There 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.