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.

Best 5 Thanksgiving Desserts

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 20th, 2013

Lemon Meringue PieNo matter if you’ll be brining your turkey or deep-frying it, whipping sweet potatoes or smashing golden spuds, stuffing the bird or serving the dressing alongside it, one thing is certain about your Thanksgiving spread: There will indeed be dessert. This year, in addition to the classic apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake, serve a mix of creative, crowd-pleasing treats, like Sunny’s mini pumpkin pies, Giada’s turkey-decorated cookies and Alton’s deliciously tart lemon pie. Check out Food Network’s top-five Thanksgiving desserts below to find recipes for these family-friendly picks, plus more sweet inspiration for your Turkey Day feast.

5. Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies — Use tiny muffin tins to shape pecan-studded dough into sweet cups, then fill them with a mixture of pumpkin and vanilla, and finish each with a pecan for an extra-special presentation.

4. Thanksgiving Turkeys — Giada starts with store-bought cream-filled sandwich cookies to make these kid-approved cookies, decorated with seasonal candies and colored frosting to transform them into turkey look-alikes.

Get the top-three recipes

Watch the Top 5 Dirtiest Restaurants on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, November 19th, 2013


While some businesses on Restaurant: Impossible struggle with problems that are in full view of the customers, like a feuding wait staff or dingy carpeting and chipped paint in the dining room, others’ issues are trapped behind closed doors in the kitchen. It’s only when Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrive and shine a light on the back of the house that the horrible truths of some eateries’ kitchens are revealed.

Over the years on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert has discovered a range of uncleanliness in restaurant kitchens — some simply untidy and many in need of a solid scrubbing. But then there are those that are infested with insects, have surfaces caked in several years’ worth of grease and are outfitted with refrigerators full of spoiling food. The cleaning of these establishments often requires not only time and money from Robert’s budget, but also a serious lesson from the host himself on how to maintain proper food standards in the restaurant.

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Italian Eggplant Gnocchi Bake — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, November 18th, 2013

Italian Eggplant Gnocchi BakeFor most, the goal come dinnertime is to serve your family a healthy, satisfying meal, something that offers a main element plus a vegetable side or salad. But between limited time to shop for ingredients and the need to get food on the table quickly, offering a complete, well-rounded meal can be difficult. Enter the all-in-one dinner. Boasting built-in vegetables, it’s easy to serve your kids a hefty portion of nutrition for the night, as it’s already incorporated. Stir-fries are timeless one-pan suppers that can be customized to whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand, as are casseroles, which often come complete with every element of the meal.

Food Network Kitchens offer a family-friendly casserole that’s easy enough to make on a weeknight with their recipe for Italian Eggplant Gnocchi Bake (pictured above). While homemade gnocchi can be tedious to prepare, especially on school nights, store-bought gnocchi promises convenience without sacrificing flavor. Pick up a package to star in this 55-minute dinner, laced with tender sauteed eggplant, prepared roasted garlic tomato sauce and just a pinch of red pepper flakes for subtle heat. Once the ingredients have been combined, cover them with a layer of creamy provolone cheese and bake the casserole for just a few minutes until the cheese becomes deliciously gooey and golden brown.

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One-on-One with Marc Murphy: Inside His New Restaurant, Kingside

by in Food Network Chef, November 16th, 2013

Marc Murphy's KingsideWhile so many restaurateurs struggle to launch and maintain businesses in New York City, Chef Marc Murphy appears to have found the secret to success. When this Chopped judge isn’t joining his fellow panel members at the table in reviewing contestants’ best attempts at basket dishes, he’s busy running restaurant kitchens at his five Manhattan restaurants: two locations each of Ditch Plains and Landmarc, plus his newest venture, Kingside. Having opened just last month, Marc’s Kingside is the first of his restaurants to reside in a hotel, and it is his only “new-American” menu, featuring a list of offerings with French, Spanish and Italian influences. FN Dish caught up with Marc at Kingside, located in midtown Manhattan’s Viceroy Hotel, to chat about his latest project, learn more about his goals in opening the restaurant and find out how he manages his busy schedules, both in the kitchen and on Chopped. Read on below to hear from Marc, then browse exclusive snapshots to take a photo tour of Kingside and see some of Marc’s most-popular dishes at Kingside.

What are you most excited about in opening Kingside?
Marc Murphy: I haven’t done a new concept in about five years, and in those five years, I think I’ve gotten a lot more popularity on Chopped, and I think a lot of the times people are like, “Oh, those chefs on TV kind of thing,” and I’m like, “Well, yeah, I’m still a working chef,” and I love doing what I do, and I’m excited to be able to produce new food and [a] new concept to my beautiful city.

How is Kingside different from your other restaurants, Ditch Plains and Landmarc?
MM: I guess I’ve opened myself up to be able to do different cuisines here, in the sense we’re calling it “new American,” where I can really sort of branch out and pull different influences from other countries, like Spain. You sort of let loose a bit with new-American cuisine, I feel. I can have a little more liberties, because Ditch Plains is really a New York-style fish shack, so I kind of have to stay within that vocabulary, and Landmarc is a bistro with some Italian influences, so you can’t start making sushi if you’re doing a bistro. I feel as though if somebody is going to come to your restaurant, you have to sort of keep true to what the concept is.

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Marc Forgione Looks Back on Three Years as an Iron Chef

by in Food Network Chef, November 16th, 2013

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneWith almost three years of Iron Chef America battles behind him since winning The Next Iron Chef, Marc Forgione is in no way the rookie of Kitchen Stadium anymore — after all, Iron Chefs Zakarian and Guarnaschelli have both accepted the famed title after him. He clinched the win in 2010, and from that point on he’s been reinventing the secret ingredients to make Chairman-worthy plates in each and every battle, and challenging not only his opposing chefs but also himself to compete at a higher level. Fresh off the opening of his third New York City restaurant, American Cut, FN Dish sat down with Marc to reflect on the past few years of Kitchen Stadium contests and to find out how he balances the demands of restaurant cooking and Iron Chef competitions. Read on below to hear from Iron Chef Forgione and learn which of his restaurants’ dishes he’s re-created on television and more.

It’s been almost three years since you won The Next Iron Chef. What’s been the most-surprising thing you’ve learned in that time?
Marc Forgione: Especially being in New York City, you can’t — whether you want to or not — you can’t rest on your laurels. There’ll be somebody just as hungry, or hungrier, or just as hungry as you were right there waiting for you to fall down so that they can start taking your customers and people can start talking about them. New York is the cliche: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But once you get there, it’s tough to stay there. You have to make sure that you can.

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Diner vs. BBQ: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, November 14th, 2013

Restaurant Divided“Anytime you mix friendship with business, there’s always inherent conflict, and you can see it’s sort of coming to the surface,” Restaurant Divided‘s Rocco DiSpirito said not long after arriving at Against Da Grill, a Staten Island, N.Y., eatery specializing in diner-style classics. Co-owners Kurron Mangin and Vinny Lima — the chef and the business manager at Against Da Grill, respectively — are longtime best friends facing imminent closure of their restaurant if they can’t turn around the business. While Kurron is committed to maintaining the original diner concept at Against Da Grill, Vinny believes a change is in order and proposed they begin serving traditional barbecue instead. “I feel that the Island is missing that,” Vinny explained. “If we could bring something that no one else is doing, we have a better chance at success.”

The team at Against Da Grill is a tightknit one: The staff is like family, and the restaurant is well-ingrained in the community. So for Rocco to decide what the best next step should be for Against Da Grill, he ultimately divided it. After a complete interior overhaul and menu redesign, Kurron served customers at the new Against Da Grill while Vinny ran S.I.Q. on the other side of the restaurant. Rocco listened to customer and critic feedback, tasted dishes from both eateries and reviewed both restaurants’ chances for lasting success before deciding that S.I.Q. offered the most opportunity for viability.

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#TBT: Scott Conant

by in Food Network Chef, November 14th, 2013

Scott ConantIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

Long before Scott Conant took his seat at the judges’ table on Chopped, he spent his days in the kitchens of some of the most-celebrated restaurants in New York City and abroad, earning his reputation as one of the premiere chefs and restaurateurs in the industry. He graduated from culinary school and soon moved to Germany for several years before returning stateside to begin his journey up the culinary ladder, first as a sous chef and eventually as an executive chef at San Domenico and City Eatery, respectively.

Throughout his training, Scott focused much of his attention in the kitchen on his passion for Italian food. He spent time in Italy cooking with renowned chefs and relatives alike, which ultimately inspired within him a style of Italian cuisine all his own. His roster of flavors and ingredients went on to be featured at the forefront of several of his restaurants, including his now-signature eatery, Scarpetta, and in many of the dishes he’s made while competing on Chopped After Hours and Chopped All-Stars.

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Restaurant Revisited: Outside the Box at Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub

by in Shows, November 13th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“The place is clean, a little dark but nothing [like] what I’m used to. So I’m confused why I’m here,” Robert Irvine told Bill and Gail Darling, the owners of Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub in Louisville, Ky. In addition to a tidy space, Robert also found good-tasting food, but it turns out that is where many of the business’ problems laid. The high-priced offerings on the menu — coupled with the too-formal ambiance that comes with white linen tablecloths — weren’t attracting locals, despite their tendency to visit a neighborhood restaurant nearby. Thanks to Robert’s tough-love approach, as well as his Restaurant: Impossible team’s work in transforming the outdoor patio into a welcoming space, however, Coach Lamp relaunched as an inviting, comfortable restaurant. Read on below to hear from Bill and find out how his eatery is doing a few weeks after Robert left.

Since Coach Lamp has reopened, business has jumped nearly 30 percent, according to Bill. “The liquor, beer [and] wine sales are 40 percent of the food sales …. The money is in the bar goods,” he says. “We are seeing more locals visiting.”

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Best 5 Tools and Tips Needed for Thanksgiving Entertaining

by in Holidays, November 13th, 2013

Thanksgiving EntertainingOn Thanksgiving, the holiday ultimately culminates when you finally set on the table a glistening golden-brown turkey featuring crispy skin and juicy, tender meat, and you surround the bird with a bounty of comforting sides and salads. But pulling off a memorable celebration takes patience, planning and a few must-have gadgets to complete the feast. Check out Food Network’s top-five roundups below to find helpful guides for hosting the holiday, the ultimate party-planning calculator and Ted Allen’s simple solutions for easy entertaining.

5. Table Centerpieces and Home Decor — Set the scene on the table with rustic centerpieces made from repurposed household products, like empty wine bottles, and such seasonal ingredients as nuts, fruits and gourds.

4. Table Setting Ideas — Buffet tables can be dressed up with a vibrant tablecloth and a mix of dishes, while sit-down dinner tables can be personalized with handwritten menus, warm-colored flowers and individual serving pieces.

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Watch the Top Emotional Reveals on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, November 13th, 2013


When Robert Irvine visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible, he’s not merely knocking down walls, cleaning kitchens and revamping menus; he’s giving restaurant owners as well as their management and employees the tools they need to improve their business practices and ultimately providing them with the opportunity to guarantee future success. For some owners, Robert’s visit is a last-ditch effort to rescue their restaurants from certain failure. The idea that he has the power to improve all aspects of their business in just two quick days fully comes to life when they first lay eyes on their new restaurants, and it soon becomes too much for them to bear, forcing them to break down and become emotional at the reveal.

While nearly all of the owners are pleased with the refreshed look of their new establishment, many are brought to tears by it — not just because of the changes in decor but because of the positive and necessary opportunities these updates will bring as well. Click the play button on the video above to relive the top-five most emotional reveals ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, then tune in tonight at 10pm/9c to watch an all-new episode.

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