My Q&A With The Next Food Network Star Finalist Aria Kagan ~Plus~ Recipe of One of Her Summertime Favorites for TCDR Readers!

Have you ever dreamed of being a TV star? Better yet, a Food Network star? I won’t lie, I daydream about it every season I watch The Next Food Network Star, trying to come up with my own “culinary point of view” and I pretend I could have a good chance. Yet, with no culinary training it’s probably not a reality for me, but I can still concoct my own creations at home and route for those who have the guts and skills to go for it!

Aria Kagan is one of the finalists this year, and although I did not have the chance to interview her in person, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to submit some questions to this The Next Food Network Star finalist. As a mom, big family gal and supporter of fresh farmer’s market produce, I am definitely routing for her in this year’s competition and was thrilled to see she is still in the run after last night’s eliminations (although I do not doubt that she will make it to the top 3, and hopefully she’ll snag her own show!). If you haven’t watched the season yet, start tuning in on Sunday evenings 9/8c, although I think they are skipping a week for the 4th of July. 

Get to know her a little better in my interview below and check out her favorite summertime recipe for profiteroles, or what I grew up in Japan calling shu kuriimu (choux creme). The recipe seems so easy, I can’t believe I thought they must be complicated to make and have never even looked up a recipe before. I plan on making some for my birthday next month and fill them with either whipped creme and strawberries or maybe some custard pudding. Or maybe I should whip up a batch with some ice cream and chocolate like Aria recommends for the 4th of July… If it turns out I will try and remember to take a picture to share with everyone, if I remember before they are all gone!

Q & A

1. What (or who) gave you the confidence to try out for The Next Food Network Star? Where do you see this journey taking you? 
My mom was the one that really gave me the push to go to the open casting call in Atlanta. She bought me the ticket and drove me to the airport to make sure I went. Sometimes you need someone to believe in you a little bit more than you believe in yourself.

2. What are some of your essentials tools in the kitchen?
I love my Microplane zester!!!!

3. What is your first food memory with your son and how do you get him involved in the kitchen? 
I was baking a cake. Luca, who was 2 at the time, decided he wanted to bake
a cake too. I set up an area for him that was identical to mine. As I scooped flour, he scooped flour. When I mixed, he mixed. It was such a special time. He wasn’t a baby anymore
and we were able to interact in a whole new way.

4. Any tips or tricks that have worked for you to get him to try new things. 
I have a little garden that Luca and I planted. I think it is important to teach our children at a young age where our food comes from. It also makes new food more exciting to

5. Favorite ingredient or spice to use in cooking?
Lemon and lemon zest. This is my secret ingredient. Whenever I feel a dish is missing something, a squeeze of lemon or a little lemon zest brightens everything up!

6. Do you have a favorite cookbook or recipe that my blog
mamas just have to buy/try? 
I am attaching one of my favorite summertime recipes.

7. Anything you’d like to share about yourself or advice you’d like to give to my readers? 
When I decided to have Luca, I knew my life would never be the same. I now shared my life with him, and him with me. My role as a parent is to show Luca the beauty that is life. Live it to the fullest! Be proud! Be confident! I always encourage parents to cook with their kids, not to be afraid of it. They most likely will make a mess. Relax and enjoy the time with them. A mess can always be cleaned up.

Summertime Recipe
These cream puffs are a delicious summertime treat!!! They are easy to make and even more fun to eat!!!! After they cool, I love filling them with vanilla ice cream and topping each one with a drizzle of chocolate sauce…spoons optional!

22 cream puffs

1 cup water
6 TB. unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
2tsp. sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400º.
2. Heat the water, sugar, salt and butter in a saucepan.
3. When the mixture starts to boil add in the flour.
4. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball.
5. Crack 4 eggs into a bowl.
6. Place the dough into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
7. With the mixer on a medium/high speed, add the eggs in one at a time until completely incorporated.
8. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan. Spoon large TB. mounds on to the parchment paper about 1 ½ inches apart.
9. Bake at 400º for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375º for a remaining 20 minutes until golden brown.

Aria’s Bio
Aria Kagan, 30 (Hollywood, Fla.), a single working mother and former chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami, loves learning where food comes from and enjoys using fresh produce from farmer’s markets in her recipes. She loves the way her food makes people feel and wants to teach people more about cooking with their family and friends. Aria grew up working in her parents’ Wisconsin café, she was trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and she now works as a private chef.

I was given the opportunity to submit these questions, but was not compensated for posting the article or participating. 

{If you enjoyed reading My Q&A With The Next Food Network Star Finalist Aria Kagan ~Plus~ Recipe of One of Her Summertime Favorites for TCDR Readers! I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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