At age 7, Ariana Feygin of Excelsior, and her younger siblings began raising money to help kids with cancer and their families.
At age 12, she won an opportunity to be Minnesota's first and only contestant on the TV reality cooking show, “MasterChef Junior with Gordon Ramsay.” Afterward, she leveraged her passion for cooking by auctioning private dinners at charity events as a platform to support organizations making a meaningful impact in the world.
To date, Ariana, now 15, has raised over $500,000 for important causes like pediatric cancer, juvenile diabetes, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis and world hunger.
Ariana’s most recent venture has been the launch of her own line of aprons with Craftmade Aprons, “to bring fun and fashion into the kitchen, and raise money for good causes,” she said.
“This is why one-third of profits from these apron sales will be donated to the Pinky Swear Foundation, which helps kids with cancer and their families with financial and emotional support,” Ariana explained. The Pinky Swear Foundation was founded in honor of Mitch Chepokas, 9, of Chanhassen, who died of bone cancer in 2003.
The aprons make perfect gifts for everyone’s favorite chefs and foodies, Ariana said, and can be ordered online at arianafeygin.com/aprons.
Q: You’ve consulted with restaurants on their kids' menus. What do kids like to eat, and what do you like to create for them on restaurant menus?
A: Although many restaurants feature a kids menu, the options are often limited and the nutritional soundness is questionable. Ever since I was little, I loved eating out and trying new foods. However, I always wished there was more variety and creativity behind the dishes offered on the kids menu. Most recently, I collaborated with the team at Radisson Blu in Minneapolis to help them revamp their kids menu. This project is so special to me because kids develop their palates and nutritional habits from a young age, and restaurants have a tremendous opportunity to help shape eating habits in our future generation.
Q: After your time on MasterChef Junior, what opportunities have come your way?
A: I am curating new experiences such as pop-up culinary masterclasses, pop-up collaborations with restaurants, and of course, restaurant menu consulting. I am most passionate about inspiring others, especially young people, to chase their dreams, persevere through all challenges and obstacles they face, and to not let anyone or anything stop them from achieving their fullest potential. I have had the opportunity to speak in front of many audiences (once with over 11,000 people in attendance), which has been absolutely incredible. Touching people's lives is what brings me the most joy, whether this is through philanthropy work or through sharing uplifting content on social media (@arianafeygin) or by presenting onstage or by sharing a story at a private dinner.
Q: What's next for you after high school?
A: I plan to go to college, and would love to get a degree in food science and journalism. I am not fully sure what the future holds, or where my journey will take me, but I know for sure I will always have giving back to others at the core of everything I do.