There's a partial truth. What are the partial truths that we have to pay attention to? One is that we are busy on a Tuesday night. We do need to put together, have a quick dinner for Tuesday nights to feed our families before they go to soccer class and dance class. There's a partial truth, which is time is short and you don't have to spend a lot of time to make some simple food. That partial truth, when we start putting that up on the pedestal of, therefore, let's rid ourselves completely of any time spent in the kitchen, I don't think we realize what the price we would pay when we decided to let institutions make food for us, and process it.
It was a bad bargain. The external costs aren't included. If they were included in a bottle of high fructose corn syrup, fake apple juice, trust me, it would be very, very expensive and you would buy the real stuff. That's just the reality. The other partial truth that I think is particularly directed at women, which is we have taken skinny as being a proxy for healthy. Now, there is some truth to the fact that obesity does indicate, for a lot of people, that you're probably not eating the right things. Skinny is better. Skinny is this. I'm taking one partial truth that we have morphed into this sort of space that we now run this risk of If we go down that path, we start looking at the gift and not the giver, is really what that kind of morphs into.
So we have to be very careful about partial truths then getting put up onto a pedestal. Same thing with restaurants. I love going in. There's artistry. There's beauty in restaurants. I love restaurants. I love restaurant food. I love restaurant chefs. I'm so glad that they are here because they're creating, they're putting this voice into food that is phenomenal.
If we take that partial truth and we're like, "Okay. Now we all have to be restaurant chefs, because if we're not serving our family restaurant food, then we're losers. They are tricky business. And, let's not joke around. The partial truths have been spun into quite a financial profit for a lot of industries. This is very very profitable. Any time I feel like I am buying in to a destructive message, if I am clear-headed enough, I like to take a step back and go, "Who's profiting off of this?
Somebody is profiting off this ugly voice in my head that's being subtly reinforced by all this messaging and marketing. It's mean. It's ugly. It's harsh. It's destructive. You know that's not of God, because that's not His language. Number two, who would profit if I press into this, if I buy into this? Number three, what do I need to replace this with? How to replace a lot of those really awful thoughts and narratives with things that are healthy, and nourishing, and true, and good.
Good for us and good for our families and good for our neighbors and communities. I like that you care about that. That gives me a real sense of comfort that here you've got this amazing career that's centered not just in food and cooking and kitchen, but on networks and in New York Times lists. Your voice is really being elevated. It's very very comforting to me to know that deeply embedded in your food ethos, are all these ideas, all this really beautiful, spiritual, rich content that undergirds your table.
It's amazing. Hope you're enjoying the show so far. Just want to tell you one quick little offer that our friends over at Audible. If you don't already love them, they're amazing.
You're going to love Audible. You can get a free audio book just for trying it out. You can check out my books over there if you want to. I recorded them both myself. It's like me reading to you. It's that simple. Hope you love it. I'd love to switch gears, because your life is so interesting and your family is so interesting and everything about you is so cute and fun. I would love, if you wouldn't mind, I want to go back in your story just a little bit. Early on, sort of you're married. You've got four kids, because you had what, four daughters in three years?
When I look at pictures of your daughters sometimes, I'm like, "Are they all quadruplets? Two and a half years. I'm doing that math. The first two are twelve months apart. Three months, and then you find out you're pregnant. My husband says from pity sex, because like no woman with a three month old baby is like, "Woohoo. You know what, I tell you God has plans. I'll never not call it that. That's what it is. At the six week, eight week mark, it is pity sex. Then we get a baby out of it. God knows what He's doing.
And then 18 months later we had the twinnies. You've got four kids. They're all little. They're just everywhere. At that point in your career, because you had some really interesting career moves in your 20's. At that point, with all these babes, you decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I like this part of your story. You start kind of employing some of the things that your mom taught you and your own experiences and what it looks like to take care of and feed a family of six. I like the beginning. You made a video that was just like, I can only imagine that you just threw this thing together.
It was this very affordable, cost saving, delicious way to make homemade yogurt , right, and it caught on fire. It just went bonkers. Can you talk just a little bit about that season? Even that specific moment and how that kind of started laying pavement for you into the professional cooking world? It kind of did all start with this yogurt video. When the twins were about ten months old, so then I had a one-year old and a two year old, and something like that.
Something like that. Anyway, yes, when they were all little, when the twins got to be almost a year old, I started to get a little bit of an itch. That's when I started speaking about cost cutting measures. I was speaking about cost cutting measures because I worked in strategy and finance for the Walt Disney company for a number of years, and came from a finance background and strategy. Just a whole different world. I kind of took that background with my new world as a stay-at-home mom, and sort of brought these lessons into the home management world.
It wasn't all kitchen stuff. It was everything from creative ways to save money on your real estate bill, or whatever. The thing that was most popular was this yogurt. How was I making, because I wanted to use organic milk, but we were on a huge budget. How do I make organic yogurt myself?
I started having people in my home. I had like workshops, which sounds like I'd be charging money. It was just like, "Come on over. I still had four kids in diapers. We're making yogurt. Finally the madness had to stop, because I've got a diaper to change and that's when I made the video.
What worked about the video, I am convinced, and what has been a great reminder for me is, the video is really about; what do you need to know to be able to do this successfully and so that you can have this gift of this way of making yogurt? It wasn't about, "Do I look cute? What does my hair look like? All these things that TV can do to you. I've gone back to that over and over and over again, especially with Ten Dollar Dinners , because I will tell you a 30 minute show with a camera on your face and just you and this cavernous set with cameras all over and hundreds of people.
I am dying for you to talk about this. It's just so fascinating for those of us who watch it and who watch all these shows. It all just seems so charming and easy and, "Here. Just add some paprika. I want you to go back one step. Will you tell everybody, first of all, it's quite a big leap to go from the yogurt to the Next Food Network star. That was a big step. What that was like and that experience, and then parlay that into Ten Dollar Dinners , because you have just really You've just really made it. It's amazing what has happened to your career. What on earth made you go on to that reality competition show?
It was a very big commitment. My husband was a consultant and traveling and he was a couple of years post MBA, so he was really kind of at the beginning of a very intense career. It was a very big price to pay for us to send me.
It happened right around the end of the year, so we were doing our yearly sort of analysis about what our family goals are, what our personal goals are, whatever, and sort of our family mission statement and what we were about. We were very deliberate about what this would mean, what the price would be, and if I won, what would that look like?
What would be my contribution to this world? I really looked at it that way, to say, "I think there's a voice in food that I think I have and that I think is not being voiced right now. If they are looking for somebody to get the dinner on the table with four screaming kids and to do that all on a Tuesday night and to do it in a way that is honoring of our bodies, of our souls, of our stewardship of this earth, all these things.
The stewardship of our money, our financial resources. If they are looking for somebody who has been there and done that, and they want that, then there's no question I'm the person they should pick. There's no question. They may say, "Yep, you are the person to pick. That's not what we want, but thanks for playing. That's why it didn't really stress me out that my knife skills weren't as great as everybody else's. Here's the truth. If you have opened up 32 restaurants and you have been a professional chef for 16 years and you have gone to CIA and your knife skills aren't better than mine, then you suck.
You know what I mean? Pack up your bags and go home. Of course they're better. I would hope they're better. I'm the only one who's not a chef. I'm the only one who hasn't gone to culinary school. Here's what I have. One is I am the only one here who gets dinner on the table with four kids every single night. I'm the only one. Melissa: You know what? I'm going to make it really easy for them to see why this would be a great business decision.
Those were sort of the two things I thought I bring to the table. No one else does. What's the craziest thing that happened on that show to you specifically? What was your craziest moment when you were like, "What's happening right now? I can tell you We were cooking for Ina Garten and a bunch of her friends, and we had a budget. It was like a budget dinner party for fancy people in the Hamptons, and we had to cook on a budget.
In my lane, I grew up eating chicken wings back when they were z-shaped and not at all like food. They were not bar food. They were just cheap chicken, and mostly skin. This is made for me. Tyler Florence was the judge. They always have one little pre-challenge and then the big challenge. He was the judge of the pre-challenge, and our pre-challenge was to go through this grocery store and find an ingredient and give a money saving tip to camera.
He was going to pick a winner of that pre-challenge who got like an advantage in the main challenge. I give the tip that with green onions that if you just cut off the greens, you can put the root into a cup, put it back in your fridge, and it will regrow back the greens, so you can always have green onions for your salad. It will always just regrow. You buy green onions once and you have green onions for a few months, or whatever. I have to tell you, it has become like a tip I still get emails to this day. I still love that tip. People love that tip. The judges, the main judges loved that tip as well.
However, when we shot the mini challenge and then we all get together and they go to say who won the mini challenge, they also always call out a loser. I was the loser. That's a winning tip. Melissa: That is a winning tip. Here was the funny thing. Here's what Tyler Florence says, which is where is was like, "Oh my gosh. This world is crazy. I should preface this with saying I love Tyler and we're friendly-ish. Not friends, but we're certainly very friendly and it's all delightful and great. Here's what he says to me.
He said I'm such a dork. He tells me, he says, "Not so successful. Melissa, your tip with the green onions. Green onions cost 69 cents. People don't care about saving 69 cents. He said, "You know, the thing is this. She was always the pretty one and I was always the smart one. There's no world in which I ever questioned or worried that I'm not smart. That's just not my hot button at all. It's all fine. But I do worry about not being pretty enough or whatever. Later, I'm like, "That's the stupidest thing in the world. We can get past the insult. I will say, as a side note, the other judges, they loved it.
A usability case study on food delivery app Eat24
They thought it was creative and fun. The fact that I lost got edited out. That whole piece never made it to air. I get it. Tyler later probably thought, "That wasn't the best way to say that. It was definitely, "You've got to make sure that when you open your mouth, something smart comes out of it.
I'm not going to quit laughing about that the rest of the day. So, then of course you sort of parlay into Ten Dollar Dinners , which was such a great show. Useful, smart, accessible, doable. Some of those shows are interesting to watch, but they're just so beyond. They feel, I don't know what, inaccessible. I love Ten Dollar Dinners. Talk about that experience just a little bit.
What's that show been like, and your experience with the network, and even like what's hard about doing a 30 minute show where there's just you and a camera? First of all, thank you. I love it because it's doable. I think there's a lot of value to this world where we read cookbooks. People read cookbooks in bed. They read them. Like a novel. I think there's a lot of good that comes from that. That's not my lane. My lane is when you need to make dinner on a Tuesday night, pull out my book and you'll be able to make it, because you've got the ingredients in the house.
My lane is I want to get you into the kitchen cooking. That's what you do. I want you to, even if you I want you to be sitting down with your family, even if you are ordering take out. There are so many benefits to, and not just the emotional and the spiritual benefits, but the cognitive benefits and the emotional benefits for kids and families. There are so many good things that happen when we eat together.
There's a lot of research behind this, too. That's real. Melissa: Yeah. It's not just about the food. Even if you can't make the food, at least sit down together and eat. I feel like that's a victory, even if it's not my food. Ten Dollar Dinners, that was the goal, was to get people really cooking. I'll tell you what. I've had people—it was crazy--people would come up to me and say to me, with tears in their eyes, "I never thought I could host a party, but I used your bean recipe trick," or your this or your that, "and I was able to host a party and not break the budget.
I never thought I could afford to host. I am thinking, "Wow. This is huge. People, our sense of who we are, is so connected to our ability to feed our families. Ten Dollar Dinners was really a celebration of stewardship. It has to be catchy and it has to be accessible to sort of feel like Ten Dollar Dinners.
Make All Food An Act Of Love
If anybody reads the book, "Ten Dollar Dinners", they see it's not about just getting the cheapest food and putting it into your bodies. It's about stewardship and it's about honoring our ingredients and seasonality. It's really busting the myth that we have to shop in the inner aisles. It's really changing that framework. It was such a deep, rich, philosophical show for me. I created that. This was such a perfect mash up of what my life had been up until then, so it's a very strategic show. That's what Ten Dollar Dinners was for me, and it is.
I say it a lot. If anybody ever comes to any of my speeches, they always hear me talk about how I am not in the food business. I strive for my work to be identifiable. I developed my style by studying work I was attracted to. I found myself drawn to dark portraits, bright colors, stories, pictures of hands, texture, movement, and negative space.
My favorite type of photography to both admire and create is food photography. I do also have a special place in my heart for portraiture. Beautiful images that tell a story reach directly to my heart and make it skip a beat, I live for that feeling. The workshops are so much fun! After hosting my first one with the help of Austin Learnshop , I knew it was something I wanted to continue and grow. We teach folks how to curate their feed for their brand or business. One thing we stress is how important it is to think about your account page as a whole. Consistency is also hugely important.
Become aware of worry and guilt about eating.
George Bernard Shaw - There is no sincerer love than the
These negative thoughts are the foundation for unhappiness and depression. Step Into Love. It is really just a decision and nothing more. Know that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. The most harmful ingredient in the foods you it is your fear. Give up all your judgements and resentments against food. Choose a loving thought instead. Food like the cupcakes, truffels, chocolate Protein bites from You Are Love Foods just easily flows through my body and delights my soul.
Instead I listen and eat with God. I say a prayer before eating. For me that is the blessing of earthiness. It is about receiving what we need to grow on all levels and bread is a symbol for that. Make All Food an Act of Love. When I bake and cook, I do it as an act of love. I look on Instagram and Pinterest for new ideas for creating super delicious and healthy recipes.
I have the greatest fun putting ingredients together that seem to have no connection at all, and then become a wonderful taste explosion. And when I hear my Inner Guidance tell me to eat a hamburger, I find best quality I can, and bless it and enjoy it. I love to be fully present when I eat. I hope that this article is helpful in some ways for you and would appreciate your thoughts and comments on it.
May 15, Read More.