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.

Star-a-Day: Luca Della Casa

by , May 13th, 2014

Luca Della CasaLuca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn’t know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that’s what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.

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Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Broccolini — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 12th, 2014

Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and BroccoliniWhether you maintain a meatless diet just one day a week or adhere to a vegetarian lifestyle, eggs are surely a welcome addition to your meat-free menu, as they’re versatile, packed with protein and, perhaps best of all, quick to prepare. Because there are multiple ways to cook eggs, you can incorporate them into nearly any meal — even lunch and dinner. The next time you make fried rice, try serving sunny-side up eggs atop the dish to add substance, or bake eggs in tomato sauce for a rustic Italian supper.

Food Network Kitchen sticks with a scrambled centerpiece in its fuss-free recipe for  Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Broccolini (pictured above). While this 20-minute meal is a cinch to prepare, it’s a dressed-up version of the everyday scrambles you likely ate as a child; instead of calling for American cheese, this recipe incorporates rich ricotta to create a creamy taste, and it swaps in vibrant Broccolini in place of traditional peppers and onions. It’s important to stop cooking the eggs once they’re set to yield tender, fluffy results every time. Finish the eggs with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and serve with bread to round out the meal.

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Star-a-Day: Loreal Gavin

by , May 12th, 2014

Loreal GavinLoreal Gavin, 26, is motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing chick who loves tattoos, and she’s been trained in culinary arts, baking and pastry. She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her to cook from her soul. Read on below to hear from Loreal, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Loreal: I have a grandmother’s soul from the Deep South and an insatiable lust for adventure.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Loreal: I didn’t. I just knew that I had to come in here and be myself.

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Just Deal with It — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, May 11th, 2014


Cutthroat Kitchen competitors know that when they begin their time in the contest, they’re agreeing to as many as three rounds of unforeseeable problems; chances are high that no matter what dish host Alton Brown asks for, the chefs won’t be able to execute their dream versions of it, be that on account of sabotage, poor planning or simply bad luck. Adapting to challenges is the name of the game on Cutthroat Kitchen, and a contestant’s inability to do that may ultimately do him or her in.

That’s precisely what happened on tonight’s all-new episode when Chef Kristina was gifted a can of spiced ham to use in place of fresh meat in her sloppy joes dish. “I think she wasn’t willing to embrace an ingredient,” Alton told judge Jet Tila on the After-Show. “She saw something that she knew came out of a can, and it was, like, checkout,” he added. Instead of sticking with a traditional approach of ground protein in sloppy joes, Chef Kristina simply sliced the canned product, and Jet wasn’t willing to pardon her for that. “It was slop on a plate,” Jet admitted, and Alton reminded fans, “You’ve got to embrace the ingredient, regardless of its origin.”

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Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by , May 11th, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I’m most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

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Star-a-Day: Kenny Lao

by , May 10th, 2014

Kenny LaoKenny Lao, 36, grew up making Chinese dumplings with his mom, and his passion for that signature dish led to the creation of his fast-casual restaurant business. He wants to take the intimidation out of cooking and share how to make food that is simple but delicious. Read on below to hear from Kenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Kenny: Fast and casual

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Kenny: I love playing games, and I love puzzles, and I love competitions and sorting things out. Not even the takeaway, but just the experience itself is so awesome — just to be into this intense, totally immersive game.

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Star-a-Day: Emma Frisch

by , May 9th, 2014

Emma FrischEmma Frisch, 30, is the girl next door who has traveled the world, and she has family members on five continents. Now residing in upstate New York, Emma is a food blogger and business owner, and she believes anyone can become a good cook. Read on below to hear from Emma, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Emma: My culinary point of view is that anyone can become a more natural and confident cook by learning how to make American comfort food and freshening classic recipes with their own twists. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the best-tasting ingredients at the best prices and freshest ingredients.

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Pamper Mom with Homemade Spa Products, Kitchen Style

by in Holidays, Shows, May 9th, 2014

Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson, Marcela Valladolid and Geoffrey ZakarianMother’s Day is just a few days away, and surely no one deserves a relaxing afternoon at the spa more than Mom. While it may be too late to score her an appointment at your local spa, there’s indeed time to pamper her at home — and with goods you likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

On tomorrow’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts are celebrating moms with brunch, dinner and dessert ideas worthy of the day, plus a few homemade spa products. These easy-to-do concoctions — all created with edible goods like egg yolks, orange juice, sugar and olive oil — will help fortify and repair Mom’s nails and smooth her skin. Check out the simple how-tos below, then tune in to The Kitchen tomorrow at 11a|10c to watch Katie, Sunny and Marcela try out these products on two willing spa subjects: Jeff and Geoffrey.

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Star-a-Day: Donna Sonkin Shaw

by , May 8th, 2014

Donna Sonkin ShawDonna Sonkin Shaw, 42, is dedicated to making health and nutrition taste delicious. She believes eating properly leads to overall health inside and out. She is a certified holistic health coach who works privately with clients, and her twist on healthy comfort food delivers the flavor and satisfaction to keep anyone on track. Read on below to hear from Donna, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Donna: My culinary point of view is healthy comfort food. … I like to say I put the good in the bad and the bad in the good because I feel that people always want real flavor: butter and bacon and chocolate and things like that. There are two of us that come to the table when we come to eat. There’s the part that wants pure pleasure, then the part that knows that what we eat becomes our body. So we’re also eating for our vibrancy and health, so I try to satiate both sides.

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Star-a-Day: Christopher Lynch

by , May 7th, 2014

Christopher LynchChristopher Lynch, 39, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, spent time working with some of the country’s finest restaurateurs and has become a rock star chef in his own right. Christopher carved his own food path with a modern take on the Cajun and Creole cuisine of his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Read on below to hear from Christopher, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Christopher: My culinary point of view is through my 20-plus years of cooking professionally; I’m taking all my experiences and everything I’ve done and putting it through a New Orleans lens, where I’m cooking currently.

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