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.

Giada Talks Mentoring Styles: “I Really Want to Get to the Core of a Person”

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 2, 2015
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Giada De LaurentiisOn Sunday, 12 hopeful rivals will kick off their journey to stardom. And although how they portray themselves on camera and what dishes they prepare in Food Star Kitchen is ultimately up to them, they're not alone in the contest: Mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there throughout the competition, not only as judges but also as mentors tasked with fostering the finalists' budding Star power.

Recently Star Talk caught up with Giada to find out what it's like for her to mentor these rivals and how her approach to the responsibility differs from Bobby's method. "We have very different mentoring styles," Giada told us in an exclusive interview. "I'm more of a mom in the sense that I really want to get to the core of a person. And I really want to instill in them a sense of empowerment. I feel cooking is — for me, anyway — has always been part of an empowerment. I feel strong when I'm cooking. Everybody here who loves to cook feels strong when they're cooking."

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You Can Trust These Star-Powered Recipes

by in Food Network Star, June 1, 2015
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You Can Trust These Star-Powered RecipesIt's no secret that the road to stardom is a brutal one, paved with mentors' honest critiques, pressures from fellow rivals, plus, of course, finalists' internal drives to succeed. So you know that by the time a Star is crowned at the end of 11 weeks, the winner is simply the best of the best, both on camera and in the kitchen. Guy Fieri, Melissa d'Arabian, Damaris Phillips and other past Star winners are proof of that, and when it comes to their culinary chops, their abilities to turn everyday ingredients into wow-worthy meals is second to none.

There are many ways to build up your collection of sweet and savory favorites, but perhaps the best is to start with Star-powered recipes, those classic dishes from past Food Network Star winners. From Guy's bacon-studded macaroni and cheese to Melissa's saucy pulled pork and Damaris' rich, creamy chocolate pudding, these tried-and-true bites are crowd-pleasers. Click here to get these recipes and more from some of the most-memorable past victors, then get set for a new season of Star, premiering Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c.

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From the Network’s Point of View: Susie Fogelson on 11 Seasons of Star Power and Culinary POVs

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 29, 2015

Susie FogelsonMuch like Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are no strangers to the inner workings of Food Network Star. These Food Network executives know well what to look for as they discern glimmers of Star power among the hopefuls, and each year it's up to them to sit with the mentors on the Selection Committee and represent the network as it recruits its newest personality. Just in time for next weekend's Season 11 premiere, on Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c, Star Talk chatted with both Bob and Susie to learn more about what their roles at Food Network look like beyond the Selection Committee and get their takes on what skills contestants ought to have before beginning this ultimate job interview.

Read on below to get the dish from Susie and learn her take on the all-important culinary POV, then click here for an exclusive interview with Bob.

Tell us about what you do. What does a typical day look like for you?
Susie Fogelson: I’m a pretty typical working mom. My goal every morning is to have my kids (and myself) fed, dressed and out the door by 8:30 a.m. We’re successful most of the time. I drop them off at school and then go to our lovely office in the Chelsea Market, where I’m typically in meetings from the moment I arrive until it’s time to go home and have dinner with my family. It’s a hectic, whirlwind of a schedule, but I love what I do.

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From the Network’s Point of View: Bob Tuschman on Searching for Stardom

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 28, 2015

Bob TuschmanMuch like Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are no strangers to the inner workings of Food Network Star. These Food Network executives know well what to look for as they discern glimmers of Star power among the hopefuls, and each year it's up to them to sit with the mentors on the Selection Committee and represent the network as it recruits its newest personality. Just in time for next weekend's Season 11 premiere, on Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c, Star Talk chatted with both Bob and Susie to learn more about what their roles at Food Network look like beyond the Selection Committee and get their takes on what skills contestants ought to have before beginning this ultimate job interview.

Read on below to get the dish from Bob and hear how the series has evolved since its earliest days, then click here to read an exclusive interview with Susie.

Beyond Food Network Star, what does your day-to-day job with the network look like?
Bob Tuschman: I'm the general manager of the network, and my main responsibility is overseeing the development, production and scheduling of all of our programming. I have an incredibly talented team of about 25 people who come up with ideas for shows, work with production companies and oversee every aspect of show production for Food Network to make sure that every show we do is up to the promise that we'll want to give our viewers. I also have another team that works strategically to schedule those shows in a way that ensures the most viewers can see the kind of programs they want to see when they want to see them. I'm lucky to say that I really get to be the conductor of an extremely talented orchestra that's ultimately responsible for creating everything that you see on our air.

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A Culinary Upbringing: The Mentors Talk Mentors

by in Food Network Star, May 27, 2015
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Bobby Flay and Giada De LaurentiisTo the 12 hopefuls beginning their Star journeys on June 7, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are the ultimate mentors, boasting decades' worth of both culinary and television experience that only a Food Network star can offer. But before Bobby and Giada claimed their places in the Star spotlight, they, too, relied on mentors to teach them, both in the kitchen and on Food Network. It's these personal and professional figures who helped them build the careers they now have and who ultimately gave them the tools to mentor the incoming class of Food Network Star finalists.

Click here to launch the gallery and hear from Bobby, Giada and more chefs, like Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael Symon, as they reflect on their most-meaningful mentors and reveal what they learned from them along the way.

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The First Taste of Food Star Kitchen: Finalists’ Signature Dishes, Revealed

by in Food Network Star, May 26, 2015

The First Taste of Food Star Kitchen: Finalists' Signature Dishes, RevealedThe finalists are just days away from making their premiere entrances in Food Star Kitchen, and while the dishes they make in this hallowed arena will depend largely on the challenges that mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis dish out, each rival is walking into the competition with a wealth of culinary experience behind them, including time spent perfecting a signature dish. Though many contestants admit to having more than one plate for which they're known, for some a signature dish is all about comfort food and the memories tied to it.

Read on below to hear from all 12 hopefuls as they reveals their signature dishes, then check out their one-on-one interviews to learn even more about them.

Alex McCoy: I would hope that I don't have one signature dish because I like using a lot of different ingredients. I think that if you were to ask the people who come in the restaurant, I'd say that my Thai curries are probably the signature dish. I spent a lot of time in Thailand. I take a lot of care in making sure that all of my Thai curries are homemade.

Arnold Myint: Wow. I have a lot of signature dishes, mainly because I have tons of restaurants that do well. But my favorite dish to cook, I'll say, is a simple roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and peas. There's just something nostalgic about that. It brings that memory back, and everybody has a story. If I cook it for somebody or somebody cooks it for me, I know it's coming from the heart.

Christina Fitzgerald: It depends on which day you catch me on. I have dishes that I like and ones that I've used in competitions. I don't know if there's a specific dish per se.

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Food Network Stars Reveal Their Lessons Learned After Years on TV

by in Food Network Star, May 25, 2015
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Food Network Stars Reveal Their Lessons Learned After Years on TVThe job of Food Network Star is a highly specialized one, which is why there are only a select few chefs who are worthy of the title — and why 12 hopeful finalists are willing to battle to claim that title in this summer's fiercest culinary competition. Before those rivals take the stage on June 7 to begin their journey to potential stardom, established pros like mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, as well as Rachael Ray and Alex Guarnaschelli, are coming together to offer the contestants industry advice in the form of top lessons learned.

Giada admits that for her, one of the most-important takeaways after years on TV has been "not being fearful to create my own path" and simply concerning herself with her own future, though for Bobby it comes down to the practicality of being on-air. "I know that I'm better on television when I'm even just a little bit prepared," he explains.

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Cook Like a Star with Bobby’s and Giada’s Best-Ever Recipes

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, May 24, 2015

Cook Like a Star with Bobby's and Giada's Best-Ever RecipesBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis may be two of Food Network's most-iconic stars — after all, who better than established pros to lead the 12 hopeful finalists vying for a shot at stardom? — but their skills go beyond being shining TV personalities. With years of experience in the kitchen turning out both sweet and savory favorites, they've perfected their recipes and added to each their signature styles and bold flavors.

Just in time for next month's Food Network Star premiere (Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c), show off your culinary chops by trying your hand at some of the mentors' most-tried-and-true dishes, from Bobby's glazed grilled seafood and guacamole with a kick to Giada's cheesy pasta and next-level chocolate cookies. Click here to launch the gallery to see 20 of their must-try classics.

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Finalists Reveal Their Culinary Mentors (Who Aren’t Bobby and Giada)

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 23, 2015

Food Network Star, Season 11 FinalistsIn just a few short weeks, the Food Network Star finalists will begin the job interview of their lives. And while Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will decide who among the finalists boasts glimmers of Star power and who ultimately does not make the grade, the judges will also be there as mentors to guide the hopefuls through the competition, teaching and inspiring them along the way. But to reach this place in their careers, and at the precipice of stardom, the hopefuls are bringing with them the wisdom and motivation of other mentors — professional and, often, personal too — who've helped ready them for this very competition.

Read on below as the 12 finalists reflect on their culinary mentors and what they've learned from these influences in years past.

Alex McCoy: Marco Pierre White has been my biggest influence. I had an opportunity to spend a little bit of time with him, and he's just such an amazing person. He's a pure chef, and I think the one thing that I really learned from him that I've taken through my entire career is his respect for ingredients.

Arnold Myint: My parents — both of them. My mother's a chef, and I was raised cooking with her. But my father's the one that cooked for me, so not only do I have the technique and the palate, but I also see the passion and the love behind creating a dish. Something as simple as an egg is memorable to me because of who made it.

Christina Fitzgerald: I have a lot of them. I would not want to say one, because I feel like I would hurt others' feelings because they've all done so much for me. And I'm so close to them, and I'm so grateful for all of the time that they offer up to help me.

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Chefs Speak Out on What Not to Do: Food Network Star Edition

by in Food Network Star, May 22, 2015

Chefs Speak Out on What Not to Do: Food Network Star EditionOften in the Food Network Star competition finalists are told what they need to do to succeed — hone their culinary points of view, master time management, bring bold flavors to their dishes — but it's not often that they learn what pitfalls to avoid on the road to stardom. No one knows these lessons quite like established Food Network stars, and recently Star Talk caught up with mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, and more of your favorite chefs, for their takes on what each contestant ought to avoid and how to shine as a Star hopeful.

Click here to launch the gallery and to hear from Bobby, Giada, Alex Guarnaschelli, Rachael Ray and other experts for their top tips.

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