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: Bring Mama Back at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant

by in Shows, October 23rd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“My job here is intense, to say the least,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant in St. Louis. This nine-year-old Italian eatery was once profitable, making nearly $1 million in revenue, but after employee theft resulted in more than $70,000 in losses, the business faded, and now husband-and-wife owners Lance and Andrea Ervin face nearly $600,000 worth of debt. But beyond their financial struggles, Andrea was overwhelmed by her situation, so Robert’s mission was twofold: Give Mama Campisi’s the tools it needs to succeed again, and help Andrea and her family regain their trust in their restaurant. After just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Campisi’s with an inspired menu, a transformed interior and the skills needed to ensure future profits. FN Dish checked in with Andrea and Lance to find how the business is doing today.

“Business seems to have picked up,” Andrea said. “We were able get a couple [people] paid in full, however, due to the repairs that had to be done, we have been at a standstill right now.”

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Connected: Wired Magazine Digs Up Tasty Food Data with FoodNetwork.com

by in News, October 23rd, 2013

Wired Pie ChartIt’s a big month at Food Network. As the network celebrates its 20th birthday and its fans gear up for the year’s biggest food holiday, Thanksgiving, its website took the spotlight in Wired’s November issue. Wired’s editors looked at the site’s nearly 50,000 recipes and its almost 1 million comments to answer, once and for all, questions about what foods Americans are cooking and how. With kid-friendly classics like hamburgers and pasta with meatballs to dressed-up dishes like risotto, creme brulee and souffles — and seemingly every imaginable meal in between — FoodNetwork.com’s database offered the ultimate one-stop resource for number-crunching of the recipe sort. What resulted was an impressive eight-page spread: one of the most exhaustive data collections to date and a better understanding of what we’re putting on the family table.

Just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Wired investigated one of the most celebrated slivers of FoodNetwork.com — Thanksgiving Central — to offer “The Only Thanksgiving Guide You Want.” This course-by-course breakdown encompasses not only deliciously simple seasonal recipes and how-tos to help you shop for these dishes, but also interactive charts that allow for easy decision-making when selecting between the many mashed potato, stuffing, gravy and pie offerings available. Just take your pick among recipes that require “Marathon Shopping” and “Slaving at the Stove,” or opt for the “Labors of Love” or something “Quick and Easy,” and serve up a holiday-worthy feast in a flash.

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Best 5 Halloween Desserts

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 23rd, 2013

Candy Bucket CakeEven if you won’t be trick-or-treating this year, your sweet tooth will likely start acting up a bit more than usual as Halloween nears. After all, kids and kids at heart would surely agree that this spooky holiday means but one thing: sugar. Instead of resorting to store-bought chocolates or caramel-filled, peanut-topped candies to curb your cravings, however, make your own ghostly goodies at home in the form of decadent Halloween desserts that both little goblins and grownups will enjoy. Check out Food Network’s top-five treats below to find sweet tooth-satisfying recipes ideal for family-friendly indulgences and fright night bashes alike.

5. Chocolate Candy Pie — Save time in the kitchen by starting with a prepared pie crust, then fill it with a rich chocolate pudding and finish with fluffy whipped cream and your favorite crushed chocolate candies. It’s important that this pie freeze for a few hours so the flavors and textures can set, so it’s best to plan ahead before making and serving.

4. Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Apples — Perhaps the ultimate autumn indulgence, Giada’s triple-coated apples feature a first layer of gooey caramel, then a drizzle of melted dark chocolate, and finally a sprinkle of crunchy nuts, sprinkles and candies. Set up a DIY decorating bar, and let everyone create his or her preferred apples.

Get the top-three recipes

Watch the Top 5 Meltdowns on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, October 23rd, 2013


No matter their reasons for emotional collapses — financial stress, relationship conflicts, personal pressures, employee anxiety — countless restaurant owners and staff members featured on Restaurant: Impossible have experienced meltdowns on the show. They’ve ranged from minor disagreements and temper tantrum-like behavior to full-blown screaming, door slamming and people ultimately walking out during filming. Robert Irvine and his team of designers and contractors have been there to witness each disastrous falling apart, and together with the help of staff members’ friends and family, they’re almost always able to remedy the situation. But before peace is restored on set, cameras capture each calamitous moment.

Click the play button the video above to watch a video mash-up of the five most unforgettable meltdowns ever featured on the series. Then tune in to the Season 7 premiere of Restaurant: Impossible tonight at 10pm/9cto see the owner of Mama Campisi’s Restaurant struggle to contain her emotions on set. Watch more top-five video mashups from Restaurant: Impossible, including emotional reveals, dirtiest restaurants and stubborn owners.

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Catch Geoffrey and Food Network Friends on the Radio Tomorrow

by in Food Network Chef, October 22nd, 2013

Geoffrey Zakarian on Food TalkYou’ve surely seen him on television as a Chopped judge and as an Iron Chef  America superstar in Kitchen Stadium, and you may have even seen him in person at some of his restaurants. But come tomorrow you can hear from Geoffrey Zakarian in one of the most unlikely of places: the radio. For only the third time ever, Geoffrey is teaming up with SiriusXM radio to host a Food Talk broadcast, and the latest show premieres tomorrow, Wednesday, at 7am EST on Stars Channel 106.

This past weekend brought together the most renowned names in the culinary industry at the sixth annual New York City Wine & Food Festival, and Geoffrey kicked off the celebration last Friday by bringing together some of your favorite Food Network stars, including Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson and Jeff Mauro, plus his fellow members on the Chopped panel, for relaxed chats — and plenty of laughs. Huddled in a studio at the SiriusXM headquarters high atop Manhattan, Geoffrey and his guests munched on sweet and savory bites from his restaurant The National, and dished about some of the most-talked-about topics in the food industry today.

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Alton Brown Is Bringing Back the Bow Tie

by in Food Network Chef, News, October 21st, 2013

Alton BrownHe may be a famed food-science guru, the longtime host of Iron Chef America and a revered judge-mentor on Food Network Star, but for the first time, Alton Brown is stepping out of the kitchen and designing something other than food. In partnership with hook + Albert, a brand specializing in men’s accessories, Alton’s launched an all-new line of bow ties called The Alton Brown Collection.

The Alton Brown Collection“Basically, these are ties I wanted for myself but couldn’t find,” Alton told Food Network of his idea to begin this venture. He’s been a frequent wearer of bow ties for years, but until now, they’ve been designed and styled by others. This look, however, is wholly his own.

Pieces of The Alton Brown Collection include neutral-colored blacks and whites, plus bright hues like blues, oranges and reds, but what makes the bow ties unique is their patterns and textures. They feature a mix of stripes, specks and plaids, and all come together in harmonious looks. “They’re eccentric but wearable and very clothes-friendly,” Alton explains. “What we’ve done with this collection is hopefully made bow ties that will even appeal to guys who have never given bow ties a thought.”

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Lentils with Fried Eggs — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 21st, 2013

Lentils with Fried EggsWhen it comes to vegetarian cooking, sometimes all it takes is a little extra protein to transform a seemingly sidelike dish into the star of any meal. Red, black, or white beans, seasoned tofu or a scoop of quinoa all beef up green salads, simply roasted vegetables and whole grains quickly, churning out a finished product that was not only easy to prepare but also hearty enough to count as a full meal. Eggs, too, are a go-to source of filling protein, and given their versatility — think options for scrambling, poaching and frying — they pair well with a myriad of dishes.

Food Network Magazine uses this idea to create its Lentils with Fried Eggs, a quick-to-make recipe full of bold flavors. Start by sauteing shallots and celery with thyme, then add a splash of vinegar and pinch of sugar to balance the acidic taste, and mix in diced tomatoes and brown lentils for substance. After just a few minutes of cooking, add tangy Dijon mustard and fresh parsley, and top each serving of lentils with a butter-fried egg. You’ll want something to sop up the remnants of the rich runny egg yolk and sweet-savory tomato sauce, and for that, soft pita bread is just what’s needed.

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Struggling for Simplicity — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, October 20th, 2013


While the sabotages dealt to chefs on Cutthroat Kitchen may be downright devious and may cause the competitors to rethink their culinary approaches, the dishes they’re tasked to cook are, in fact, straightforward. Common plates like tacos, cupcakes, fried chicken and burritos have made appearances in the past, and all Alton asks of the contestants is that they create these meals for the judge. It sounds easy enough — until he reveals unknown curve balls, like mandatory ingredients and inferior cooking utensils, of course. It’s these challenging sabotages that cause — or, perhaps, force — the chefs to abandon all aspects of simplicity and ultimately reinvent the dishes as next-level versions.

Although this week’s battle indeed featured its share of sabotages, judge Antonia Lofaso told Alton Brown on the host’s After-Showthat the chefs’ culinary offerings could have been stronger, if only they had not tried to make the dishes complicated and too unlike the originals. In Round 2, one chef was given leftover fried rice to feature in jambalaya, and rather than merely steam it to outfit it with the proper texture, he or she turned it into rice patties, but the rice wasn’t apparent. “You would have been starting with a product that you can have control over,” Antonia told Alton. “[The chef] could have just resuscitated it, but instead [the competitor] ground it into a paste,” Alton added. “I would have simply just used it.”

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Guy Throws the Ultimate Broadway Bash at Times Square Restaurant

by in Events, October 20th, 2013

Guy FieriWho knew that Guy Fieri was such a Broadway enthusiast? Turns out that the host of Guy’s Grocery Games (Sundays 8pm/7c) is a theatergoer after all, and on Saturday he celebrated his love of the live stage by hosting a party inspired by one of his favorite shows, Rock of Ages, during the New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Guy FieriStanding tall atop the second-floor bar at his restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, Guy told the packed crowd that he and his family have seen the musical and enjoy its ’80-style jams, so it was only fitting for him to invite the cast to belt out some of their signature tunes right then and there, as the show’s theater is located just steps away from his Times Square eatery. It didn’t take long for the scene soon to turn into a dance party when Guy manned the microphone on stage and added his own rock-and-roll twist to the cast’s performance.

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Sandwich King Jeff Mauro Awards Soup’er Sandwich Trophy to Delicatessen

by in Events, October 20th, 2013

Jeff MauroWhen it comes to sandwiches, no one knows or respects the intricacies of this timeless favorite quite like Food Network’s own Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro. At Saturday’s Soup’er Sandwich event during the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival, Jeff gathered more than two dozen of his fellow sandwich enthusiasts at Manhattan’s Hudson Hotel, and together they celebrated all things meaty, cheesy and saucy between bread, as well as the ultimate accompaniment to sandwiches: soup.

Not one to stick with ordinary PB&Js or the everyday ham-and-cheese, Jeff offered the crowd of guests a dinnerlike sandwich, The Sloppy Greek (pictured left). FN Dish caught up with the host at his station, and he broke down each component of his signature sandwich: “Ground lamb, slowly seared and cooked with red wine, a bunch of spices [and] garlic, homemade feta tzatziki sauce with a little mint in there [and] cucumber-banana pepper relish served on a Martin’s potato roll.” What resulted was a bold, flavorful “Greek-inspired spin on a sloppy joe,” according to Jeff. “It’s delicious,” he added, and his fans surely agreed, given that he ran out of bread not long into the afternoon.

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