All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an 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: 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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Damaris Phillips

by , May 22nd, 2013

Damaris PhillipsYou 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.

After graduating from culinary school, Damaris Phillips, 32, worked front- and back-of-house restaurant jobs before returning to the same college to teach the next generation of chefs. Now living in Louisville, Ky., this self-described Southern spitfire grew up cooking dinners for her large family, and she is known for her unmistakable trademark wit.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Chris Hodgson

by , May 21st, 2013

Chris HodgsonYou 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 Season 3 runner-up on The Great Food Truck Race, Chris Hodgson, 27, lives in Cleveland and is largely responsible for the city’s fascination with food trucks. He’s a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu who opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Hodge’s, after founding two food trucks, Dim and Den Sum, and Hodge Podge.

Read more

Pasta With Olive-Caper Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 20th, 2013

Bucatini With Olive-Caper SauceFor a quick weeknight dinner, few meals are more efficient or economical than pasta with tomato sauce. But regardless of whether you commit to making your own sauce from scratch or you rely on store-bought jars when in a pinch, everyday marinara can get tired quickly. This week, instead of calling the dish complete with just noodles and tomatoes, dress up the sauce with vegetables, olives, fresh herbs or cheeses — any or all that you happen to have on hand — to turn an ordinary meal into something special. Even if you’re pressed for time, know that it doesn’t take long to simmer the sauce with a few additional ingredients, as, in fact, most mixtures come together in the time it takes to boil and cook the pasta.

Food Network Magazine‘s can-do Bucatini With Olive-Caper Sauce (pictured above) is the ultimate in easy-yet-elegant pasta in that it boasts a bold, flavorful no-cook sauce. After making a salty paste of smashed garlic, capers and red pepper flakes, add Mediterranean ingredients like kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese and fragrant basil, then let the heat of just-cooked pasta gently warm the mixture and soften the tomatoes slightly. Ready to eat in only 25 minutes, this go-to supper elevates the mainstays of marinara — tomatoes and garlic — into a wholly new dish, one that’s simple enough for weeknight cooking but interesting enough to offer guests. When making no-cook pasta, it’s best to reserve a few cups of cooking water before draining the noodles, just in case you need to loosen the sauce with liquid.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Chad Rosenthal

by , May 20th, 2013

Chad RosenthalYou 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 father of two, Chad Rosenthal, 37, lives in Ambler, Pa., and is passionate about all things barbecue and has won several barbecue competitions in the past. Now opening a comfort food eatery near Philadelphia, this self-taught cook grew up hosting a pretend cooking show for his family. He’s now eager to turn that childhood hobby into a career.

Read more