All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an online editor at FoodNetwork.com, covering top-tier show and talent packages and managing the FN Dish and Star Talk blogs. She grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Michigan, where food was the focus of most conversations and it wasn't unusual to talk about the next day’s lunch and dinner menus while eating breakfast. Maria graduated from Barnard College in 2012 and currently lives in New York City. She likes her pasta cheesy, her eggs runny and her oysters briny.

Star-a-Day: Cory Bahr

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 21, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Cory Bahr.

Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, Cory, 40, inherited a passion for the great outdoors and cooking. At 16, Cory discovered his love for cooking while taking a job waiting tables, and he has been in the restaurant industry ever since. Named the “King of Louisiana Seafood” in 2011, Cory is a restauranteur, private chef and owner of a catering company, and he has been named Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Chef.” No one can resist Cory’s Southern charm, or his cooking!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Cory Bahr: My culinary point of view is seasonal, regional, as local as you can get. Just keeping it simple, stupid.

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Star-a-Day: Caodan Tran

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 20, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Caodan Tran.

Caodan, 29, didn’t learn to cook until it became a life necessity as an adult. Raised in an ultra-competitive family, Caodan realized that cooking was the best way to learn about a culture without traveling. Caodan currently owns a personal chef service, doing everything from pop-up dinners to private dinner parties. Known for her fresh, clean and simple approach to modern Vietnamese cuisine, Caodan considers herself hyper-ambitious and strong headed in a good way.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Caodan Tran: It's Vietnamese-inspired with kind of flavors and touches from California and Texas.

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Star-a-Day: Blake Baldwin

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 19, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Blake Baldwin.

An outdoor enthusiast, Blake, 30, was overweight after leaving college to start a career in Los Angeles. After realizing he needed to make a lifestyle change, Blake began taking his favorite recipes from childhood and transforming them into healthier versions. Blake eventually lost 50 pounds and gained the attention of his blogger colleagues. Now a senior manager at a digital marketing agency, Blake has previously attended the Institute of Culinary Education and assisted the executive sous chef of Per Se.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Blake Baldwin: My culinary POV is that healthy cooking can be delicious without being difficult.

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Star-a-Day: Amy Pottinger

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 18, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Amy Pottinger.

As a mom to two young children and two dogs, Amy, 32, is used to life being hectic. But besides keeping her house in order, Amy also loves to cook gourmet meals, along with running a culinary blog. Being self-trained, Amy has worked in restaurants since she was a teenager and has previously worked at a catering company. She specializes in elevating everyday foods.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Amy Pottinger: Exploring new culinary worlds and growth is within anybody’s grasp.

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Star-a-Day: Addie Gundry

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 17, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Addie Gundry.

Addie, 30, has always been book smart and driven. The valedictorian of her culinary school, Addie has built an impressive resume at such a young age, including stints working for iconic names such as Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Martha Stewart. She is currently the culinary director for a lifestyle publishing company, in addition to publishing her own food blog and cookbooks focusing on easy, elegant and entertaining dishes. Proud of the accomplishments she has made, Addie is ready for her next challenge — being a Food Network Star!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Addie Gundry: My culinary point of view is easy, elegant entertaining — all things food and beverage that are easy to make yet elegant to serve for any entertaining occasion.

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Lucky 13: The New Season of Food Network Star Is Set to Begin in June

by in Food Network Star, April 12, 2017

Food Network StarYou heard it here first: The search for the next Food Network Star is officially on. Beginning Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c, your favorite mentor-judge duo of Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will join forces once again in the hopes of discovering that special someone with the sought-after combo of expert culinary chops and captivating on-camera charm. Easy to do? Hardly. And that goes for both Bobby and Giada's job, as well as this multi-week job interview for which 12 hopeful finalists have signed up.

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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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