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.

Counting Down the 7 Most-Memorable Moments of Season 11 (So Far!)

by in Food Network Star, August 5, 2015

Food Network StarFrom one finalist's oddball first impression on Day One of the competition to another rival's unprecedented decision to quit, Season 11 of Food Network Star had no shortage of jaw-dropping moments — or unforgettable personalities. Ahead of Sunday's brand-new episode, in which the top-three hopefuls will film their pilots, look back at the most-memorable events.

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“I’m Pretty Sure I’ll Never Forget It” — Katie Lee’s Live-TV War Story, Plus How to Share the Spotlight and Multitask

by in Food Network Star, Judges, August 4, 2015

Katie Lee on Food Network StarThe name of the game was live TV on Sunday night's episode of Food Network Star, from a quick demo with Catherine McCord to an ensemble live television special — Summer Live — a la The Kitchen. Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro, both veterans of The Kitchen and no strangers to live productions, stopped by to judge the final four competitors as they tackled their Summer Live segments, offering them advice and been-there knowledge on how to deliver a succinct, engaging presentation. Star Talk caught up with Katie on set to find out more about how she approaches the shared segments on The Kitchen, plus her tips for multitasking in the kitchen, both at the stove with the camera and with her co-hosts. Read on below to hear from Katie, and learn what one live-TV snafu she'll "never forget."

What’s it like to share the spotlight?
Katie Lee: I don’t ever think of it as one person being in the spotlight. We really are a collaborative group, and I think that when one of us looks good, we all look good. So it’s about lifting each other up and having a good time. There are definitely moments where you have to take control, like if you’re doing the demo; then it becomes yours because it’s your recipe, but it’s still about interacting with each other, and with our audience and viewers.

Did it take the five of you long to find your groove when you first started filming The Kitchen?
KL: One of our biggest challenges when we first started was talking over each other, because it’s a natural way to speak. You know, if you’re at a dinner party, everybody’s talking over each other, and it’s just the way that people naturally talk. So, we really had to learn how to let the other person speak and naturally interject without talking over.

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From the Competition to Your Kitchen: How to Make a Smash

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, August 3, 2015

How to Make a SmashWe’re down to our final three! Well, for now, that is, until we find out who's coming back from Star Salvation and rejoining Eddie, Jay and Arnold next week. This week’s competition was all about television presence, and some did better than others on camera. Eddie and Jay were clear standouts during the ensemble cooking-show challenge, and Jay knocked the judges’ socks off when he wrapped up the show with a Strawberry, Bourbon-Basil Smash. We applaud him too! This historic cocktail has such versatility — since there’s no strict way to make one, the combinations are endless. A smash just needs a seasonal fruit, an herb (mint is traditional), sugar, booze and ice, plus a muddler with which to smash the fruit and herbs, drawing out all of their flavor. We like to add a squeeze of citrus for balance.

Follow our pictogram recipe above and experiment with your own smashes. We were in the mood for a Blackberry, Basil and Vodka version (with lemon juice), which is pictured below. Have fun and share your favorite combinations in the comments section.

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One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, August 2, 2015

Food Network StarIt's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

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Caption It: The Bro Show

by in Food Network Star, July 31, 2015

Food Network StarOutdoor cooking, ingredient swaps, audience demos and even improv cooking. The finalists have faced nearly all aspects of Food Network Stardom in the past nine weeks, but on Sunday they're going to contend with perhaps the most-demanding one of all: live television. For the first time, this weekend the guys will come together to work on a live ensemble show, which means that not only will they be unable to enjoy the luxury of cuts and second tapes, but they'll also be sharing the spotlight with their fellow finalists.

Check out a sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's show. Jay, Eddie and Arnold come together over a particular dish, each surveying it intently before digging in. How do you think they're feeling as they endure a live production, and what could be going through their minds?

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The Makings of Live TV: Jeff’s Lessons Learned and His “Number One Rule”

by in Food Network Star, Judges, July 30, 2015

Food Network StarAs all of the previously eliminated Food Network Star finalists would likely attest, camera challenges are difficult — so much so that multiple takes may be needed in order to execute just one presentation. But on Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star, the remaining rivals will learn that their past challenges were mere practice for the main event in television: live productions, where there's no such thing as a redo. Unpredictable in time and format, live TV requires personalities to think on their feet, especially when there are multiple hosts of a show on at the same time.

On Sunday the final four hopefuls will come together for their first ensemble-based live challenge, something the five castmates of The Kitchen know well. Two of those co-hosts, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee, will be on hand Sunday as the cast attempts their first live demos, and we caught up with Jeff recently to find out what he's learned about live TV after six seasons of The Kitchen. "The No. 1 rule," he told us, is "the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment." He says that finalists ought to do well if they have one key component: confidence. "Make sure whatever you’re cooking is practiced," he recommends, "because then it just becomes, you know, muscle memory." Read on below to hear more from Jeff as he shares "been there, done that" advice with the hopefuls.

What's it like balancing the efforts of an ensemble while claiming a bit of spotlight for yourself?
Jeff Mauro: It like it. I like being able to feed off other people and give and take, [like] the world of … improv and sketch comedy. That's, like, the No. 1 rule: the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment. So that’s what I love about it. But then again, it’s also nice just to be in the spotlight too.

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Star Salvation, Episode 5: Which Mystery Ingredient Would You Want to Cook With?

by in Food Network Star, Videos, July 29, 2015

In true Star Salvation fashion, the name of the game this week was expect the unexpected, as Jeff Mauro told the finalists to get set for "a culinary curve ball." He and fellow judge Alex Guarnaschelli doled out three mystery bags, each stuffed with a mandatory product that the hopefuls had to demonstrate their mastery over by featuring it in their dishes.

For Dom it was all about his Italian point of view; he worked rosemary lavender into a creamy carbonara sauce. Emilia used her childhood nickname of "squash blossom" to talk about her ingredient — squash blossoms. And Rue, brand new to sorghum, approached her product with gusto and tried it in a chili.

If you had to cook with one of these three mystery ingredients (rosemary lavender, squash blossoms or sorghum), which would you choose? Cast your vote in the poll below, then click the play button on the video above to see how the hopefuls fared in this challenge.

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Inside Food Star Kitchen: Exclusive Photos and Culinary Trivia

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 28, 2015

Food Network StarWhen the finalists started their Star journeys, the expansive hallowed halls of Food Star Kitchen were surely overwhelming and downright intimidating. But by the time the remaining rivals entered the arena Sunday night, eight weeks into the competition, they were surely (hopefully) well-accustomed to the surroundings, familiar with the kitchen's offerings and prepared to execute two challenges within its walls.

Star Talk was on set during the filming of Food Network Star, Season 11, and we checked in with the show's crew to find out more about how this over-the-top culinary workhorse was created. This massive set — a whopping 95 feet by 100 feet — took the team a day and a half to build, and it's outfitted with two kitchen spaces, multiple ovens, cooktops and refrigerators, plus an expansive pantry. Inside this alcove is where the finalists shop for their dry goods as well as secure the tools they may need for a particular cooking challenge. From grains and flour to oils, pots, pans and spatulas, it's all arranged neatly on dozens of shelves.

Read on below to see more exclusive snapshots inside Food Star Kitchen, and hear from the show's culinary producer, Dave, about what it takes to make the cooking challenges possible.

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One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 26, 2015

Food Network StarIt's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

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Caption It: Bobby vs. Burger

by in Food Network Star, July 24, 2015

Food Network StarTo some, burgers may be just that family-friendly, crowd-pleasing cookout classic, but to Bobby Flay, burgers are a beast unto their own. As the owner of more than a dozen successful Bobby's Burger Palace restaurants and a past Burger Bash champ, he knows just what to look for in a successful burger — and what to avoid.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star. Before he and Giada De Laurentiis take a bite of the burger before them, Bobby studies a half of it, taking into account the apparent ingredient layers, color and texture inside. Given his serious-looking stare and all-business demeanor here, what do you imagine he's thinking about this burger? Do you predict that he and Giada will be impressed by it?

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