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: Goombazz Gone Wild at Goombazz Big City Eatzz

by in Shows, December 18th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleFacing nearly $300,000 of debt, Sally Fatzz and Brenda Brewer turned to Robert Irvine for a restaurant rescue at their eclectic one-year-old restaurant, Goombazz Big City Eatzz, specializing in regional cuisines from around the country. While Sally had enjoyed prior ventures in the restaurant industry, Brenda was new to the restaurant scene, but both recognized their need for a Restaurant: Impossible

transformation if their business was to have any chance at future success. It didn’t take Robert long to realize that this Rock Island, Ill., restaurant was failing largely on account of Sally’s out-of-control temper, which ultimately led to unhappy customers and a dissatisfied staff. With a budget of just $10,000 and only two days to work, Robert and his team overhauled the interior of Goombazz, updated the eatery’s menu, and began mending Sally and Brenda’s relationship. Read on below to hear from both owners and find out how their restaurant is doing today.

Since the transformation, “business is up,” Sally says. “We went from $800 to about $1,200 on weekdays, and [on] Friday and Saturday, $3,000.” He adds that “everyone loves the new decor.” Brenda explains: “The floor is amazing, the bridge mural is beautiful, we love the back bar, but [we] had to add our own lighting, and the kitchen pass-through window being closed up is my favorite change! I also love the fresh flowers on the tables.”

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Best 5 Christmas Brunch Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 18th, 2013

Panettone Bread PuddingWhile Christmas dinner may be the centerpiece meal in most homes come next week’s holiday, brunch isn’t to be forgotten, as it’s often quicker and simpler to prepare than supper, even if you’re cooking for guests. This year, whether you’ll be hosting a crowd on Christmas morning or simply unwrapping presents with your family, enjoy a spread of sweet and savory brunch picks, like crispy peppered bacon, Alton’s golden-brown French toast and Ina’s indulgent bread pudding. Check out Food Network’s top-five Christmas brunch picks below to find these recipes and more to complete your holiday celebration.

5. Breakfast Casserole — Filled with all of your favorite breakfast components — bread, eggs, sausage, potatoes and gooey cheese — this big-batch casserole can be assembled the night before and baked when you’re ready to enjoy it on Christmas morning.

4. Maple-Pepper Bacon — No matter what else you’re serving at brunch, be sure to round out the meal with a batch of Food Network Magazine’s crispy bacon, baked instead of fried, with a sweet and savory topping of maple syrup and pepper.

Get the top-three recipes

Michael Symon’s Holiday Must-Haves

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 18th, 2013

Michael SymonWhether it’s enjoying Grandma’s sprinkles-dusted sugar cookies and marshmallow-studded hot cocoa by her fireplace, singing along with your favorite carols in the car, or curling up on the couch and watching timeless Christmas movies, holiday rituals are an essential part of the season. For many, the celebration simply wouldn’t be complete without certain traditions. Just in time for the upcoming holidays, FN Dish sat down with Iron Chef Michael Symon during a recent trip to Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to find out how he celebrates the season. Although much of his work takes him to New York City, he’ll be celebrating in his hometown of Cleveland this year, and when it comes to his seasonal sipper of choice, he’ll reach for rich hot cocoa over eggnog any day. Read on below to hear from Michael and learn more of his holiday must-haves.

Hot cocoa or eggnog: Hot cocoa

Gingerbread or sugar cookies: Gingerbread

The movie Christmas Vacation or Elf: Christmas Vacation

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Watch the Top 5 Sledgehammer Moments on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, December 17th, 2013

When Robert Irvine takes on a mission at a failing business, he’s not alone in the challenge; he brings with him his entire Restaurant: Impossible team, which includes a construction manager and designer. But although he has dedicated colleagues to help him carry out the physical transformation of an eatery, Robert isn’t shy about getting involved in the overhaul. Not only is he quick to share with his team his wish list for a restaurant, but he often takes matters of construction in his own hands.

Throughout the series, Robert’s been known to reach for one trusty tool in particular time and time again: the sledgehammer. He’s often seen wielding this weighted device to bore holes in walls and knock down partitions to better illustrate to his team just what updates he’d like to see. It’s up to Robert’s construction team to simply don their protective eyewear and watch as Robert makes the move in renovation.

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Giada’s Guide to Edible Gift-Giving

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 16th, 2013

Whether it’s a small family gathering, an open-house cocktail party or a dressed-up sit-down dinner, entertaining during the holiday season can be daunting for even the most-prepared host. That’s why it’s often a good idea to surprise the party-thrower with a small gift as a token of appreciation for his or her hospitality and generosity. Some resort to bringing candles, picture frames or other household trinkets, but deciding what matches the host’s style and taste can be tricky, which is why Giada opts for edible gifts.

Giada recently shared a few go-to edible gift ideas that are sure to impress your hosts this holiday, as they include some of her favorite seasonal recipes. Instead of elaborate dishes that might take up valuable refrigerator or oven space at the host’s home, Giada prepares simple cookies and cocktails that are both easy to transport and simple to store once given. The key to her gifts is in the packaging: She makes the goodies extra-special by stashing them in see-through containers and adorning them with colorful bows.

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Weeknight Chili — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 16th, 2013

Weeknight Two-Bean ChiliWhile some dishes — like meatballs and burgers — struggle to keep their identities when you take away the meat, chilis, soups and stews hold up well without it. Chili is naturally beefy and rich. Most chilis, meatless or not, are traditionally made with beans, and in the case of vegetarian cooking, it’s that hefty protein that adds hearty substance to the meat-free dish.

Food Network Kitchens relies on kidney and black beans to be the base of this recipe for Weeknight Two-Bean Chili (pictured above), a fuss-free dinner that’s ready to eat in 30 quick minutes. Laced with jalapeno, onions and crushed tomatoes, this one-pan chili is given an added boost of flavor from bold chili powder and a pinch of Chinese five-spice, which Food Network Kitchens say “is a nice spice surprise.” If you don’t like kidney or black beans, just substitute two of your favorite varieties. Serve the chili atop rice to round out the meal, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese for a decadent finish.

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A Southern Holiday Season with Damaris Phillips

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 16th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsWhether it be staying true to the Southern food she grew up eating or every year bringing the same dish to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner, Damaris Phillips is all about tradition, and there’s perhaps no more important time for tradition than the holidays. For Damaris, this season of celebration means just a few things — family, food and love — and that hasn’t changed since she was a young girl growing up with her five siblings in Louisville, Ky. Just in time for Christmas, FN Dish sat down with Damaris in Louisville to find out more about what the holidays looked like for her when she was a child and to chat about how she celebrates today. Read on below to hear from Damaris and to learn the must-have item at her Christmas dinner, her favorite holiday song and movie, and her sweet alternative to eggnog.

How did you celebrate the holidays growing up?
Damaris Phillips: With my family. There’s a bunch of siblings and so we’d would go downstairs in the morning. We’d wake my parents up. My mom would make, like, quiche or cinnamon rolls or something, and we’d go downstairs and there was always, like, bags of our presents. Our parents were really good at, like, not wrapping Santa presents, so if there was, like, a bicycle, there’d be just a bicycle there waiting for you. And then we would hang out and play with toys — and eat lots of food. I mean, just exactly like you think of Christmas …. It used to be the whole world went still and it was just a time to hang out with your family. So thankfully I had all those siblings, so it was always fun, and we were playing with new toys and probably driving my parents bonkers, but it was awesome.

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Hot-Iron Woes and a Chilly Ball of Ice Cream — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 15th, 2013


Having been a judge on the premiere season of Cutthroat Kitchen, Simon Majumdar is no stranger to the tricks and challenges that befall competitors in each round of cooking, but after eating set cheese and soupy ice cream on tonight’s all-new Season 2 premiere, he needed a few clarifications on how the dishes came to be. Host Alton Brown — who’s not only privy to the sabotages, but in charge of auctioning them off as well — filled in Simon during the latest installment of his After-Show.

It turns out that the patty melt-inspired dish that Chef Stratton gave Simon was mushroom-heavy on account of the Freeze Dried Meat product he was forced to work with after Chef Wiginton assigned it to him. “There was no patty in the dish, really,” Simon told Alton. “It was mushroom-heavy, and I guess that’s what he did to try and compensate, but it kind of overcompensated a bit.” This ingredient was so unlike fresh meat that it prevented Chef Stratton from turning it into a traditional patty.

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One-on-One with the Winner of Restaurant Express

by in Shows, December 15th, 2013

Restaurant ExpressAfter seven weeks of showdowns, Robert Irvine‘s first-ever Restaurant Express road trip came full circle when the bus rolled into Sin City for the finale. Robert shocked the remaining three hopefuls last week when he announced all of them would make it to tonight’s all-or-nothing competition. But while Adam Goldgell was guaranteed a spot in the last challenge, Jan Charles and Seonkyoung Longest had to go head-to-head in a cook-off for the chance to join him in one night of restaurant service for the chance to claim the win.

Read on below to find out whether Jan or Seon advanced to the end, and get the exclusive first interview with the winner of Restaurant Express and Las Vegas’ newest restaurateur.

SPOILER ALERT: Hear from the winner

One-on-One with Marc Forgione

by in Food Network Chef, December 14th, 2013

Marc ForgioneThis fall, FN Dish introduced you to Marc Forgione‘s brand-new steakhouse in New York City, American Cut, and looked back on the Iron Chef’s last three years of battle in Kitchen Stadium. But what else is there to know about Marc beyond his experience as a restaurateur and the fierce competition he brings to Iron Chef America? FN Dish sat down with Marc to learn about his personal food preferences, go-to kitchen utensil, must-have at his last supper and least-favorite ingredient. Read on below to hear what Marc had to say and find out more about his culinary tastes.

What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Marc Forgione: I’m not a huge fan of monkfish liver.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
MF: Blood clams.

What’s your guilty pleasure food?
MF: I love New York City sliced pizza.

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