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.

Introducing: Antonio Sabato Jr. from the Chopped Celebrity Holiday Bash

by in Shows, November 28th, 2013

Antonio Sabato, Jr.For one night only, the Chopped Kitchen will turn into a celebrity playground as four television stars take their places at the stove and cook against the clock in three rounds of Chopped competition. Teri Hatcher, Anthony Anderson, Antonio Sabato Jr. and Dawn Wells will face off in the first-ever Celebrity Holiday Bash on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 10pm/9c, and in the spirit of the season, they’ll find holiday-themed ingredients in each of their baskets. While these all-stars may be after personal culinary vindication and lasting bragging rights in the kitchen, they’re also competing for charity, and the winner will ultimately be able to donate $10,000 to the organization of his or her choice.

To prepare for this all-star extravaganza, FN Dish is introducing you to each of the celebrities. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Antonio Sabato Jr., the Rome-born model who played Jagger Cates on General Hospital. Read on below to hear from Antonio, learn about his favorite dish to cook, and find out his guilty pleasure food, a must-have at his last supper and more. Then check back tomorrow for another one-on-one interview.

What’s your background in cooking?
Antonio Sabato Jr: I was born in Italy, so you would think I am a pretty good cook. Basically what my cooking background is whatever I’ve learned from my parents I kind of do and redo and kind of just put my touch to it. I wouldn’t call myself a chef, but I do enjoy myself cooking some stuff. I kind of improvise as I go. I go in the kitchen and I find what’s there, and make it up as I go. I don’t follow recipes or anything of that sort of stuff.

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Restaurant Revisited: Unlucky Number Seven at Seven

by in Shows, November 27th, 2013

Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Seven restaurant in La Porte, Ind., he found that the restaurant was suffering from the trifecta of issues: poor food, drab decor and weak management. Owners Tonya and Chad, who are engaged, named the business after their blended family of seven children, including Tonya’s son Jake, who’s a cook at the eatery. It was up to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to use their $10,000 budget and two-day timeline to overhaul both the menu and interior design at Seven, and work with the family to give the business the second chance at success it deserves. FN Dish checked in with Tonya a few weeks after the restaurant reopened to find out how it’s faring since Robert left.

“The first week we tripled our sales and have nearly doubled our sales every week since the show,” Tonya explains. “While everything is amazing, our favorite part of the renovation is the sevens in the foyer and the lights above the hostess station that all seven kids got to paint.”

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Introducing: Teri Hatcher from the Chopped Celebrity Holiday Bash

by in Shows, November 27th, 2013

Teri HatcherFor one night only, the Chopped Kitchen will turn into a celebrity playground as four television stars take their places at the stove and cook against the clock in three rounds of Chopped competition. Teri Hatcher, Anthony Anderson, Antonio Sabato Jr. and Dawn Wells will face off in the first-ever Celebrity Holiday Bash on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 10pm/9c, and in the spirit of the season, they’ll find holiday-themed ingredients in each of their baskets. While these all-stars may be after personal culinary vindication and lasting bragging rights in the kitchen, they’re also competing for charity, and the winner will ultimately be able to donate $10,000 to the organization of his or her choice.

To prepare for this all-star extravaganza, FN Dish is introducing you to each of the celebrities. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Teri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and, most recently, Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives. Read on below to hear from Teri, learn about her experience in the kitchen, and find out her most-memorable meal, must-have kitchen tool and more. Then check back tomorrow for another one-on-one interview.

What’s your background in cooking?
Teri Hatcher: I have cooked my whole life, but … my parents used to pay me a quarter to cook dinner for them when I was … an early young teenager because they both worked. And I have cooked really big sort of traditional Christmas Eve dinners for, like, 25 people or Thanksgiving. But I feel like, especially when you’re thinking about in comparison to this show or being a quote unquote chef … it’s totally different to be able to follow a recipe than to be able to cook. So I’m definitely a really great recipe follower.

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Best 5 Thanksgiving Cocktails

by in Drinks, Holidays, November 27th, 2013

Hot ToddThe beauty of making cocktails is that beyond a stocked liquor cabinet, it takes few extra ingredients to mix up a drink that’s every bit as party-ready as it is deliciously satisfying. With just some pantry spices, a splash of milk or fresh fruit, you can transform the everyday shaken sipper into a dressed-up drink worthy of a celebration. When it comes to seasonal cocktails for the holidays, try warming up some of the liquor for a comforting cup, and opt for fragrant spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to add flavors that will naturally complement what you’re eating. Check out Food Network’s top-five Thanksgiving cocktails below from Giada, Sunny, Alton and more chefs to find the ultimate collection of drinks that are ideal for Turkey Day entertaining.

5. Dolan’s Delicious Hot Buttered Rum — Swapping in hot water for the hot milk will offer a thinner consistency to this classically rich cocktail, finished with a floating pat of butter and a dusting of nutmeg before serving.

4. Spiced Bourbon, Beer and Maple Martinis — To make sure you get the most flavor possible out of her sweet and spicy cocktail, Giada recommends shaking the bourbon, beer and syrup with ice cubes and chilling the martini glasses. She serves each drink with a chile for subtle heat and a striking presentation.

Get the top-three recipes

Watch the Top 5 Worst Staff Moments on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, November 26th, 2013


No matter how efficient and accommodating its owners may be, if an eatery’s kitchen and front of the house staff members aren’t all committed to their jobs, their negative attitudes could ultimately put the business at risk of failure. After all, it’s the waiters who most often interact with diners and the kitchen employees who prepare their food, so much of what guests experience is the result of these workers. That’s why when Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossibleteam visit struggling establishments,

they need each and every staff member — not just the owners or core management — to accept the transformation and be willing to make changes toward improvement. For some, these revisions are easy to assume, but others don’t agree with Robert’s recommendations as readily, and what results is often temper tantrums, pointed fingers and, in some cases, downright mayhem.

In the more than six seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, the show has seen employees quit unexpectedly, get fired on the spot and storm out of the eatery, all while being filmed. Click the play button on the video above to relive the top-five worst staff moments ever recorded, then tune in to an all-new episode of Restaurant: Impossible tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10pm/9c to watch Robert tackle his latest mission.

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Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine, Fast — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, November 25th, 2013

Lemon-Pepper FettuccineWith the Thanksgiving feast just days away, your mind is likely elsewhere at this very moment, consumed with last-minute menu planning, frequent runs to the grocery store and the requisite home organization to prepare for out-of-town guests. But no matter how long your Turkey Day to-do list may be, the question of tonight’s dinner remains, and on nights like these, only one kind of meal will fit the bill: fast.

Thanks to Food Network Magazine’s family-friendly recipe for Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine (pictured above), it’s indeed possible to get supper on the table in only 20 quick minutes. Perhaps the best part about this pasta is that its list of ingredients includes everyday items you likely have on hand already — so there’s no need for an additional trip to the supermarket. As the hearty fettuccine is boiling, get to work on this simple sauce. Start by sauteing sweet shallots in butter, then add a mixture of cream and lemon zest plus nutty pecorino cheese for contrasting rich and refreshing flavors. The secret flavor weapon of this sauce comes at the very end when you add up to three teaspoons of pepper; this seasoning will add a bold punch of flavor and complement the citrus as well. Be sure to save a bit of the pasta water after draining the noodles, as you might need some to thin out the sauce as you’re mixing the dish together.

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Damaris Phillips’ Top Tips for Making Biscuits and Gravy

by in Food Network Chef, November 25th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsJust in time for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips, a lifelong southerner with a knack for baking and the host of Southern at Heart, is demystifying biscuit making so that you can skip the store-bought tubes of dough and make your own buttery beauties at home. This Kentucky native is known for enjoying her biscuits with gravy for breakfast, and just last month she took the stage with fellow Food Network Star alum Justin Warner at the New York City Wine & Food Festival to fuse her classic recipe with another morning favorite: bagels and lox. She walked fans through the step-by-step of creating this hybrid breakfast while chatting about basic biscuit-and-gravy how-tos, like simple tricks for cutting biscuits and the importance of cooking the flour in the gravy roux. Read on below to get Damaris’ top-six tips, then try her recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peppered Pork Loin, Apple Mustard Butter and Salad.

1. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy biscuit cutter at home; a round glass will do the trick.

2. There are two kinds of biscuits: flaky and cakey. Damaris prefers the cakey variety, as they’re better suited for sopping up gravy, so consider this if you plan on serving your biscuits with gravy as well.

3. When making the roux for the gravy — the mixture of fat (here, butter) and flour — it’s important to let the flour cook for a bit so it loses its raw flavor. The more you cook it, the darker the roux will be.

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

by in Shows, November 21st, 2013

Restaurant DividedFor Phil and Robin Schmidt, the struggling business at Phamous Phil’s BBQ & Grille didn’t just lead to an inability to pay bills; it created a significant amount of tension in their marriage as well. These husband-and-wife owners run the nearly four-year-old eatery in Collegeville, Pa., but after accruing $140,000 of debt, they decided to welcome Rocco DiSpirito and his Restaurant Divided team to the restaurant in the hopes of jump-starting profitability once and for all. They both realized the need for change, although Robin’s idea for pursuing a chop house concept in place of the barbecue menu didn’t appeal to Phil, who was committed to his smoky offerings.

Before Rocco could attempt to salvage Phamous Phil’s, and ultimately Phil and Robin’s marriage, he divided it, separating the space into two restaurants — a made-over Phamous Phil’s run by Phil himself and Robin’s Chop Shop, complete with mahogany-clad walls — for only one night of service. He worked with both teams to create deliciously approachable menus, and when the eateries opened to local diners and critics alike, both Phil and Robin managed to dish out crowd-pleasing plates. After examining the restaurants’ likelihoods of success, he ultimately reopened the business as Phamous Phil’s, as it offered the greatest opportunity for lasting viability.

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Photos: Food Network Kitchens Prepare for Thanksgiving Live

by in Shows, November 21st, 2013

Food Network KitchensMuch like you’re probably spending the week preparing for next Thursday’s Turkey Day feast, so too has Food Network Kitchens been pulling out all of the stops to get ready for the third-annual Thanksgiving Live, airing Saturday at 12pm EST. This year’s all-star bash will include returning stars Bobby, Giada and Alton, plus first-time Thanksgiving Live guest Ina. But before these Thanksgiving pros take over Food Network Kitchens to answer your questions, it’s up to the team in the kitchens to buy each and every ingredient needed for the chefs’ dishes — as well as to gather the utensils, pans and serving pieces needed to prepare them — and transform the test kitchens into a seasonal space worthy of a holiday celebration.

FN Dish headed to Food Network Kitchens to get the first look at the preparations going on behind the scenes, and what we found was no fewer than six knife blocks, dozens of pots and pans in every imaginable size and shape, and both wooden and plastic cutting boards, plus specialized tools to help Bobby, Giada, Alton and Ina prepare their dishes with ease. Check out these insider snapshots to take a peek inside Food Network Kitchens and find out what you can expect to see on TV come Saturday at 12pm EST.

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#TBT: Jeff Mauro

by in Food Network Chef, November 21st, 2013

Jeff MauroIt’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.

While Jeff Mauro is now a firmly ingrained Food Network chef, his first days on TV weren’t actually as a star — instead, he was a star in the making, as he was one of 15 finalists to compete on Food Network Star, Season 7.

During the run of the competition in 2011, Jeff offered a sandwich-focused point of view in the kitchen, explaining, “You are only a couple steps away from turning any sandwich into a meal and any meal into one fantastic sandwich.” His unique culinary niche, coupled with his on-camera charm and comedic timing, caught the attention of the Selection Committee, including Food Network executives Bob and Susie, and they ultimately welcomed him to the Food Network family as the first-ever Sandwich King. Jeff’s premiere series, titled after his nickname, aired that summer with a mix of sandwich recipes inspired by his Italian heritage, his hometown of Chicago and some of his favorite meals.

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