All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an online editor at FoodNetwork.com, covering top-tier show and talent packages and managing the FN Dish and Star Talk blogs. She grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Michigan, where food was the focus of most conversations and it wasn't unusual to talk about the next day’s lunch and dinner menus while eating breakfast. Maria graduated from Barnard College in 2012 and currently lives in New York City. She likes her pasta cheesy, her eggs runny and her oysters briny.

The Journey to the Gauntlet: Chatting with Challenger Michael Gulotta from Iron Chef Gauntlet

by in Shows, March 18th, 2017

Iron Chef GauntletThis. Is. It. The fight to become an Iron Chef is unlike any other culinary competition, with the demands for precision, expertise, intuition and downright excellence the most rigorous in the business. On Iron Chef Gauntlet, seven of the country’s most-elite chefs will come together to prove that their skills are the sharpest — but ultimately just one will earn the right to the run the gauntlet for the chance to join the ranks of the great Iron Chefs.

Before the competition begins on Sunday, April 16 at 9|8c, we’re giving you, Iron Chef fans, the first introductions to the crop of challengers ready to do battle. Today we’d like you to meet Michael Gulotta, a chef from New Orleans. Read on below to get to know his style in the kitchen, and be sure to come back to FN Dish all week long as we present a new contender every day this week.

What’s your style of cuisine, and do you have a signature dish?
Michael Gulotta: Well, right now my style of cuisine is Southeast Asia meets Southeast Louisiana. It’s my shtick. That’s what I enjoy cooking.

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The Journey to the Gauntlet: Chatting with Challenger Jonathon Sawyer from Iron Chef Gauntlet

by in Shows, March 17th, 2017

Iron Chef GauntletThis. Is. It. The fight to become an Iron Chef is unlike any other culinary competition, with the demands for precision, expertise, intuition and downright excellence the most rigorous in the business. On Iron Chef Gauntlet, seven of the country’s most-elite chefs will come together to prove that their skills are the sharpest — but ultimately just one will earn the right to the run the gauntlet for the chance to join the ranks of the great Iron Chefs.

Before the competition begins on Sunday, April 16 at 9|8c, we’re giving you, Iron Chef fans, the first introductions to the crop of challengers ready to do battle. Today we’d like you to meet Jonathon Sawyer, a chef from Cleveland. Read on below to get to know his style in the kitchen, and be sure to come back to FN Dish all week long as we present a new contender every day this week.

What’s your style of cuisine, and do you have a signature dish?
Jonathon Sawyer: We have a range of restaurants in Cleveland, so it’s really more of a narrative that we follow, which is looking at traditional food, experiencing it, and interpreting it through our farmers and modern technique. It’s reverential to the past but also looking to the future. I think The Greenhouse’s signature dishes are whole roasted pig’s head, Foie Gras Steamed Clams and our Crispy Chicken Wings Confit. Noodlecat is a ramen shop. Everything’s under $11, so our signature dishes really are probably pork miso ramen, college ramen, spicy octopus, udon and our crispy lake fish steam bun. Trentina’s fine-dining, Italian. Signature dishes [there] are beef jerky bucatini, the egg de Trentina, the huevo de Trentina, which is cooked in a spoon over charcoal, and our pane pizza with an edible candle, which is a candle in bread.

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The Journey to the Gauntlet: Chatting with Challenger Jason Dady from Iron Chef Gauntlet

by in Shows, March 16th, 2017

Iron Chef GauntletThis. Is. It. The fight to become an Iron Chef is unlike any other culinary competition, with the demands for precision, expertise, intuition and downright excellence the most rigorous in the business. On Iron Chef Gauntlet, seven of the country’s most-elite chefs will come together to prove that their skills are the sharpest — but ultimately just one will earn the right to the run the gauntlet for the chance to join the ranks of the great Iron Chefs.

Before the competition begins on Sunday, April 16 at 9|8c, we’re giving you, Iron Chef fans, the first introductions to the crop of challengers ready to do battle. Today we’d like you to meet Jason Dady, a chef from San Antonio. Read on below to get to know his style in the kitchen, and be sure to come back to FN Dish all week long as we present a new contender every day this week.

What’s your style of cuisine, and do you have a signature dish?
Jason Dady: I think that my overall style of cuisine would be considered Modern American cuisine, so it’s pretty well versed in a lot of different techniques, whether it’s French or Northern Italian, but really focused on farm-to-table, fresh, local ingredients. My signature dish would probably be a dish called Nutella Times Three, which is like a flourless Nutella torte, chocolate Nutella mousse, Nutella ganache. It’s pretty delicious.

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Monti Carlo to Boost Restaurants’ Online Reputations on New Series Help My Yelp

by in Shows, March 9th, 2017

Monti CarloIf you’ve ever found yourself scouring the web for the latest reviews of a new restaurant in town — and deciding to either book or cancel a reservation because of what you found — then you know firsthand the importance of positive reputations online. On sites like Yelp, restaurant guests can post their thoughts about service, ambiance and, of course, food, leaving potential customers able to make future dining decisions based on what they’ve read. So it’s no wonder that it’s in an eatery’s best interest to do what they can to boost their favorability online. And for some struggling businesses, Monti Carlo is just what’s needed to bring them back into good standing.

On the all-new series Help My Yelp, premiering Monday, April 10 at 10|9c, Monti will work with chefs and business owners to overhaul their poor practices, given the feedback they receive from members of Yelp’s Elite Squad that have secretly visited their restaurants. The recommendations, critiques and ideas from those anonymous visitors, plus the behind-the-scenes antics that Monti sees on hidden cameras, will ultimately influence what Monti does to help set up the businesses for success. As a chef and restaurant consultant, she knows the inner workings of the industry, so she’ll be able to troubleshoot problems, ease tensions and offer concrete solutions on the spot — which will be crucial to do before a fresh batch of Yelp Elite Squad members stops by, ready to evaluate the business.

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4 Ways to Hack Weeknight Cooking

by in Recipes, Shows, March 4th, 2017

Honey Chipotle Chicken Wet BurritoAt the end of a long day, it can feel daunting to walk into the kitchen and stare down a complex, multi-step recipe when all you want is some dinner. But, of course, despite the time crunch, you’re still craving a satisfying meal — and perhaps a sweet treat too. The good news: You can, in fact, enjoy all the food you want while retaining your weeknight sanity. The secret is to take a few welcome shortcuts, both in terms of store-bought ingredients and tools that make the process of prep work speedy and simple. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the cast showcased an entire menu of weeknight-friendly recipes, and with those how-tos came helpful kitchen hacks. Read on below for all the details.

1. Save time with store-bought ingredients.

Sunny Anderson’s Honey Chipotle Chicken Wet Burrito (pictured above) can be on the table in a hurry, thanks in large part to a ready-to-go rotisserie chicken. By starting with already cooked meat — chicken that’s juicy and tender straight off the bone — she cuts her prep time significantly, though she doesn’t sacrifice taste or texture. Similarly, a can of honey-chipotle beans goes a long way in boosting the flavor of the hearty filling, while a flavor base of adobo sauce, barbecue seasoning and fresh scallions adds homemade comfort.

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The Quest for the Most-Coveted Culinary Title Returns with All-New Series Iron Chef Gauntlet

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, March 2nd, 2017

Iron Chef Gauntlet“Allez! Cuisine!”

Literally translated to “Go! Kitchen!” this simple yet powerful phrase began each and every battle in Iron Chef America’s Kitchen Stadium, signaling the start of a no-holds-barred quest to determine “whose cuisine will reign supreme.” Now, for the first time since 2013, chefs will be returning to the world of Iron Chef — but this time they’ll be going for the gauntlet.

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The 10 Best Things We Ate at the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, February 27th, 2017

South Beach Wine & Food FestivalAfter a four-day marathon of eating and drinking alongside your favorite chefs and stars at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, it’s safe to say that we. are. full. But as we look back on this sunny weekend along the Miami shore, we can’t help but crave a few particularly memorable dishes that we were enjoying mere hours ago. From an over-the-top-cheesy burgers at Burger Bash to a sweet treat of Trisha Yearwood’s coffee cake at her Southern Kitchen Brunch, these are 10 of our favorite tastes of SOBEWFF.

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These Individual-Serving Pot Pies Will Transform Your Menu of Comfort Foods

by in Recipes, Shows, February 25th, 2017

These Individual-Serving Pot Pies Will Transform Your Menu of Comfort FoodsWhen it’s blustery and cold outside, few things will do the job of warming you up quite like a hearty casserole. But thanks to hectic schedules (and the ability to go from hungry to hangry in just a few minutes), there’s not always time to settle into the kitchen to prepare one. Enter: A timesaving solution. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts introduced a duo of chicken pot pies, but neither was presented in the traditional big-batch format. Instead, these brand-new recipes put an individual-serving spin on the pot pie, proving that this tried-and-true favorite can be transformed in a speedy way. Read on below for two weeknight-friendly takes on pot pie, each a can-do meal fit for the whole family.

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Burger Bash 2017 Winners: Little Jack’s Tavern and Jr’s Gourmet Burgers

by in Events, News, February 24th, 2017

South Beach Wine & Food FestivalThe soft sand, the cool ocean breeze, the sound of partygoers mingling along the shore — this was the scene at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Friday night. This plus a whole lot of burgers, of course. Friday marked the 11th annual Burger Bash at SOBEWFF, and like in years past, Rachael Ray hosted the fan-favorite extravaganza, which brought together nearly three dozen chefs from across the country. As hungry burger enthusiasts lined up to sample chefs’ between-the-bun offerings, all-star judges, including Ayesha Curry, Rev Run, Adam Richman and Emilio Estefan, took their places on a perch inside the tents to get down to the business of tasting as well. Up for grabs this year was the sought-after Schweid & Son’s The Very Best Burger Award, which would be decided by the judges, and the equally coveted Heineken Light People’s Choice Award, which celebrates the chef or restaurant that earned the most votes from guests. After reveling in the meaty burgers (and plentiful sides) on display, we watched as two restaurants earned the highest honors. Read on below to find out who took home the trophies, and take an insider’s look at some of our favorite bites from the night.

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7 Reasons Why Italian Food Is Best Enjoyed on the Beach, As Learned at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, News, February 24th, 2017

South Beach Wine & Food FestivalThe team here at Food Network is enjoying a mini spring break of sorts. Along with some of your favorite chefs and many of the most-revered names in the restaurant industry, we headed south to Miami and are spending the weekend at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which brings together stars like Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Trisha Yearwood, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis for four days of celebrating all things food and drink — and plenty of eating and drinking, of course.

Thursday marked the first night of this 16th annual culinary extravaganza, and in true Florida form, sun-kissed guests donned their sandals and packed into the seaside tents to join pals Alex Guarnaschelli and Valerie Bertinelli as they hosted an opening-night soiree. At Italian Bites on the Beach, as guests danced in the sand to the sounds of a live band, chefs and restaurateurs doled out some of Italy’s most-craved comfort foods, from pizza, pasta and saucy meatballs to lemony cupcakes and rich cannoli. And here’s the thing: ordinarily we wouldn’t consider these plates beach fare. After all, they’re often warm and covered with sauce, not often an ideal combo when you’re already sitting in hot, messy sand. But as we made our way from booth to booth, tasting each of the items up for grabs, we couldn’t help but realize just how right it is to eat Italian food on the beach.

Here’s why:

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