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.

Damaris Phillips Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, October 26th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsYou’ve seen her on Food Network Star, outlasting 11 rival competitors to become the Season 9 winner, and starting this Sunday at 10:30am/9:30c, she’ll star on her first-ever series, Southern at Heart. But Damaris Phillips remains relatively new to the Food Network family and perhaps a bit unknown to her fans. This Kentucky-born culinary school instructor is passionate about her large family, matchmaking in the kitchen and, of course, all things southern. But there’s more to know about Damaris, like her most-detested ingredient, favorite kitchen memory, go-to culinary tool and last supper must-have. FN Dish recently caught up with her in her hometown of Louisville, Ky., and found out the answers to these questions and others. Read on below to hear from Damaris, then browse photos to see her out on the town in Louisville.

What’s your Achilles’-heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Damaris Phillips: Button mushrooms.

What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who — details, please!
DP: I don’t have a most memorable, like one memorable meal, but we had brunch every single Sunday growing up, so when I think about eating with my family, I think about having the same food every Sunday.

Find out more

Host a Kid-Friendly Halloween Party

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 26th, 2013

Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster SammiesOn Halloween, kids — and many grownups — are excited to eat just one simple thing: candy. But while a little indulgence may indeed be called for on the holiday, most moms and dads insist on offering something other than chocolate bars and peanut butter bites to their littlest ghosts and goblins. This year, whether you’re hosting a pre-trick-or-treating get-together with the neighbors or simply making dinner for your family before heading out for the night, serve up a themed menu of spooky eats and drinks to celebrate. These family-friendly recipes below for grilled cheese and tomato soup, chicken lollipops and strawberry-orange punch go a long way in making sure kids’ bellies are full before they start collecting candy.

As comforting as it is hearty, Food Network Kitchens’ Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster Sammies (pictured above) is a top-rated recipe that features a Halloween-worthy twist on a kid-approved pairing: tomato soup and grilled cheese. Here the Kitchens puree tomato-basil soup into a smooth consistency, then serve the warming mixture alongside gooey cheddar-muenster grilled cheeses built on pumpernickel bread. To achieve the ghoulish designs pictured above, opt for a ghost-shaped cookie cutter when shaping the sandwiches.

Get more recipes

Steaks vs. Sports: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, October 25th, 2013

Restaurant DividedBrother and sister Larry and Laura Vecchio, and their mother, Antoinette, were being torn apart over the decision on how to rescue their failing Italian restaurant, Mia Famiglia. And they desperately needed a cohesive plan for the future — not a division in the business or their family. But that’s exactly what Rocco DiSpirito gave them when he arrived at their Long Island City, N.Y., restaurant.

Restaurant DividedOn the series premiere of Restaurant Divided, Rocco and his team transformed the space within Mia Famiglia into two separate restaurants: Larry’s Communal Steak, a chic yet comfortable steakhouse with communal seating, and Laura’s Mac House, a Yankees-clad sports bar specializing in macaroni and cheese. For one night, both eateries served customers side by side and tried to prove their long-term staying power. After hearing from food critics, listening to customers and tasting the food from both menus, however, Rocco decided that the steakhouse offered the Vecchios the best chance for success, and he ultimately reopened Mia Famiglia as Larry’s Communal Steak.

Cast your vote below

#TBT: Aarón Sánchez

by in Food Network Chef, October 24th, 2013

Aaron SanchezIt’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 Aarón Sánchez now spends his Food Network days sending chefs’ dishes straight to the Chopping Block as a judge on Chopped, some of his earliest on the network were spent as the host of Chefs vs. City alongside Chris Cosentino. The guys traveled to a new city each week and challenged local culinary industry insiders to a race against the clock in their own city. Eating, drinking and discovering both famous and little-known dishes and hot spots in the area, Aarón and Chris attempted to prove they could outlast the locals and complete the required battles before their rivals.

Roger Mooking and Aaron SanchezAarón took his competitive spirit with him to Heat Seekers, which found him and Roger Mooking face-to-face with some of spiciest dishes in the country. The challenge on their series was simple: See if you can handle the heat. It was up to Aarón and Roger to track down restaurants known for tongue-scorching foods and sample them firsthand — sometimes ending in clean plates, other times in tears.

Read more

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.”

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.”

Read more