All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate editor at Food Network, now living in New York City after being born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She likes her eggs runny, her pasta cheesy and has been known to throw back dozens of oysters at a time.

Restaurant Revisited: NY State of Mind at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria

by in Shows, March 26th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleChange — or a lack thereof — was at the foundation of Robert Irvine‘s mission at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., a Big Apple-style parlor specializing in family recipes. While Robert indeed identified several issues with the menu at Mama Della’s and noted that its interior decor was “very nondescript,” perhaps the most-critical problem plaguing the business was owner Barry Kalt, who Robert deemed “one of the most-cantankerous owners I have ever come across.” Given his long-standing beliefs in how true dishes and ingredients should be prepared and served, Barry was hesitant to make any meaningful updates to his business practices, which ultimately resulted in his son Andrew, a former cook at Mama Della’s, leaving the restaurant. It took a serious lesson from Robert for Barry to fully realize the error of his ways, and he soon committed to improvements in the future. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, the Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Della’s, and FN Dish has the exclusive update from Barry on how his business is faring today.

“Mama Della’s saw a significant increase in customer traffic for the one-month period after the shoot,” Barry said. “Sales have increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2013.”

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5 New Recipes for Spring

by in In Season, Recipes, March 26th, 2014

Pasta, Pesto and PeasWhen you’ve nearly exhausted all of your usual go-to meals, it’s time to update your recipe repertoire with a fresh set of flavors. Think of it as a spring cleaning of sorts, celebrating the change in season with family-friendly dinners, salads and treats that showcase the best tastes the warm weather has to offer. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite innovative springtime recipes below to find must-try ideas from Melissa, Giada, Ina and more chefs.

5. Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad — Dressed with a sweet and tangy mustard-mayonnaise vinaigrette, Melissa’s top-rated salad is tossed with crispy bacon for extra indulgent flavor.

4. Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts — The beauty of this quick-fix side dish is that it boasts a mix of textures, including the trio of tender English, snap and snow peas, crunchy nuts and chewy dried fruit. Plus, it’s a big-batch recipe, so it’s sure to feed a crowd when you’re entertaining.

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Get to Know Marc Summers

by in Shows, March 25th, 2014

Marc SummersFor years Marc Summers was the face of Food Network’s Unwrapped, pulling back the curtain on some of your all-time favorite snack foods and exposing just how they come to be in the factory. But come this spring, he’ll go one step further in the world of munchies by judging a snack food showdown on Rewrapped. Just in time for next month’s premiere (on Monday, April 21 at 8|7c), FN Dish caught up with Marc to learn a bit more about his own cooking habits, plus some of his favorite foods and go-to late-night bites. Read on below to hear from Marc, then find out more about the host of Rewrapped, Joey Fatone.

Do you cook at home? If so, what’s your signature dish?
Marc Summers: I do, but my wife is a better cook than I am, so, not that we’re ever in competition, but she’s just so darn good at it that I don’t do it much. When I’m in California … I like to barbecue. So I’m the king of barbecue in L.A., but the rest of the time my wife is cooking.

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Melissa’s 18-Minute Pasta Dinner — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 24th, 2014

Garlic Oil Sauteed Pasta with BroccoliDespite your best attempts at meal planning and any plans you have for leisurely time in the kitchen, sometimes the unexpected occurs, and by the time you get home from the day, there’s hardly any time to make dinner. On nights like these, it’s important to have in your recipe arsenal a few go-to recipes that require as few ingredients as possible and can be on the table in a flash.

Melissa’s Garlic Oil Sauteed Pasta with Broccoli (pictured above) is one such fuss-free timesaver, as it can be on the table in less than 20 minutes. She starts with a few pantry staples, like garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil, to make what will become the base of this bold sauce. After incorporating vibrant broccoli for a dose of good-for-you vegetables, she tosses penne into the mixture for a quick, simple supper. Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water, as you may need it to thin out the sauce once the noodles are added. For an indulgent finish, top each bowl with Parmesan cheese.

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Get to Know Joey Fatone

by in Shows, March 24th, 2014

Joey FatoneAlthough he was once a competitor on such fierce contests as Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and Chopped All-Stars, Joey Fatone is trading in his apron for a host’s suit on the all-new series Rewrapped (premiering Monday, April 21 at 8|7c). FN Dish caught up with the former musical superstar on the set of his upcoming show to chat about his signature dish, go-to late-night bite and favorite people to cook with. Read on below to hear from Joey, then hear from Marc Summers, a judge on Rewrapped.

Do you cook at home?
Joey Fatone: I do. I do enjoy cooking at home. It’s hard when you have kids because they like certain things, so sometimes you end up making the same thing over and over and over again. It’s like, “Let’s try something new, shall we?”

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Double the Victory — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, March 23rd, 2014


For the first time in Cutthroat Kitchen history, Alton Brown welcomed four of the “wickedest winners” back to the contest to see who among them could uphold their victorious records and outcook their competition yet again. After claiming wins in Season 1, Chefs Brian, Charles, Frankie and Gwen took their places at their workstations, confident that they would be able to keep up with their newest culinary rivals — but ultimately only one proved his or her staying power.

After three hard-fought rounds that found him making impromptu drinks for Alton, cooking in bed and deep-frying bread pudding, Chef Brian claimed a second Cutthroat win. Jet told Alton on the host’s After-Show that Chef Brian’s cocktail-concoction sabotage was “a giant time killer,” but it was surely not as wow-worthy as his Round 2 challenge, which forced him to prepare a breakfast burrito in bed atop a small cook station. “Are you kidding me?” Jet asked Alton with a smile when he saw the bed rolled in the kitchen.

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After Buying This Restaurant: McNabs Dockside

by in Shows, March 23rd, 2014

Keith Simpson on Buy This RestaurantLeaving behind pasts in Washington, D.C., Tim and Jennifer moved south to Fort Lauderdale and soon set their sights on business ownership. Although Tim has vast experience in the food industry, he and Jennifer needed guidance when it came to finding a location to launch an Irish pub, so they looked to Keith Simpson and Buy This Restaurant. Together they scoured several potential hot spots before selecting a waterfront restaurant with both dock and road access.

FN Dish checked in with Tim soon after filming to find out how his brand-new business, now named McNabs Dockside, is progressing. Read on below to hear from Tim for the exclusive first update on McNabs.

How is construction going at McNabs Dockside? In what stage is the renovation, and when do you plan to open?
Construction is going great. We are approaching the final stage. We anticipate opening in May.

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Win a Signed Copy of Haylie Duff’s Cookbook, The Real Girl’s Kitchen

by in Contests, Shows, March 22nd, 2014

Sunny Anderson, Haylie Duff, Marcela Valladolid and Katie LeeWhile some authors may pride themselves on publishing cookbooks filled with intricate multistep recipes and lavishly elegant meal ideas for special occasions, Haylie Duff is no such writer, releasing a brand-new work, The Real Girl’s Kitchen, that cooks of every caliber can conquer with ease.

She stopped by The Kitchen this morning to introduce this recent release — based on her blog of the same name — and chat with the co-hosts about some of her favorite go-to dishes that are every bit as easy to prepare as they are deliciously satisfying. Together with Sunny Anderson, Haylie prepped two savory bites, Bacon-Wrapped Dates and Mushroom and Herb Crostini, which take the hassle out of entertaining, thanks to fuss-free preparation.

You can buy a copy of Haylie’s cookbook here, or you can enter to win one for free from FN Dish. We’re giving five lucky, randomly selected readers each a copy of The Real Girl’s Kitchen, and all you have to do to enter to win one is leave a comment below telling us your favorite recipe featured on The Kitchen so far this season (find them all here). You must include the recipe URL in your comment to be entered to win.

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Tempting an Evilicious Fate: Cutthroat Kitchen Winners to Return for Second Battle

by in Shows, March 20th, 2014

Cutthroat Kitchen ChefsWhether they’ve won or lost on Cutthroat Kitchen, many competitors would likely agree that one turn at the contest is enough, as it’s too fierce and downright evilicious to attempt again. For four determined chefs, however, one Cutthroat cook-off isn’t enough.

Chefs Brian, Charles, Frankie and Gwen, all winners from past appearances on the show, are returning to battle this Sunday on an all-new special episode, airing at 10|9c. The rules of the game are the same, but the competition will surely be steeper, as the most-skilled sabotagers are gathering to take on each other in a no-holds-barred competition. Ultimately three of these previous winners will be forced to forfeit their perfect records, and only one will earn the title of two-time Cutthroat conqueror.

Prepare for the upcoming event by reliving Chef Brian’s, Chef Charles’, Chef Frankie’s and Chef Gwen’s best moments in battle, then tell FN Dish in the poll below who you want to win a second time this weekend.

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Restaurant Revisited: Fiery Family Fusion at Pasión Latin Fusion

by in Shows, March 19th, 2014

Robert IrvineInferior food was just one of the problems Robert Irvine was forced to contend with when he arrived at Pasión Latin Fusion in Albuquerque, N.M. Owners Monica and Elvis Bencomo were faced with financial struggles and family conflict, and they needed Restaurant: Impossible to improve their issues if Pasión was to have any chance at future success. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert transformed the interior of the Latin-inspired eatery, overhauled the menu and eased strained personal relationships to ultimately relaunch the business. Read on below to hear from Monica in an exclusive interview and find out how Pasión is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible reopening.

Since Robert left, Monica says, “Sales are definitely up by about 40 percent compared to January 2013 and 30 percent from December 2013.” She adds that “according to our servers, about one in five customers are new.”

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