The cooking star of Ten Dollar Dinners talks about finding God in the kitchen.
- Posted on Sep 19, 2019
Most people probably know Melissa d’Arabian either from her winning season of Food Network Star in 2009 or her most recent show Ten Dollar Dinners. D’Arabian shares how faith and the joy of food have been with have been with her every step of the way in her book Tasting Grace.
“God is part of our food story,” d’Arabian told Guideposts.org, adding that one way she’s been able to see God show up through food is in the patience required to prepare a meal.
“We have to wait for [food] to grow,” she said. “We have to wait for the stew to stew. We have to sit down at a table and take a pause from our lives.”
She sees this as a reminder of the worthiness of work and how this “work brings us closer to God.”
“The work of getting food on the table or growing food is actually an invitation,” d’Arabian said. “Leaning into these invitations really does shape how we view food.”
D’Arabian learned early on about the power of food, when a receptionist in her elementary school noticed d’Arabian often came to school without food. She offered d’Arabian a job working in the cafeteria. In exchange, d’Arabian got free lunch.
“That grace really shaped who I am,” she said. “Not only did it feed me…but looking back all those people were feeding my soul, not just my body.”
After graduating from college, d’Arabian spent many formative years climbing the corporate ladder at Disney and being a stay-at-home mom. She talks about that time, and a very personal incident that went on to challenge her faith and change the trajectory of her life, in her 2014 Guideposts cover story.
For Tasting Grace, d’Arabian’s first foray into non-cookbook writing, she went on a three-year journey to learn what God had to say about food. Her experiences as a television host and woman showed her the mixed messages people receive about food.
D’Arabian said she loved re-discovering the stories of food in the Bible. One that stuck out to her was the story of the Israelites complaining once God had freed them from Egypt.
“They're complaining and God responds by giving them manna,” d’Arabian said. “Not only does He give them free food, but He gives them sweet, free food.”
The story of this food flavored like honey, d’Arabian said, reframed how she thought about sweet foods.
“I used to think…maybe I'm not supposed to like something sweet,” she said. “But God wouldn't have made peaches if He didn't recognize the fact that we have a palate that likes sweet things.”
Now, d’Arabian sees connections to the divine in almost every aspect of food. When creating recipes, she connects to God as a creator. When hosting parties, she focuses on the hospitality for God instead of her own desire for perfection.
“God is using food to draw us closer to Him,” d’Arabian said. “Food's not an admonition. He's not trying to guilt us that, ‘oh, you're doing it wrong.’ Nope. It's an invitation into love and peace and closeness to Him.”