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.

16 Things You Didn’t Know About Tregaye Fraser, Food Network’s Newest Star

by in Food Network Star, August 2, 2016

Food Network StarYou know Tregaye Fraser as the newest member of the Food Network family, and you're surely familiar with her work as the self-described "queen of food fusion on fleek." But did you know that her favorite TV show is Power and that she likes to munch on hot wings late at night? We've got these fun facts and more about the new Food Network Star. Read on below to learn 10 pieces of top trivia, then click here to find out six more fun facts about Tregaye.

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Exclusive: Chatting with the Runners-Up of Food Network Star

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, August 1, 2016

After 10 weeks of challenges, Food Network Star mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis announced the newest member of the Food Network family in a life-changing finale on Sunday night. Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye all showed bright flickers of Star power this season, but ultimately it was Tregaye who earned the coveted title in an emotional reveal. We were on the set of the finale and caught up with Damiano and Jernard as they looked back on the competition and reflected on the journeys they took to land in this very spot.

Click the play button on the video above to hear from both guys in one-on-one interviews.

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Exclusive: One-on-One with the Winner of Food Network Star

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 31, 2016

There's no doubt that all three of the top Food Network Star finalists brought their everything to the months-long competition, but ultimately Tregaye Fraser, a chef and a mom of two, earned the coveted title of Food Network Star in an emotional (and appropriately on-fleek) reveal. We were on the set of the finale and caught up with Tregaye just moments after her victory. Read on below for an exclusive interview with her, then click the play button on the video above to go on set with her and the mentors.

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Caption It: The Brink of Stardom

by in Food Network Star, July 29, 2016

Food Network StarThis. Is. It.

Fresh off last week's momentous pilot shoot with Guy Fieri, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye are set to return to Food Star Kitchen for the last time on Sunday for what will be a life-changing finale — for one of them. These three Food Network Star hopefuls, each with 10 weeks of competition highs and lows behind them, have proved they're the worthiest of the coveted title and the ones with the brightest flickers of Star power. Now all that's left to do is watch their debut pilots before their mentors, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, welcome one of them to the Food Network family with the title of Food Network Star.

Take a sneak peek at Sunday's finale with the photo above. Along with their fellow cast mates, the final three have come together to look back on this groundbreaking — and downright entertaining — season and ultimately learn who among them is Food Network's newest Star.

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Get the Recipes for the Finalists’ Last Food Network Star Dishes

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 28, 2016

Smokehouse Pork Chops with Mac and Cheese"Each of you will have 60 minutes to cook the dish of your life," Giada De Laurentiis told the finalists on Sunday night. "And make sure, you guys, that the dish you make leaves no doubt that you should be the next Food Network Star."

That's some pressure, huh?

The four hopefuls who remained at that point in Sunday's new episode knew that their offerings had to be some of their best in the competition — and ultimately three of them delivered on the high demands. Damiano's elegant cake, Jernard's bold pork chop-mac and cheese combo and Tregaye's surf-and-turf brunch shined with not only impressive flavors, but also with the competitors' signature points of view, so much so that these three finalists clinched the coveted three pilot opportunities.

Now it's your turn to try your hand at these all-important plates. Get the recipes for Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's offerings below.

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WATCH: Rob Cramps Damiano’s Style

by in Food Network Star, Videos, July 27, 2016

Each and every one of the challenges on Food Network Star was important this season, from the finalists' first attempts at cold-open videos in the premiere episode to the holiday parties that took place in Week 9. But Sunday night's very last face-off was indeed the most-crucial one for Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and Yaku, the competitors still remaining at that point, as Giada told them, "Each of you will have 60 minutes to cook the dish of your life." The mentors would be tasting those dishes and watching their corresponding videos before doling out just three pilot opportunities, so all the finalists realized the higher-than-ever stakes at hand.

All four hopefuls welcomed help from sous chefs as they worked on their dishes, but for Damiano, baking alongside Rob quickly turned into more of a burden than a blessing. He was set on making St. Honoré cake, which he called "the best dessert you can make," and he looked to Rob for assistance in executing it. But thanks to Rob's unfamiliarity with baking, he only managed to cause Damiano stress. "I'm a guy that prides himself on re-creating leftovers and making comfort food. I've never used a scale," Rob declared after Damiano saddled him with taking metric measurements for a series of ingredients. What ensued was a tense — albeit downright hilarious — back-and-forth between Damiano and Rob as they attempted to work together to complete Damiano's dish on time.

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“I’m Getting to O.G. Status”: Guy Talks 10 Years of Food Network Stardom and Directing Finalists’ Pilots

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 26, 2016

Food Network StarWe're just days ahead of Sunday's Food Network Star finale and the announcement of this year's winner, and no one knows what the top-three hopefuls, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye, are feeling right now better than Guy Fieri. Ten years ago this bona fide superstar was filming his own pilot and waiting in eager anticipation for the results, just like the Season 12 finalists are today. Now he's returned to the Food Network Star competition, not as a finalist, of course, but as the director of Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's pilots. His past as a competitor and his decade of shining on Food Network on such fan-favorite series as Guy's Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives means that he has a unique perspective on the pilot process and what it takes to film a successful show.

We checked in with Guy to find out what it's like to be back on the show that launched his Stardom and get his take on his last 10 years on Food Network. Read on below for an exclusive one-on-one interview with him, then click the play button on the video above to hear more.

It was just 10 years ago that you were in these finalists' shoes, filming your pilot and going for the win. What’s it like to have the tables turned and to be right back where you started?
Guy Fieri: This round of Food Network Star — they just get better and better. Each year I think that people are watching the show, seeing how it works, upping their game. I mean, these three that I’ve had a chance to work with have upped their game so much. They would have beat me back in the day. The game gets tougher, the challenges are more difficult, and they’re really talented. I think you could have a show out of any one of them. I would tune in. ... My interest in it is how coachable they are, and they’re really enthusiastic, and they got good creds. Any one of them could do great.

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Caption It: High-Five to the Mentors

by in Food Network Star, July 22, 2016

Food Network StarSunday's new episode marks the penultimate week in the Food Network Star, Season 12 competition. After nearly two months of camera challenges, culinary face-offs, unexpected twists and a roster of special guests, only one challenge stands between the remaining rivals and the opportunity to film pilots for their would-be shows on Food Network. The current top three — Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye — and the to-be-announced winner of Star Salvation have all put in the work to land among the final-four hopefuls. And mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have worked just as hard to find those with the brightest glimmers of Star power. After all, when the judges met the competitors just 10 weeks ago, most weren't ready for the spotlight and indeed needed to be taught critical know-how.

Before you tune in on Sunday at 9|8c to find out which hopefuls will go on to shoot pilots, we're challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this high-five moment in the comments below.

Tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c.

Exclusive Interview with Past Star Winner Aarti, Who’s Back for the Finalists’ Last Presentations

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 21, 2016

Food Network StarIt was just a few years ago that Aarti Sequeira secured her future as a Food Network Star, besting her fellow finalists to earn the Season 6 crown. Now, with incomparable been-there-done-that wisdom and an acute realization of what the remaining Season 12 finalists are feeling at this point, she's set to return to Food Star Kitchen on Sunday to watch Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and the returning Star Salvation victor compete for three pilot opportunities.

We caught up with her on set to hear what it's like to be back on Food Network Star and walk down competition-memory lane. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Aarti to get her take on what's ahead for the finalists this week.

What's it like to be on the other side of the competition, as a judge and not a finalist?
Aarti Sequeira: It feels way better to be on this side of it. ... It's so hard to actually put yourself back in that position, only because it feels like so long ago, and it kind of was so long ago. I remember that it was bittersweet at this point. Maybe it's my nature or maybe it's the nature of the competition, but you get so close to these people, you know what I mean? And you know what it would mean for them to win, you know obviously what it would mean for you to win. But you want only the best for them ... and it's hard because you know that it's a mutually exclusive deal. If you win, they don't. If they win, you don't. There's no gray area there, and so it's tough. It's a tough psychological place to be.

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Watch the Finale of Star Salvation

by in Food Network Star, Videos, July 20, 2016

This is it. After five weeks of culinary and camera challenges, Star Salvation hosts Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson have just one battle left to judge before selecting the finalist who's most worthy of returning to the Food Network Star competition. Monterey, Yaku and this week's newcomer, Ana, are set to showcase classic dishes reminiscent of their hometowns after taking in an expert food demo by none other than one of their mentors, Alex. It's up to each of them to not only demonstrate their expertise and authority in the kitchen, but also convey a presence on camera that's both easygoing and commanding. Ultimately two of these hopefuls will fall in a final effort to continue on the road to Stardom, while one will rejoin the Season 12 cast in Sunday's penultimate episode of Food Network Star.

Click the play button on the video above to watch Monterey, Yaku and Ana face off for the last time, and tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to find out who's earned Salvation.

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