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From Fine Arts to the Food Network

CFA alum gets a taste of fame on Ask Aida


Aida Mollenkamp and Noah Starr (CFA'03) play around on the set of their cooking show.

Unlike a lot of actors out there, Noah Starr was never astarving artist. And his latest role — the sidekick–techguru–food-taster on the Food Network’s Ask Aida — assures that he won’t become one anytime soon.

Theprogram’s premise: chef Aida Mollenkamp prepares simple disheswhile answering viewers’ questions, submitted by phone, e-mail, andtext message. As Mollenkamp chops, whips, stirs, and sautees, Starr(CFA’03) sits at a laptop and chooses the questions. And of course, atthe end of the show, he gets to sample the food.

“Theywanted someone to handle the interactivity part of it,” Starr says ofthe decision to have a cohost, “and someone to have alittle banter with.”

His backgroundmakes him ideally suited for the job, he says. After graduating from BU with adegree in theater studies, he moved to New York with a group of friendsto do a play in the New York Fringe Festival. “From there I starteddoing little acting bits, like on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and commercial stuff — things that every actor does,” he says. “I also started doing comedy and improvisation a lot.”

Betweenjobs, he wrote for World Wrestling Entertainment. “It was definitely anexperience,” Starr says. It also meant he was never a “broke actor,”and for that he credits his CFA education. “The theater studies programI was in was really cool," he says, "because you didn’t just act for four years. Ilearned how to do all sorts of things. It taught me different tricks togo forward with a career.”

When Starr learned the FoodNetwork was looking for a sidekick for its new cooking show, he did ascreen test and landed the job. “It was the culmination of two things,”he says. “I really like comedy and performing, and I really like foodand cooking.” He says he learned to cook from his grandmother andtook some classes in New York.

Ask Aida, whichpremiered in August 2008, is the Food Network’s latest attempt toappeal to a new generation of viewers. “The show is for a youngercrowd,” Starr says. “The idea is that it’s just two people hanging outin the kitchen — one who’s a gorgeous woman who can cook, and one whojust happens to be a geeky guy who knows how to use computers.”

Starrsays his job has allowed him to sample a wide array of new dishes. Hisfavorite so far is mango chicken. “It was totally simple, really easyto make, and it was really good,” he says. “We had the freshestmangoes.” But the work has its risks, too, however minor: he oncechipped a tooth while biting into a coconut-type fruit on the show.

Andas tech guru, Starr has sorted through some unusual e-mails. Oneviewer asked about the need to wash chicken before cooking it. Thequestion was easy, but the photo she sent was a puzzle. “It was a rawchicken in a shower cap,” he says. “It took me a long time to figureout what it even was.”

Jessica Leving can be reached at jleving@bu.edu. What’s your favorite recipe? Have any questions for Starr? Tell us in the comments below.


3 Comments on From Fine Arts to the Food Network

  • Sasha Sheftel on 01.27.2009 at 11:42 am

    Question for Starr

    is there anyway i can get Noah’s email address?

  • Anonymous on 01.27.2009 at 2:09 pm

    haha chicken in a shower cap

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2009 at 12:37 am

    Ask Aida

    Can we get the recipe for the mango chicken?

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