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.

WATCH: Jernard Gets Uncivilized

by in Food Network Star, Videos, June 21, 2016

Following Jernard's blah performance during his tableside service presentation last week, the Food Network Star finalist was determined to bring his A-game this week. In the Mentor Challenge, he wowed the panel with a clever hack for a martini shaker and managed to drop what judge Bobby Flay called a little signature "Jernard swagger" in the process. "You have to be on tilt from here on out," Bobby told him. "Get uncivilized." Sure enough, come the Star Challenge, Jernard did just that, delivering a presentation at the tailgate in which he not only talked about taking shots with his wife, but also about how he rubs her feet. His strong showing — a de-civilization of the best kind, perhaps — indeed left a mark on the mentors. "You feel happiness pouring out of him, and it draws you in. And that's a gift," Giada De Laurentiis noted.

Relive Jernard's performances in both challenges by clicking the play button on the video above.

Read more

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

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 19, 2016

Food Network StarWith only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. Here on Star Talk, we'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home. Check back here every Sunday night for new one-on-one chats to hear from the just-eliminated competitors, learn their thoughts on the competition, and find out how they feel about the mentors' critiques of their final dishes and presentations. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episodes and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

Read more

Caption It: A Secret Meeting

by in Food Network Star, June 17, 2016

Food Network StarSure, the challenges on Food Network Star are a lot for any finalist to endure — they are downright difficult, actually — from the no-time-to-waste cooking blocks to the all-eyes-on-you presentations. But what's perhaps even more nerve-racking for the competitors is the time when the judges deliberate. During those few minutes, the finalists' fate hangs in the balance: Will they be spared one more week and advance to compete again, or will their journey end in a crushing elimination? Only time will tell, and it's that period of the unknown that we bet causes more anxiety than any one-minute video ever could.

Read more

Joy Is Running Away with the Fan Poll So Far — Who Are You Rooting For?

by in Community, Food Network Star, June 16, 2016

Food Network StarBy now you've seen the Food Network Star fan vote, right? You know that by supporting your favorite finalists you can help them top the polls? Good, because right now it seems like you all have strong — strongly positive — feelings for one hopeful in particular. Joy Thompson, a restaurateur and mom of five from North Carolina, is currently enjoying a nearly triple lead over the next-closest finalist. To date, Joy's garnered a whopping 44 percent of your votes, while baker Erin Campbell is coming in second place with 15 percent of the votes and Martita Jara, the winner of Comeback Kitchen, is trailing Erin closely with 13 percent.

Read more

Food Star Kitchen by the Numbers

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, June 16, 2016

Food Network StarWe recently released a brand-new photo tour of Food Star Kitchen, complete with an exclusive look inside the massive arena in which finalists cook, mentors deliberate and journeys end week after week. Now, with the help of the Season 12 culinary producers, we're taking it one step further, revealing little-known details about what it takes to stock the space for competition and the multitude of ingredients the finalists can use. Read on below to get all the details.

9: Crew members on the culinary team

688: Approximate pounds of produce that arrived on set at the start of the season

Read more

Watch Episode 1 of Star Salvation

by in Food Network Star, Videos, June 15, 2016

In the first several episodes of Food Network Star, hopefuls Havird, Aaron and Yaku came to the end of their journeys and were ultimately sent home — but not for long. This week they returned to Food Star Kitchen for a second shot at Stardom in the first installment of Star Salvation, hosted by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson, last year's winner of Food Network Star. Over the course of six weeks, ousted finalists from each episode will join Alex and Eddie, plus whichever rivals remain from past battles, to compete to rejoin the Season 12 competition. And if the first showdown, featuring Havird, Aaron and Yaku, is any indication, these mentors have no-nonsense challenges up their sleeves in an effort to find the worthiest competitor.

Read more

The Latest Winning Recipes You’ll Want to Try

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, June 14, 2016

Rainbow Chard and Carrot Top PestoEach week Food Network Star finalists are tasked with putting their personalities on a plate in inspiring, creative and, perhaps most importantly, delicious ways. Most competitors manage to get the job done, but in any particular challenge there's often just a small handful of rivals who succeed in creating a dish so impressive that it's worthy of the win. This week Jernard, Monterey and Yaku teamed up and wowed the panel with their ability to reinvent commonly tossed kitchen scraps, such as carrot tops and broccoli stems, into wow-worthy dishes, and together they earned victory in the Mentor Challenge. Check out their winning recipes below, then click here to browse all the mentors' top picks of plates from Season 12 and Star Salvation so far.

Read more

WATCH: 2 Cringe-Worthy Presentations That We Can’t Unsee

by in Food Network Star, Videos, June 14, 2016

You know those moments on TV that make you wince and curl up into a ball as you watch the action unfold through your fingers over your eyes? That happened not once but twice during this week's episode of Food Network Star. The stakes were high as finalists cooked for VIP hotel guests Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of Modern Family fame, and YouTube's Hannah Hart, and not everyone handled their nerves well.

As Monterey put the finishing touches on her sea bass dish during her tableside presentation, Bobby asked for details of the plate, to which Monterey simply replied, "Be patient." That's the retort to end all retorts, right? It was as uncomfortable as it sounds.

And not long after, Monterey was back in the spotlight, this time helping Ana with her dishes — and gaining an unfortunate nickname in the process. "Nut girl! Are you burning my nuts?" Ana questioned Monterey. Even the mentors couldn't help but laugh. And with Ana's obvious nervous energy added to the mix, the situation turned awkward — quickly.

Read more

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

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 12, 2016

Food Network StarWith only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. Here on Star Talk, we'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home. Check back here every Sunday night for new one-on-one chats to hear from the just-eliminated competitors, learn their thoughts on the competition, and find out how they feel about the mentors' critiques of their final dishes and presentations. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episodes and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

Read more

Caption It: Call-Waiting Edition

by in Food Network Star, June 10, 2016

Food Network StarIf Food Network Star finalists think their mentors, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, have particular requests when it comes to their presentations and offerings on the plate, just wait until this weekend when two special guests drop by unannounced. Hannah Hart, of YouTube's My Drunk Kitchen fame, and Modern Family sensation Jesse Tyler Ferguson show up and give the competitors game-changing calls just when they're least expected. If the rivals want to succeed, they'll have to think quickly and learn to embrace the unexpected amid contest pressure.

Read more