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.

Star-a-Day: Viet Pham

by , May 30th, 2013

Viet PhamYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Viet Pham, 34, was born in Malaysia and moved to California when he was a child. This James Beard Award semi-finalist grew up cooking for his brother at home and later graduated from the California Culinary Academy. Now the owner of a Salt Lake City restaurant, Viet was victorious over Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America Battle Ground Meat and is known for creating globally inspired cuisine.

Click the play button on the video below to watch Viet’s casting video.

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Star-a-Day: Stacey Poon-Kinney

by , May 29th, 2013

Stacey Poon-KinneyYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Having grown up cooking in a food-focused family, Stacey Poon-Kinney, 34, became familiar with the restaurant scene at a young age, thanks to her great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who worked as a chef and a diner owner, respectively. She eventually pursued her passion for dance and performance, but she later teamed up with her father to open The Trails restaurant, which was featured on Restaurant: Impossible. This mother of two now lives in San Diego and runs The Trails.

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Star-a-Day: Russell Jackson

by , May 28th, 2013

Russell JacksonYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Owner of a San Francisco underground supper club, Russell Jackson, 47, competed against Iron Chef Jose Garces in Iron Chef America Battle Rhubarb. He’s been cooking since he was 3 years old, when he first experimented with applesauce in the kitchen. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Russell now specializes in using local, seasonal ingredients to inspire unconventional meals with individual style.

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Grilled Vegetables With Couscous and Yogurt Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 27th, 2013

Grilled Vegetables With Couscous and Yogurt SauceWhether you choose to avoid meat just on Mondays or you follow a strict vegetarian diet every day, the key to enjoying any meatless meal is eating something that offers as much flavor, substance and simplicity as a meaty main dish. Vegetables are go-to picks, of course, since many are naturally quick cooking, and they are full of sweet and savory tastes, plus they feature a range of textures. But for most, a plate of veggies alone hardly constitutes a complete dinner, no matter how fresh and well-seasoned the produce may be. To bulk up vegetables, try serving them with rice and tofu in a stir-fry, with noodles and olive oil in a pasta dish, or with eggs and cheese in an omelet; not only will you’ve stretch the value of the veggies, but you’ll have made the meal more deliciously satisfying, as well.

Food Network Magazine follows a similar notion in its 30-minute recipe for Grilled Vegetables With Couscous and Yogurt Sauce (pictured above) by treating earthy shiitake mushrooms, seasonal squash and mild bell peppers as the meaty entree of the plate and complementing them with a side of couscous, much like you would chicken or steak. Although these vegetables are indeed grilled, you don’t need an outdoor barbecue to prepare them, as they develop a similar char and smoky flavor from an indoor grill pan after just a few minutes of cooking. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of sliced almonds for a textured crunch, and serve it with a creamy, tangy sauce of Greek yogurt, grilled pepper and fresh garlic.

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Star-a-Day: Rodney Henry

by , May 27th, 2013

Rodney HenryYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Owner of several Dangerously Delicious Pies shops, Rodney Henry, 47, lives in Baltimore, and he is known for challenging the meaning of everyday pies by creating sweet and savory interpretations of this all-American classic. This father of two is a former musician who’s appeared on multiple Food Network shows, including Chopped, Down Home With the Neelys and Paula’s Home Cooking.

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Restaurant Revisited: In the Pits at Bryan’s Smokehouse

by in Shows, May 26th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAlthough Bryan’s Smokehouse in Lufkin, Texas, was a once-thriving eatery, it had fallen on hard times. Longtime owner Lynn Bryan struggled to keep up with new nearby barbecue spots, ultimately falling into debt. She looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team not just to improve her meat-focused menu, but to help her manage her employees more professionally and efficiently. Not one to shy away from any challenge, Robert rose to the occasion, and with only a $10,000 budget and two days to work, he revitalized both the interior of Bryan’s and the core of its management, all in an effort to give the eatery the second chance it deserves. FN Dish checked in with Lynn a few months after the transformation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Immediately after filming, Lynn says business “was booming,” and while it’s since slowed down, she’s hopeful that it will pick up now that the show has aired. She adds that she’s pleased with the new design of the space, as well as with the changes to the menu. “We have kept everything the same and just added a couple of the old things back. Just a couple, let me stress,” she explains.

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Star-a-Day: Nikki Dinki

by , May 26th, 2013

Nikki DinkiYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

A food blogger living in New York City, Nikki Dinki, 29, follows a semi-vegetarian diet. After growing up a picky eater, she was determined to change her culinary habits, so she set out to learn how to cook. Nikki’s able to combine her background in acting with her passion for cooking by hosting a cooking show online.

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The Neelys’ Top 5 Summer Grilling Tips

by in Food Network Chef, May 25th, 2013

Pat and Gina NeelyWho better to kick off the season of outdoor cooking and all things barbecued, grilled and smoked than Food Network’s own First Family of Barbecue, Pat and Gina Neely? Together, this culinary power couple has been known to put their signature spins on authentic Tennessee ribs, comforting potato salads, and traditional grilled chicken alike — the must-have dishes for the ultimate summer cookout. FN Dish caught up with the Neelys at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this year to chat about what it takes to master the grill at home and to learn their secrets to better barbecue. At a live cooking demonstration on the beach with their fans, Pat and Gina cooked a quick meal of grilled shrimp and pineapple kebabs with mango salsa, explained the ins and outs of some classic warm-weather recipes, and answered fans’ questions about all aspects of summertime cooking and entertaining. Find out what they had to say below, and get their top-five tips for enjoying a stress-free summer at the grill.

5. It’s a good idea to start the grill on medium heat and rub the grates with oil before adding anything to it. This will help prevent food from sticking.

4. When making kebabs on wooden skewers, be sure to soak the sticks in water for a while before you put them on the grill. Otherwise, the dry wood will catch fire and burn quickly.

Get the Neelys’ top three tips

Star-a-Day: Lovely Jackson

by , May 25th, 2013

Lovely JacksonYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Born Connie Jackson, Lovely, 27, adopted her nickname when she was a child, as the baby of her family. She’s a culinary school graduate with a bachelor’s degree in culinary management, and she lives in Los Angeles. As a private chef for high-profile clients, Lovely works to bring glam to the kitchen through diamond-studded knives and edible diamonds.

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