All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an online editor at FoodNetwork.com, covering top-tier show and talent packages and managing the FN Dish and Star Talk blogs. She grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Michigan, where food was the focus of most conversations and it wasn't unusual to talk about the next day’s lunch and dinner menus while eating breakfast. Maria graduated from Barnard College in 2012 and currently lives in New York City. She likes her pasta cheesy, her eggs runny and her oysters briny.

2 New Ways to Wrap and Roll Chicken

by in Recipes, Shows, August 13th, 2016

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken BreastSlicing and stacking is well and good, of course, but today’s episode of The Kitchen put the spotlight on wrapping and rolling, showcasing all the ways to deliver bold boosts of flavor in easy-to-eat packages. Both Geoffrey Zakarian and Jeff Mauro delivered new ideas for transforming chicken with the help of a wrap, GZ going the elegant dinner route and Jeff opting for a next-level sandwich. Read on below to get their recipes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast (pictured above)
Not only does GZ cover his lean chicken breasts in a snug overcoat of prosciutto, but he also packs flavor inside the meat. He carves a pocket in the chicken and fills it with a Mediterranean-inspired mixture of creamy ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and fragrant sage. After searing the chicken on the stove, Geoffrey moves it to the oven to finish cooking, and what results is a just-crispy-enough exterior of prosciutto and a tender inside featuring juicy chicken and rich, melty ricotta. The finish is all about the lemony butter sauce, laced with sweet shallots and salty capers.

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Superhero Chefs Take On Sabotages — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 10th, 2016

Well, we’ve reached a new dawn in the land of Cutthroat Kitchen. On tonight’s special-edition superhero installment of Alton’s After-Show, host Alton Brown and judge Antonia Lofaso abandoned their earthly bodies and became Fry-der Man and Super Judge, respectively. For Alton, his impersonation involved none other than a jetpack-like backpack of oversize french fries, as well as a mask and hand made out of fry baskets; Antonia found herself flying (that is, hanging) in the air parallel to the floor, at the mercy of what Alton called “the four winds,” aka the Bobs. “It’s not my fault. I’m not in charge of them,” Alton explained to Antonia as she attempted to comprehend the predicament in which she found herself.

For this After-Show challenge, both Fry-der Man and Super Judge were tasked with putting their superhero spins on a classic hero sandwich, a simple task to be sure — or so it seemed. “I can’t even reach my olive oil,” Antonia declared at the outset, stretching her arms from the sling in an attempt to grab the bottle. Meanwhile, Alton was dealing with a struggle of his own. Thanks to the fry basket he was forced to carry in one hand, his chopping abilities were severely lacking, so much so that he resorted to simply smashing a lead of lettuce and a few olives for his sandwich. “That is unnecessary,” Antonia noted of the whacking going down on the station beside her. Both managed to put forth sandwiches, but ultimately only Antonia was able to experience the magic of superhero flight as the Bobs swept her around the kitchen to pick up plates.

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2 Ways to Cool Off with Cold Soups from The Kitchen

by in Recipes, Shows, August 6th, 2016

2 Ways to Cool Off with Cold Soups from The KitchenLet’s be honest. Chicken noodle, broccoli-cheddar and minestrone are all well and good soups, but when it’s roughly 100 degrees outside, the last thing you want to do is cozy up to a bowl of piping-hot liquid, right? But what about chilled soup? It’s just as light and satisfying as its steamy counterparts, but you can enjoy it without all of that … steam. On this morning’s new Chill Out episode of The Kitchen, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee showed two ways to indulge your craving for soup without sweating it out in the kitchen. The secret lies in their simple recipes for cold soups, both easy to make and full of summertime flavors.

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Chatting with Tia Mowry, a Mentor on the Brand-New Food Network Star Kids

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, August 4th, 2016

Food Network Star KidsYesterday we brought you an exclusive interview with Donal Skehan, one half of the powerhouse duo that’s set to mentor-judge 10 budding culinary talents on the upcoming premiere of Food Network Star Kids. Today it’s all about Tia Mowry, who knows what it’s like to be on TV as a child and what it takes to command a kitchen as the host of Cooking Channel’s Tia Mowry at Home. Read on below to get her take on what’s ahead on Star Kids and learn more about her own style in the kitchen.

What can fans look forward to seeing when this series premieres?
Tia Mowry: Heart. Number one, there’s a lot of heart in this show. I mean, you are seeing these kids’ dreams come true, but I also think why there’s a lot of heart, you see this show is about inspiration, so definitely a lot of heart. Great laughs [too]. These kids are extremely entertaining, because they’re not filtered. So, whatever comes out of their mouth, comes out of their mouth. Gosh, just lots of fun. I think what I love about this show, it’s creative, it’s very entertaining and it’s inspiring. Also, I think there’s some hard competition. You’re going to really see some excellent cooks in the kitchen with these kids. You’re going to see smart kids

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“Fly Vision” Makes Bartending Tricky — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 3rd, 2016

Anne Burrell is no stranger to the Cutthroat Kitchen arena, as she’s both competed on and judged this evilicious competition before. But the sabotages took a particularly diabolical turn for her tonight, when she returned to her post as a guest judge and later got to experience a few of the challenges for herself during the After-Show. No sooner did she take in host Alton Brown’s “custom cat condo” did she feast her eyes on an oversize shoe for shoofly pie. “But that was really nothing,” Alton Brown told her, as he prepared to unleash a far trickier test that she’d ultimately be wearing. He gave Anne what he called “fly vision,” thanks to psychedelic goggles that severely warped her vision. “They make you feel kind of drunk,” Alton added.

With the oddball specs snugly on her head, Anne did her best to prep a cocktail — but the task wasn’t without its challenges. “This is hilarious,” she admitted after knocking over a glass and attempting to feel her way around the prep station to land the tools she needed. Though she managed to fill up the shaker with a few liquors and even slice a grapefruit while under the influence of the googles, the real test came when it was time for her to pour the drink. “Did I make any of that in the glass?” she asked.

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Chatting with Donal Skehan, a Mentor on the Brand-New Food Network Star Kids

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, August 3rd, 2016

Food Network Star KidsFresh off a game-changing Season 12 of Food Network Star, Tregaye Fraser joined the Food Network family as an on-fleek chef with an uncanny ability to entertain. But that doesn’t mean the search for Star power has ended. In fact, the journey is set to continue this month when Donal Skehan and Tia Mowry team up to discover the next budding culinary talent — a young talent, that is. On Food Network Star Kids, the mentors will ask pintsize cooks to not only strut their kitchen chops but also shine on camera, just as an adult Food Network Star needs to be able to do.

Recently we checked in with Donal to get his take on what it’s like working with kids and the joint culinary-camera challenges he and Tia have in store for the finalists. Check out his exclusive interview below for a preview of the season and learn more about Donal.

Just like Food Network Star proper, this competition is special in that it asks kids to not just cook well but to also present and perform well. Do you think one part is trickier to master than the other?
Donal Skehan: It’s a tricky one because, like, obviously, to be a cook you have to have incredible skills to make people enjoy your food, that’s — I think sometimes I believe it’s something you’re kind of born with. Either you can do it or, I mean, you can learn it, but I think it’s something that you know if you have it in your heart and it’s something that that’s the place that you cook from, I think that’s something really cliché, but it is, and it’s true, though. And I do think that side of it is such an important part to have because you can teach most things, but if you don’t kind of have it from the outset, it’s going to be very hard to kind of create. So I think in this competition you do, but as soon as people start cooking you see who’s a natural cook and who’s someone who has learned it as a skill. Both can be very good, but you do see it more out there than ever before.

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16 Things You Didn’t Know About Tregaye Fraser, Food Network’s Newest Star

by , August 2nd, 2016

Food Network StarYou know Tregaye Fraser as the newest member of the Food Network family, and you're surely familiar with her work as the self-described "queen of food fusion on fleek." But did you know that her favorite TV show is Power and that she likes to munch o...

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Exclusive: Chatting with the Runners-Up of Food Network Star

by , August 1st, 2016

After 10 weeks of challenges, Food Network Star mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis announced the newest member of the Food Network family in a life-changing finale on Sunday night. Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye all showed bright flickers of ...

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Exclusive: One-on-One with the Winner of Food Network Star

by , July 31st, 2016

Food Network StarAfter 10 weeks of challenges, Food Network Star mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis announced the newest member of the Food Network family in a life-changing finale on Sunday night. If you haven't watched the episode yet, don't read any furthe...

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Caption It: Balancing Act Edition

by in Shows, July 30th, 2016

Caption It: Balancing Act EditionWith the Summer Games just around the corner, the co-hosts of The Kitchen let their Olympic spirit shine this weekend when they featured a globally inspired feast complete with recipes from around the world (think Mexican burgers, Vietnamese hot dogs and Brazilian chocolates) — and indulged in some friendly competition. They created an over-the-top obstacle course that demanded not only balance, agility and focus but also a hearty appetite as they tried Bobbing for Doughnuts on a string.

Take a peek at the photo above from this morning’s episode. Here Jeff Mauro is enduring the Spoon Balance test, in which he’s attempting to navigate tricky pool toys while keeping the lime on the spoon in his mouth. Next up for him will be the doughnut station, and then it’s on to Marshmallow Archery in a race against the clock.

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