All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate 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.

The Early Days of Stardom — Bobby Flay

by in Food Network Star, May 31, 2013

Bobby FlayThree of Food Network's longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we'll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor's earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.

Although he's now the host of Bobby's Barbecue Addiction and Barbecue with Bobby Flay, this New York City chef's range in the industry reaches far beyond outdoor grilling. A longtime Iron Chef, Bobby has been competing on the Chairman's elite team of culinary masters since Iron Chef America's inception in 2005, although he partook in several face-offs with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, an Iron Chef in Japan, before he, too, joined the ranks of Kitchen Stadium stateside.

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Pre-Premiere Predictions: Vote for Your Early Favorites

by in Food Network Star, May 31, 2013

Food Network Star Season 9For the last two weeks, Star Talk has introduced you to Star-a-Day in preparation for Sunday's brand-new Food Network Star, Season 9 premiere at 9pm/8c. Starting this weekend, these hopefuls will begin an 11-week journey for the chance to earn their own show on Food Network, but with returning judge-mentors Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis at the helm, you can be sure that their journey to stardom won't be an easy one. You've met each of the contestants, watched their casting videos and now have a taste for their culinary viewpoints in the kitchen. Judging by just what you've seen and know about them so far, who do you think will be able to achieve that coveted combination of top-notch kitchen know-how, on-camera charm and relatability to the home cook?

Before you tune in on Sunday night, Star Talk is challenging you, Star fans, to make your pre-premiere predictions for who will be one of the front-running finalists this season. Do you think Daniela's international point of view will make her relatable to a larger audience, or will Danushka's no-nonsense attitude make her especially effective? Has Nikki's camera experience given her what she needs to succeed? As a group, do Stacey, Viet, Russell, Rodney, Chad and Chris have an advantage as restaurant owners? Are you inspired by Andres' story of weight loss? Do you have a gut instinct that Lovely's performance will be too lovely to resist, or are you simply drawn to Damaris' Southern charisma?

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Star-a-Day: Viet Pham

by in Food Network Star, May 30, 2013

Viet PhamYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Viet Pham, 34, was born in Malaysia and moved to California when he was a child. This James Beard Award semi-finalist grew up cooking for his brother at home and later graduated from the California Culinary Academy. Now the owner of a Salt Lake City restaurant, Viet was victorious over Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America Battle Ground Meat and is known for creating globally inspired cuisine.

Watch Viet's casting video

Star-a-Day: Stacey Poon-Kinney

by in Food Network Star, May 29, 2013

Stacey Poon-KinneyYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Having grown up cooking in a food-focused family, Stacey Poon-Kinney, 34, became familiar with the restaurant scene at a young age, thanks to her great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who worked as a chef and a diner owner, respectively. She eventually pursued her passion for dance and performance, but she later teamed up with her father to open The Trails restaurant, which was featured on Restaurant: Impossible. This mother of two now lives in San Diego and runs The Trails.

Watch Stacey's casting video

The Early Days of Stardom — Giada De Laurentiis

by in Food Network Star, May 28, 2013

Giada De LaurentiisThree of Food Network's longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we'll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor's earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.

Although she grew up with a passion for cooking in a food-minded family (her grandfather Dino De Laurentiis owned a specialty foods shop), Giada De Laurentiis never intended to enter the culinary industry and even pursued a career outside of the world of television by earning a degree in anthropology. Despite her best intentions, however, Giada, of course, succumbed to her love of all things culinary and enrolled in Paris' Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It was only after founding her own catering company in Los Angeles that Giada began work at Food Network, not on some of her now-most-popular series, like Food Network Star and Giada at Home, but on Everyday Italian, her premiere in-the-kitchen show.

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Star-a-Day: Russell Jackson

by in Food Network Star, May 28, 2013

Russell JacksonYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Owner of a San Francisco underground supper club, Russell Jackson, 47, competed against Iron Chef Jose Garces in Iron Chef America Battle Rhubarb. He's been cooking since he was 3 years old, when he first experimented with applesauce in the kitchen. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Russell now specializes in using local, seasonal ingredients to inspire unconventional meals with individual style.

Watch Russell's casting video

Star-a-Day: Rodney Henry

by in Food Network Star, May 27, 2013

Rodney HenryYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Owner of several Dangerously Delicious Pies shops, Rodney Henry, 47, lives in Baltimore, and he is known for challenging the meaning of everyday pies by creating sweet and savory interpretations of this all-American classic. This father of two is a former musician who's appeared on multiple Food Network shows, including Chopped, Down Home With the Neelys and Paula's Home Cooking.

Watch Rodney's casting video

Star-a-Day: Nikki Dinki

by in Food Network Star, May 26, 2013

Nikki DinkiYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

A food blogger living in New York City, Nikki Dinki, 29, follows a semi-vegetarian diet. After growing up a picky eater, she was determined to change her culinary habits, so she set out to learn how to cook. Nikki's able to combine her background in acting with her passion for cooking by hosting a cooking show online.

Watch Nikki's casting video

Star-a-Day: Lovely Jackson

by in Food Network Star, May 25, 2013

Lovely JacksonYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Born Connie Jackson, Lovely, 27, adopted her nickname when she was a child, as the baby of her family. She's a culinary school graduate with a bachelor's degree in culinary management, and she lives in Los Angeles. As a private chef for high-profile clients, Lovely works to bring glam to the kitchen through diamond-studded knives and edible diamonds.

Watch Lovely's casting video

Star-a-Day: Danushka Lysek

by in Food Network Star, May 24, 2013

Danushka LysekYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Danushka Lysek, 37, is a former Chopped competitor now living and working in New York City as a private chef. A culinary school graduate, she specializes in creating seasonal farm-to-table cuisine, and she's known for her unapologetically honest opinions.

Watch Danushka's casting video

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