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.

Dom vs. Michelle: Who Was Right and Who Was Wrong? — Vote Now

by in Community, Food Network Star, July 7, 2015

Dom vs. Michelle: Who Was Right and Who Was Wrong? — Vote NowDom and Michelle may have been challenged to deliver a fitting fusion of flavor on Sunday night, but what they presented — both on the plate and in person — was anything but harmonious. "Just make the food and let's get this done," Dom told Michelle, deciding for their twosome that he'd make risotto and she'd prepare an add-in, which left Michelle feeling sidelined on her own team. "OK. So it's The Dom Show, and Michelle is the dumb sidekick," she grumbled, frustrated that she had little creative input into their dish. When it came time to present, their frustrations quickly got the better of them. Dom felt Michelle to be usurping their intro, and he proclaimed, "Like a true marriage, the husband can't get a word in edgewise," ultimately leaving the crowd feeling awkward and the Selection Committee stunned. "That was painful to watch," Giada said afterward.

Do you, the fans who watched the argument unfold, think that one person was correct and another was clearly in the wrong? Are you in agreement with Dom and his all-business attitude, or do you think Michelle was right to speak up during the presentation? Who are you siding with? Tell us by voting in the poll below. (If you need a refresher on what went down, click the play button on the video below.)

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

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 5, 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: Here, Fishy Fishy

by in Food Network Star, July 3, 2015

Food Network StarCome Sunday night, it's all about culinary pairs, both in terms of mashed-up ingredients on the plate and in terms of finalists working together as duos in the kitchen. After a classic ingredient swap in the Mentor Challenge, finalists head out of Food Star Kitchen and to downtown Los Angeles, where they'll meet up with the mentors, plus Anne Burrell, for a collaborative challenge at Patina Restaurant. While Anne's used to searching for the best of the worst on her show Worst Cooks in America, on this weekend's all-new episode of Food Network Star she'll work with Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to seek out potential glimmers of stardom among the best-of-the-best finalists.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above for the first look at what's to come on Sunday. Jay's getting up close and personal with a fish, which is staring him down as herbs fluff out the side of its gills. What do you think Jay's looking for on the fish, and how do you anticipate him using the seafood?

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Anne Burrell Previews Her Star Appearance with Been-There-Done-That Advice for Working on a Team

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 2, 2015
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Anne BurrellOn Worst Cooks in America, Anne Burrell sets off to find who among her cast of recruits is the best of the worst, but as a guest judge on Food Network Star this weekend, she'll work with mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis in the search for the best of the best, that one person worthy of Stardom. She's familiar with what it takes to work with — and compete against — a teammate, as her Red Team of recruits regularly faces off against Tyler Florence's Blue Team, something that will likely affect how she judges the Star finalists during Sunday's brand-new partner challenge.

Ahead of her special appearance, Star Talk caught up with Anne to find out what she's looking for from the finalists at this stage of the game, and to learn her advice to them for working as a pair. "Whenever I watch Food Network Star — and I watch it every year — I always have such anxiety for the people who are on this show, because I know how hard it is to do a cooking show, the stand-and-stir kind of show when you're just talking to a camera," she told us. "It's so wildly unnatural. I feel for these people because I went through it, and I think if I'd had to compete on this show to be able to get a show, I would have never had a show." Read on below to more from Anne in an exclusive interview.

When you meet the finalists, they'll be five weeks into their Star journey, nearly halfway through the competition. What are you expecting to see from them at this stage? What should they have mastered by now?
Anne Burrell: To understand how to be comfortable in your own skin and in such an unnatural situation and have a camera presence that doesn't annoy people or come across as fake. The camera can see everything, and if you are trying to sell me something that you don't really believe in, people can tell and they'll turn the channel. So when they really say, "What's your point of view and do you believe this?" you have to, otherwise you're not going to go anywhere. By week five, I still expect to see people who are figuring it out but who are on the right track to getting there. This is a crash course in an education, and you have to be a little bit crazy to be able to do it. I think a lot of people want to do it, and then actually when they see what goes into it, it's actually very, very difficult.

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#LookWhoIsBack: Matthew Sets His Sights on Star Salvation

by in Food Network Star, Videos, July 1, 2015

#LookWhoIsBack: Matthew Sets His Sights on Star Salvation

Perhaps one of Food Network Star's most-divisive finalists in the history of the competition, Matthew Grunwald shocked the Selection Committee and fans alike when he strutted into Food Star Kitchen on Day One with not only a difficult-to-grasp POV of social media and hashtags, but also with his tough critiques of his rivals' performances. After only two weeks in the contest, he ultimately met his fate when his sly smirk at evaluation caused his last-minute elimination.

But now, Matthew and the other ousted competitors — Christina, Sita and Rosa — have returned for a second chance at Stardom. They've set their sights on redemption with the help of Star Salvation, a six-week Web-exclusive series hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro, which challenges previously eliminated finalists with culinary and camera tests designed to show who among them is worthy of salvation and the opportunity to return to the Food Network Star competition.

Round 1 of Salvation kicked off on Sunday night following Rosa's departure, with the four hopefuls facing off against each other — and tacos. Click the play button on the video below to see how they fared, and find out who among them was ultimately sent home.

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

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 28, 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: Start Your Engines

by in Food Network Star, June 26, 2015

Food Network StarStars, stripes and fireworks — they're all set to be on display this weekend as the finalists leave Food Star Kitchen behind and head outside for a 4th of July cookout. Though of course all of the rivals are seeking individual Stardom, once again they'll be tasked with working closely together as they get grouped into teams on Sunday's brand-new episode. It's up to the teams to not only plate a unified menu but also present it to partygoers and a special guest who's no stranger to cookout fare: Bobby Deen.

Take a look above at the sneak-peek photo from Sunday's episode. What do you think Bobby's up to with those car keys? Is he letting the finalists take a break from challenges and simply test-drive a few vehicles, or will the rivals be forced to navigate their way to the cookout?

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Alex Shares Must-Have Skills and Reflects on Competition Flashbacks

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 25, 2015

Alex GuarnaschelliWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Alex about how her past competition experiences will influence her judgment on Salvation, then click here to hear from Jeff.

What's it going to be like working with Jeff? What's your professional relationship like?
Alex Guarnaschelli: We are like Starsky and Hutch. We are like Rizzoli and Isles. ... We have a really great relationship because we both use a lot of humor in what we do, and yet we take food super seriously. We know that there's so much at stake for these contestants that we want to be the perfect balance of lighthearted where the contestants are open to learning and hearing from us, and yet also critical enough that they can grow and kind of sculpt themselves, give themselves clarity, fill in the blanks, color in the lines, curate their own personality. That's what Food Network is all about: growing really good flowers. Start with a seed, some dirt, some water, and just keep on going with that sunshine.

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Jeff Dishes on Working with Alex and the Importance of Calming Nerves

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 24, 2015

Jeff MauroWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Jeff, then click here for an exclusive interview with Alex.

What's it going to be like working with Alex? What's your professional relationship like?
Jeff Mauro: We've done other events before, and I think we've shot some stuff together before. I know she's judged me on Chopped before. So we do have a rapport. We see each other out; we're friendly. But I get her totally — I know what she's all about. I get her gruffness, but her level of comedy is so underappreciated, I think. And I think she's so warm, and you want her to like you, which is an interesting gift. But she does it in such a way where I'm super comfortable around her. So I think my kind of goofy attitude and her kind of faux sternness, it's a nice little straight-talk-silly-man combo.

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New Photos: Go Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 11

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, June 23, 2015

Food Network StarAn action-packed episode complete with two trendsetting challenges and a duo of special guests judges, Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian, this past Sunday's episode saw no shortage of tense moments for the finalists — or slimy, stinky and incendiary flavors, as far as the dinner party dishes were concerned. But no matter the finalists' nerves or the Committee's task of sending home another rival, most on set managed to crack a few smiles between takes. In keeping with the episode's trend of taking photos, Sunny and Geoffrey posed for a quick shot behind the scenes — though it likely wasn't posted on social media.

Keep reading below for more insider snapshots.

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