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: Alex McCoy

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 6, 2015

Star-a-Day:

Alex McCoyThere 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 Washington, D.C.'s Alex McCoy.

Alex, 31 (Washington, D.C.), brings a killer combo of culinary chops, passion for travel, business skill and charm to the competition. He started working in restaurants as a teenager, became an executive chef in his 20s, and opened his own restaurant before turning 30. His restaurant is a Washington, D.C., hot spot, where the menu is filled with dishes inspired by Alex’s world travels, including his many trips to Asia.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.
Alex McCoy: In one word it would be adventurous. My POV is a worldwide view on sandwiches. It's really about how people eat sandwiches around the world — and every culture has its own version of a sandwich — and introducing people to some of the dishes that they usually don’t see on a daily basis.

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?
AM: For Giada, it would be the grace. She has such a great identity on a television show. She's very upbeat and she's very graceful. For me, I'm like a restaurant chef; I'm really gritty. And I think it's important when you have a TV show to be graceful — even a guy can be graceful — and navigate a television show as well as you can.

I love Bobby's sense of humor. He's very quick-witted. And it just works for him so well. I like how he manages his personality on television, and I think that's a real talent: being able to be concise but also be funny and be so many different people at one time.

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Food Network Star, Season 11: The Search for Star Power Is On This Summer

by in Food Network Star, April 29, 2015

Bobby Flay and Giada De LaurentiisThere are traditional job interviews, which are surely daunting, and then there's Food Network Star: an 11-week journey that demands from its hopefuls not just a solid resume and a memorable first impression, but simply flawless culinary technique, a sparkly TV presence and the ability to hook an audience using little more than a camera lens. There's nothing quite like this at once grueling and transformative experience, which has been known to turn out best-of-the-business pros, including Guy Fieri, Jeff Mauro and Damaris Phillips. And beginning this June, two culinary legends, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, will once again scour the county in hope of discovering star power.

That's right, fans. Food Network Star, Season 11 is set to kick off in Los Angeles this summer (Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c). And in true Hollywood style, the lights of potential stardom will be shining bright as 12 eager finalists arrive for their chance at the most-sought-after career in the culinary industry: Food Network host. Led by judge-mentors Bobby and Giada, these rivals must put their dreams on the line as they take a chance on their futures during an intensive three-month process. Like last year's competitors, finalists will face weekly Mentor and Star Challenges. But with Bobby and Giada at the helm alongside a host of rotating special-guest judges, including Duff Goldman, Sunny AndersonRichard Blais and David Alan Grier, you can be sure that unprecedented tests and downright shocking twists will force these contestants to learn quickly that the role of Star isn't as simple as the hosts make it look.

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The 14 Best One-Liners from Food Network Star, Season 10

by in Food Network Star, August 8, 2014

Bobby Flay and Giada De LaurentiisThere was no shortage of communication from both sides of the Food Network Star judges' table this season, but there were indeed moments when what was being said simply stopped the cast — and fans watching at home — in their tracks. From premiere impressions about each other's styles to oddball antics unfolding in the dining room, the last 10 weeks provided plenty of opportunities for hilarious quips, straightforward comebacks, and unfiltered reactions from the mentors and hopefuls alike. Read on below to relive the best one-liners from the cast, then tune in to the Food Network Star finale this Sunday at 9|8c.

Donna: "I don't usually do that type of thing."

Bobby about Lenny: "Whoa, he's got sequins on, yo."

Giada: "She's very much a pageant girl."

Lenny: "I'm glad this isn't The Next Top Model."

Bobby to Lenny: "You're wild enough to shoot at."

Alton: "It's a date with my mom."

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

by in Interviews, August 3, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10After 10 weeks of competition, the final three have been chosen, and determining the next Food Network Star is in your hands. (Vote for who you want to win.) If you haven't watched the episode yet, read no further because Star Talk is about to dish on what went down and reveal who was sent home.

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Caption It: Final Feedback

by in Food Network Star, August 1, 2014

Bobby FlayThis Sunday marks the 10th week of competition on Food Network Star, and after nearly three months of tests involving timed cooking, camera engagement, live presentations and brand building, the final four rivals have one last opportunity to learn from their mentors. Alton, Bobby and Giada will be on hand as Lenny, Luca, Nicole and Sarah film promos for their would-be shows on Food Network, and it's in these last snippets of the contest that the mentors can impart sage industry advice and good-to-know tips for the future.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's brand-new penultimate episode. Bobby looks as if he's in deep thought midconversation, relaying feedback to a rival during his or her promo taping. What do you think he could be conveying, this late in the competition, and do you think there's still time for the contestants to heed his guidance?

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

by in Interviews, July 27, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10With only one episode until the final-four rivals will pitch their would-be Food Network show to executives, the pressure was on this week as the top-five hopefuls arrived in New York City for the last leg of their Food Network Star journey. If you haven't yet watched the episode, read no further because Star Talk is about to dish on what went down and reveal who was sent home.

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Caption It: Anything Can Happen

by in Food Network Star, July 25, 2014

Rachael Ray on Food Network StarIt was only a few weeks ago that Food Network Star finalists got their first taste of live demonstrations; from the energy of an in-person crowd to the unfamiliar surroundings onstage, nearly everything about the first unscripted setup was uncommon for the hopefuls. Come this Sunday night, contestants will again experience the demands of live performances, but this time they will have to do so on television — alongside superstar Rachael Ray.

The queen of 30-minute meals and a longtime Food Network icon, Rachael is a pro at talking and cooking live, as she hosts her own daytime show, The Rachael Ray Show. She knows well that when it comes to live TV, anything can — and often does — happen, since there's no way to prepare for the unexpected, so she's just the special guest to teach this lesson to the hopefuls. Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode. What do you think has led Rachael to make such an expression and to throw her hands in the air? Was one finalist's presentation entirely unanticipated, or could she be reacting to the day's events as a whole?

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Caption It: Cha-Ching

by in Food Network Star, July 18, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10Last week Food Network Star finalists embraced one of the most-faced aspects of Las Vegas — an over-the-top party scene — as they hosted a poolside bash for hotel visitors, and this Sunday they'll indulge in the city's opulent food offerings when they experience one-of-a-kind meals. But to win big in Sin City's culinary scene, competitors will need more than just a bit of good fortune, as luck can change there as quickly as the spin of a roulette wheel.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode. Looking elated, Nicole seems to have landed the jackpot as she stands next to her fellow rivals. Do you think she's cashing in on an advantage, or has a top performance warranted her hearty smile? How will Nicole and the other contestants fare in the face of Las Vegas' fancy food?

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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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