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.

Caption It: Belly Flop

by in Food Network Star, July 10, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10In just a few short weeks, Lenny's proven himself one to make a splash on camera for the good of the competition. Given the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode of Food Network Star, it seems as though he's continuing to live up to that reputation as he's shown mid-fall during a belly flop at the Caesars Palace pool.

What do you think could have prompted Lenny's wave-making demonstration? Is this flop somehow related to Sunday's challenge, and will other finalists join in showing off their pool tricks, with fearless cannonballs, handstands and somersaults on display?

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Caption It: Mentor Glee

by in Food Network Star, July 4, 2014

Bobby Flay and Giada De LaurentiisGiven their pressure-packed challenges that involve live demonstrations and on-camera pitches, plus plate after plate of POV-focused food, it's no surprise that Food Network Star finalists may find it difficult to impress their mentors. Bobby, Giada and Alton are notorious for holding the hopefuls to exceedingly high standards, and the trio expects not only to enjoy top-quality dishes, but to be entertained while doing so as well. W

While the judges may be not be shy about demonstrating that a competitor has room for improvement, they're quick to applaud finalists' growth and will readily celebrate a job well done with hearty congratulations.

In the sneak-peek photo from this Sunday's brand-new show, it seems like Bobby and Giada are wowed by the scene unfolding before them as they look on with smiles. Do you think they're reacting to one rival's particularly noteworthy performance, and if so, who might be worthy of the mentors' glee? Has something funny caught their attention behind the scenes? What might be going on that's causing such strong laughs?

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Caption It: Look Over There

by in Food Network Star, June 27, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10For the first time on Sunday, Food Network Star finalists will trade the camera screen for the stage as they get set to perform in live culinary demonstrations. The hopefuls are now five weeks into the contest, and while some are finally finding their footing with an audience, many are still struggling to command a meaningful presence, as they're running out of time during presentations and stumbling over their words. Because there's no time to hesitate and no opportunities for second takes when it comes to live performances, their first attempts will have to be their best if they want to wow the mentors.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode. As Lenny works his way through his demonstration, he's seemingly caught up in something happening just over in the distance. What do you think could have grabbed his attention? Is this act somehow part of his performance, or has something gone wrong and he's forced to stop midexplanation?

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Caption It: Smiley Side-Eye

by in Food Network Star, June 20, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10Food Network Star is all about the finalists' abilities to put their best faces forward, both on camera and in the kitchen. But sometimes, perhaps on account of competition stress, contestant rivalries or simple daydreaming, hopefuls may let down their guards just long enough to show glimmers of their true personalities when off set and relaxed.

In the above sneak-peek photo from Sunday's all-new episode, Emma is seen giving serious side-eye with a nervous-looking smile, while nearby finalists watch what's going down in front of them. Has something offstage caught Emma's eye, or is she trying to enliven the group with a silly expression? What could her face be telling, and do you think other contestants will join her in amusement?

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Caption It: Sabotage Strikes Star

by in Food Network Star, June 13, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10Food Network Star is a difficult enough competition without unexpected obstacles in the middle of cooking. But on this Sunday's all-new episode, that's precisely what the finalists are in for when Alton unveils the first-ever Cutthroat Kitchen-themed challenge.

On Alton's evilicious series, the host auctions off notoriously ruthless tests that subject the rivals to hilariously devious ingredient swaps, inferior cooking utensils and just-for-fun time sucks; he has an arsenal of sabotages at the ready, and all it takes is a few high-stakes bids to turn an everyday culinary competition into a diabolical face-off wherein anything can happen.

Take a look at the above sneak-peek photo from Sunday's show. Alton looks on with his signature stare as Christopher appears surprised — for better or worse — about the state of his prep work in front of him. Has Christopher been doomed with an insurmountable sabotage, or is he pleasantly shocked at the finished version of his plate? What kind of challenges do you anticipate Alton unleashing on the contestants?

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Caption It: A Surprise(d) Guest

by in Food Network Star, June 6, 2014

Alex GuarnaschelliFrom their fellow rivals' histories to the details of a challenge, much of the Food Network Star competition is a surprise to finalists, although often all it takes is an initial introduction or the how-tos of a specific test to reveal the ins and outs. But what if competitors aren't given all of the information? Then they're in for additional challenges, which is likely just what the mentors had in mind.

On Sunday's all-new episode, the finalists will receive one such hefty surprise when they learn they're instructing their video demos to not just at-home viewers, but also to Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, who wows them with an unexpected visit. Given the sneak-peek photo above, however, it appears that the competitors aren't the only ones being surprised. Alex also appears shocked by the contest with a jaw-dropped gaze and frozen-in-place stance. What might have caused her reaction, and which contestants might be capable of eliciting it? What kinds of surprises would you like to see Food Network Star finalists tasked with overcoming?

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Chatting with the First Eliminated Star Finalist

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 1, 2014

Food Network StarDespite Food Network Star finalists' highest hopes for success and their best attempts to at once craft top-quality dishes and present a winning personality on camera, week after week another rival will be sent home, unable to survive in the face of stardom. It's up to judge-mentors Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to decide who should stay and whose journey has ended, and after every elimination, Star Talk will bring you the first interview with the ousted competitor.

If you haven't yet watched the episode, don't read any further. Star Talk is about to break down the ins and outs of the premiere and reveal the first finalist sent home.

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Caption It: Multiple Mentor Reflections

by in Food Network Star, May 30, 2014

Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton BrownWe're just days away from the Food Network Star premiere, and while fans have already met the 12 hopefuls in a series of exclusive interviews and their casting videos, this Sunday will mark the first time they go head-to-head in battle. For the next 11 weeks, the rivals will be at the mercy of their mentors, superstars Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiiswho must decide the latest tests for Star and Mentor Challenges, and determine which competitors aren't worthy of a shot at stardom and must be sent home.

In the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's brand-new episode, Bobby, Giada and Alton are taking in the Food Star Kitchen, surveying their surroundings and perhaps even dreaming up the next round of cook-offs for the finalists. As Giada smiles gleefully, Bobby looks on in wonderment and Alton strikes a classic questioning pose. What do you imagine they're saying to themselves, and what challenges could they be dreaming up for the premiere? Do you think their mentoring styles will match, or will one be notoriously more difficult to impress than the others?

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Help Your Favorite Finalists Top the Fan Poll

by in Food Network Star, May 29, 2014

Food Newtork Star, Season 10 FinalistsYou've read their first exclusive interviews, watched their earliest casting videos and heard all about their signature dishes, and on Sunday's premiere episode of Food Network Star (at 9|8c), you'll see the Season 10 finalists face off in the job interview of their lives. Now you can help your early favorites claim the top seat in the Food Network Star Fan Poll by voting for them daily.

Check out the Fan Poll here, get to know more about the 12 Star hopefuls and cast your vote up to 10 times per day for the rivals you think have what it takes to outlast the rest.

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Watch: The Making of the Cast

by in Food Network Star, May 26, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10 FinalistsYou've already met this year's 12 Food Network Star hopefuls, and just this month Star Talk shared the first exclusive interviews with each finalist to showcase their goals for the competition and their thoughts on the mentors. Now, just ahead of Sunday's all-new Season 10 premiere, it's time to reveal a look at the contestants before they were competitors, back when each of them was just beginning the road to stardom.

Each now-finalist created a casting video, and these brief clips reveal their cooking styles, histories in the kitchen and culinary passions — and just maybe you'll catch the first glimmers of a future star. Click here to watch all of their casting videos and learn about their pasts plus go-to cuisines.

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