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Food Network Crowns Its Winner

Winner Melissa d'Arabian on the set of her new show, which launches Sunday. (Food Network)

Another year, another “Next Food Network Star.” Melissa d’Arabian, a 40-year-old former Bethesda resident who was billed as a “stay-at-home mother of four,” won the Food Network’s annual competition last night, besting 42-year-old Jeffrey Saad of Los Angeles.

And here's some fast work: We’ll be seeing d’Arabian again this Sunday, when her new show makes its debut at 12:30 p.m.

During the nine-week competition, the bubbly — sorry, there’s just no other word for it — d’Arabian seemed to have a never-ending supply of cooking tricks, tips and appealing personal stories, positioning herself as the “gourmet next door.” Her show will be called “Ten Dollar Dinners” and will feature meals for four that cost $10 or less to prepare.

D’Arabian recently moved with her family to Kirkland, Wash., from Keller, Texas. During her teenage years, she attended Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda and graduated from St. Andrews Episcopal School here. She came back to pick up an MBA from Georgetown University and then worked downtown for a while. "The Washington area is dear to my heart," she said. "I still have a condo in Adams Morgan."

To get to the top, she bested nine finalists, including local contender Teddy Folkman, executive chef at at Granville Moore’s and Capitol Lounge.

So what does the winner actually win? D'Arabian be featured in Food Network Magazine, and she'll have a top spot at the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in October. And then there's the show: Each winner films six episodes, network spokeswoman Michelle Betrock explained. After they air, the network decides whether to film six more. "Cross your fingers," Betrock said. "She has a great following already."

Casting for Season 6 has already started. If you think you're worthy, go to the Food Network Web site for information and instructions.

-- Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  |  August 3, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Television  | Tags: Jane Touzalin, television  
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