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: Rosa Graziano

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 15, 2015

Rosa GrazianoThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing California's Rosa Graziano.

Rosa, 38 (Los Angeles), is a first-generation Italian-American who grew up in her family’s deli and catering business in New Jersey and learned to cook at her Neapolitan mother’s side. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and noticed a void in Southern Italian cuisine, so she decided to bring a taste of her mother’s dishes to the West Coast with her own food truck, which she operated for several years. From arancini to zeppoles, Rosa is ready to share her love of Southern Italian food and culture with kitchens across the country.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Rosa Graziano: Southern Italian foods, Southern Neapolitan foods. First-generation Italian girl. I was raised by the side of my mother. It's not a choice when you're an Italian girl. You just — you just have to do it. So that's how I learned about cooking and food.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
RG: I want to grill with Bobby. Giada is so delicate; there's something really delicate about her. I'm fascinated because she's such a delicate Italian. To me, when I think of my family — we're Southern Italian — it's a little bit heartier. She's intimidating to me because she's so great at what she does. I would make a pizzelle with Giada. To me, that's a metaphor of who she looks like and what feels like to me.

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Star-a-Day: Michelle Karam

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 14, 2015

Michelle KaramThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing California's Michelle Karam.

Michelle, 39 (Santa Barbara, Calif.), is a master multitasker who does it all: She is a mom of three kids under 10 years old, as well as being a website owner, radio host and private chef. Inspired by her Mediterranean roots and her husband’s Latin heritage, she loves fusing the two cultures together for unexpected flavor combinations. As a busy mom, Michelle knows that the pantry often dictates what’s for dinner — so she wants to dive in and teach families how to use what they have to make a delicious, fresh meal.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Michelle Karam: Full of love, family friendly, fresh and tasty

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
MK: I think I would ask Bobby how he is able to be so successful with his recipes — he does it with such ease — and learn how to present recipes that way. And I would love to ask Giada how she manages to just smile and look perfect and friendly and approachable. Those two pack a punch.

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Star-a-Day: Matthew Grunwald

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 13, 2015

Matthew GrunwaldThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Arizona's Matthew Grunwald.

Matthew, 22 (Scottsdale, Ariz.), is the youngest finalist, but don’t let his age and exuberance fool you; he’s got the experience of a chef twice his age. He began working in professional kitchens at 16 and became a food writer by 17. Matthew eats, sleeps and breathes food, and is dedicated to bringing today’s online food trends and social-media experience to the masses.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Matthew Grunwald: Millennial, social media-driven, youthful cuisine

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
MG: To sit down with Chef Flay and just have him teach me everything he knows about Southwestern cuisine, and also I would love to talk to him about running restaurants from a business perspective and how he manages all that.

From Miss Giada, I would say a lesson in the biz. A lesson on TV chops. I would love to sit down with her and kind of pick her brain.

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QUIZ: Which Food Network Chef Is Your Spirit Animal?

by in Food Network Star, May 12, 2015

QUIZ: Which Food Network Chefs Is Your Spirit Animal?You watch their shows and cook their recipes. You may even fancy yourself a would-be friend of some of your favorite chefs. But have you ever wondered which among them is your kindred spirit in the kitchen and out? From Bobby Flay's signature use of bold Southwestern flavors to Alex Guarnaschelli's penchant for sweet treats and Jeff Mauro's ability to crack jokes on command, each Food Network star brings something different to the table, and now it's your turn to find out which of them you're most compatible with. Click the "Start" button below to begin this quiz.

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Star-a-Day: Jay Ducote

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 12, 2015

Jay DucoteThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Louisiana's Jay Ducote.

Jay, 33 (Baton Rouge, La.), calls himself a food ambassador for South Louisiana, and he’s ready to take the gig nationwide. Jay’s passion for cooking started at LSU tailgates, and now this charismatic chef has his own culinary media company. His deep connection to and appreciation for the Louisiana food scene has led to cooking-competition victories and media awards, and he is primed to bring that award-winning personality and charm to the screen.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Jay Ducote: I am a blogger, radio host, professional tailgater and Cajun boy that just wants to bring good flavor and outdoor cooking to Food Network.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
JD: Bobby, I would want to learn some of his master grilling techniques. I mean, I'm pretty good on the grill — and outdoor cooking and barbecue is really one of the things I'm best at — but I also know that there's so much to learn, and Bobby is a master. So I would love to spend a day just grilling with Bobby Flay and learning from him.

Giada, I would really want to learn what she does best, which is Italian, and the authentic food to her. I've never been to Italy. I've been to parts of Europe — Ireland and Portugal is where I've been most of the time — but I've never experienced true Italian outside of Italian-Americans cooking in America. And so that's what I would want to learn from her is just some of the Italian techniques and sauces and pasta.

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Star-a-Day: Emilia Cirker

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 11, 2015

Emilia CirkerThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Virginia's Emilia Cirker.

Emilia, 36 (Reston, Va.), is a beauty pageant veteran with a French culinary degree and a wicked sense of humor. Her parents passed their love of food to her, and she is currently a culinary instructor and software company executive. Emilia is also a former head pastry chef for the Washington Redskins. This natural-born leader and single mom is determined to inspire viewers with her global-ingredient, technique-driven cooking style.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Emilia Cirker: My friends and family tell me that my food is the place where tradition and change meet; I like to honor culturally rich, ethnically rich heritages dishes, but put a new spin on them. So you're getting something that's craveable but also new and traditionally rich at the same time.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
EC: Well, Bobby's is easy for me, because I really don't like smoked chipotles. So I want him to prove me wrong by cooking me a dish and teaching me how to cook something that I will actually like, 'cause I hate the fact that I don't like one ingredient. With Giada, that's a tough one, 'cause I'm Italian, so I have a lot of the same techniques that she uses. But one of the things that I love about her is how warm and inviting she is on camera, and I need that as a skill set. So I'd love for her to show me how she got that talent.

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Star-a-Day: Eddie Jackson

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 10, 2015

Eddie JacksonThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Texas' Eddie Jackson.

Eddie, 33 (Houston), is a former NFL player who is a fierce competitor both in the kitchen and on the field. Now a food truck owner, private chef and personal trainer, he is dedicated to making healthy food taste absolutely delicious. In Eddie’s world, there is no need for a “cheat” day, because his good-for-you food is packed with flavor and does not leave you feeling deprived.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Eddie Jackson: My culinary POV is all about cheat day.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
EJ: I would probably ask them how to mask or tame everything that I'm thinking in my head and present it on camera.

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Star-a-Day: Dominick Tesoriero

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 9, 2015

Dominick TesorieroThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing New York's Dominick  Tesoriero.

Dominick, 30 (Staten Island, N.Y.), is a charming, funny New Yorker who has been hamming it up for his friends and family all his life. His culinary training took him to Italy, where he refined his skills and placed second in an international cooking competition. Dom believes in quality ingredients, solid technique and simple cooking. He now owns New York’s first and only mac-and-cheese food truck.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Dominick Tesoriero: Classic Italian techniques from a New York state of mind

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
DT: Giada, she makes Italian food look good. I wish I could do the same, just like she did. Bobby, how to be such a badass.

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Star-a-Day: Christina Fitzgerald

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 8, 2015

Christina FitzgeraldThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Missouri's Christina Fitzgerald.

Christina, 29 (St. Louis), grew up in a big family with six brothers, so she developed a competitive spirit and an ability to stand out at an early age. Encouraged by her late brother to follow her passion and enroll in culinary school, Christina went on to graduate at the top of her class and win several cooking competitions with her internationally inspired cuisine. Now married, with a 6-year-old daughter, she still loves to travel and bring new flavors home to her kitchen.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Christina Fitzgerald: I don't want to be boxed into a point of view. I love authentic flavors. I love fusion sometimes. But I really just kind of go with whatever type of mood I'm in. I like all different types of foods, so I don't want to be boxed into just making one specific thing, because I love all food.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
CF: I'm really excited to hear what they have to say about my food. And then, obviously, they're the best of the best, so I want to see what they would have done differently and how that's going to affect me as a cook.

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Star-a-Day: Arnold Myint

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 7, 2015

Arnold MyintThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, then there's Food Network Star: an intense 11-week journey that requires nothing short of flawless technique in the kitchen and a downright sparkly personality on camera. Beginning June 7 at 9|8c, 12 all-new rivals will put their dreams on the line as they endure mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis' lofty challenges, all in the hopes of scoring the most-sought-after culinary career: Food Network host. Star Talk is bringing you the first look at each of the finalists in exclusive, candid interviews, and today we're introducing Tennessee's Arnold Myint.

Arnold, 38 (Nashville), grew up in his parents’ restaurant, one of the first Asian restaurants and food markets in Nashville, where he used to roller-skate through the aisles. After a career in professional figure skating, he attended culinary school and returned to restaurant life with three restaurants of his own. An accomplished mixologist, restaurant consultant and event caterer, Arnold makes food that is bold, unexpected and fun — just like him. Arnold also has a drag alter ego, Suzy Wong, who is known to host charity events and mix a fierce cocktail.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Arnold Myint: My culinary point of view is easy entertaining at home that won't break your bank.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
AM: I'd have to ask them how they relax for the camera. I think that's one thing I really want to nail, and so I'd probably ask them both to get feedback in both ways, because they approach their shows differently, and I just want to see what goes through their minds to get them ready for that.

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