expand my view of motherhood.

Melissa is really a delight and she truly inspired me. I'm so glad I got to meet and get to know her. Now I'm looking forward to watching her "Dixie on a Dime" (buttermilk fried chicken and mashed potatoes!) episode on Sunday.

If you don't know about Melissa, you can check her out on Facebook and Twitter. I promise, she's worth following!


Deeba PAB said...

Great interview and well written. Mellisa's nuggets of wisdom are spot on. How lucky you were to meet her.

Katrina said...

How great for you to meet Melissa. Nice post, too.