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.

Cheers to the Rebel: New Star Justin Chats With Fans

by in Food Network Star, July 24, 2012

Justin Warner's Winning Moment Season 8Just one day after being crowned the next Food Network Star, Justin Warner was already on the job.

He stopped by Food Network’s offices on Monday to join a Facebook chat with some of his biggest fans. Offering a rarely seen glimpse of what makes him tick, Justin answered fans’ questions about everything — his hopes for his new show, the craziest meal he’s ever made, his favorite movies, hair product of choice and more. Read on for some of the best moments from our Q&A session with Justin and get to know this Rebel With a Culinary Cause.

Debbie Smith: Congratulations, Justin! Has the shock worn off yet? My question is: In five years, what other projects would you like to do for FN? I ask this because many of the stars branch out after their first show settles in. For example, Guy with his Big Bites, DDD and hosting cook-offs.

Justin Warner (JW): No, the shock has not worn off. I'm still stupefied. I think there is an array of applications for someone like myself.

Regina Petrucci: What's your favorite moment from being on the show?

JW: My favorite moment was when Martie got to make a pilot too.

Maria Eivers Medley: What was the one experience on the show that you wish you could have done differently or do over again?

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Caption It: A Look Back at the Season’s Best Moments

by in Food Network Star, July 20, 2012

Think back to this season’s Food Network Star premiere. For the first time, we were introduced to Team Alton’s quirky cast of characters, Team’s Giada’s little family unit and Team Bobby’s batch of no-nonsense cooks. Robert Irvine stopped by to present the first challenge, a Restaurant: Impossible-style mission that tasked the teams with opening their own restaurants on a limited budget. There were even on-stage acrobatics in that episode, thanks to Team Giada’s Josh, who began his presentation with an over-the-top somersault. It wasn't even long ago, but a whole lot has happened to those initial 15 finalists since then.

As you get ready to watch this Sunday’s finale episode and find out who you, the fans, picked to be our next Food Network Star, take a look back at where it all started. Find out more about Team Alton, Team Giada and Team Bobby and re-watch past full episodes or catch up on any that you missed. Hear from eliminated finalists, get exclusive interviews with guest judges, the mentors and more and flip through our photo gallery of the season’s most memorable moments.

Don't forget to check out the final four contenders’ pilot videos — on Sunday one of them will become Food Network’s newest show.

Before you tune in to the finale this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this retrospective moment in the comments below.

 

Poll: Who Was the Best Mentor?

by in Food Network Star, July 19, 2012

Alton, Giada and Bobby - Food Network StarWhen it comes to mentoring, Bobby’s, Alton’s and Giada’s styles couldn’t be more different. In the season premiere, we learned what each was looking for when they hand-picked their teams of five Food Network Star hopefuls: Bobby sought out no-nonsense cooks, Alton culinary teachers and Giada outgoing personalities. As the season continued, it turned out that the mentors’ selection criteria mirrored their own leadership styles.

Bobby found it most effective to maintain a professional relationship with his team and to tailor his instruction to each individual's needs. He spoke of his approach to the other mentors in an exclusive video. “I really try to bounce off the people that I’m mentoring, because I feel like they sort of drive me to the way I’m going to mentor and what I’m going to actually utilize to help them,” he said in Miami.

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The Most Intense Episode. Ever. — Star Commentary

by in Food Network Star, July 18, 2012



Well, you can’t say that Food Network doesn’t know how to shake things up, right? This year, the network is leaving the decision of this year’s winner in your hands, fans. And while the opportunity to vote for your next Star ended last night at 5pm, you can relive the emotional and surprising episode that sent four hopefuls instead of three to the finale.

In an unprecedented moment during last Sunday’s elimination, both of Team Alton’s final two contenders, Justin and Martie, were given green lights to create show pilots and advanced to the finale to compete against Team Bobby’s Michele and Team Giada’s Yvan. Understandably, tension filled the air in Miami’s outdoor pitch room, as Alton, Justin and Martie waited to find out who would be sent home. And of course, that same angst found its way into many fans’ living rooms on Sunday, as they endured a doozy of a cliffhanger.

Sunny Anderson was among those watching the drama unfold from home. Though she sat on the guest panel that judged the six contestants’ promo videos, she and the other judges didn’t see the elimination, so this week’s shocking turn of events was just as stunning to her as it was to fans. Sunny Tweeted a spot-on reaction to the commercial break before the announcement. “IF YOU JUST YELLED AT YOUR TV RT!!!! I hate a cliffhanger!!! #star,” she wrote, earning our Fan Post of the Week. Many fellow Star fans echoed her feelings. Read more

Caption It: Do They Like What They See?

by in Food Network Star, July 13, 2012

Susie, Anne, Jeff and SunnyAfter nine weeks of Star Challenges, Producers’ Challenge face-offs, last-minute secret ingredients, celebrity chef appearances and Miami beach parties, the competition comes down to this Sunday’s penultimate episode. The top six Food Network Star finalists, Ippy, Justin, Martie, Michele, Nikki and Yvan, have just one chance to strut their stuff and prove themselves worthy of a chance at stardom in a promo for their own Food Network show.

Who better to judge the finalists’ performances than a group of food-television pros, including Anne Burrell, last season’s Star winner Jeff Mauro and Sunny Anderson. Take a look at the sneak-peek shot above and notice Jeff’s slight smile and Anne’s and Sunny’s questioning eyes — do you think they like what they see? For which finalists will the Star dream end on Sunday, and who will be able to film their very own pilot programs?

Check out a video preview of Sunday night’s episode to get more behind-the-scenes footage.

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this telling moment in the comments below.

Then after Sunday's episode, the winner comes down to you, fans! Be sure to visit FoodNetwork.com/Star before Tuesday, July 17 at 5pm to cast your vote for our next Food Network Star. You can vote online up to 10 times per day.

Poll: Who’s the Most Improved Star Finalist?

by in Food Network Star, July 11, 2012

Who's the Most Improved Star Finalist?Think back to almost 10 weeks ago when we first met this season’s 15 Food Network Star hopefuls. As a group, they were a bit timid, unsure of the whole cooking-in-front-of-a-camera-for-famous-people thing, but extremely eager to prove themselves and their cooking chops to their mentors and the network. Thanks to the mentoring of Alton, Bobby and Giada, each contestant had the opportunity to grow as a cook and potential television personality, though some finalists’ stays at Star were too short-lived to benefit from their advice. The remaining six finalists, however, have enjoyed a month and a half of constructive criticism and countless chances to show their progress toward stardom, and this Sunday, Ippy, Justin, Martie, Michele, Nikki and Yvan will have a final few moments to demonstrate their improvement and promising Star potential in a promo for their would-be Food Network show.

Tell us: Which of the remaining Star finalists is the most improved contender?

 

Expect the Unexpected — Star Commentary

by in Food Network Star, July 10, 2012

Nikki Martin

Sabotage was the name of the game this week, as the final seven Food Network Star contenders attempted to dodge unexpected hurdles during their live cooking demos. These obstacles ranged from a messed-up microphone during Yvan’s performance and a broken blender in Nikki’s presentation to a persistent audience heckler during Justin’s demo and everything in between. The idea was to play to the finalists’ weaknesses in an attempt to gauge how they instinctively react to unforeseen challenges and minor issues. “They’ve gotta roll with the punches and come out the other end,” Alton Brown explained.

Though some viewers were frustrated that the contestants were purposely messed with, others couldn’t help but laugh as they watched the finalists maneuver — some gracefully, some not so much — through their presentations. One Star fan, Holly Burtchaell @RandomCravings, Tweeted her reaction to this week’s challenge. “I hate to admit it…I love the episode when they mess with them! @FoodNetwork #Star,” she wrote, earning our Fan Post of the Week.

Join the #Star conversation on Twitter and Facebook and your comments may be featured in our weekly roundup of Fan Chatter. 

Who’s your favorite finalist still in the running? Don’t forget to cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day and tune in to this Sunday’s episode at 9pm/8c to see who from #TeamAlton#TeamBobby or #TeamGiada goes home next.

Caption It: Cooking With Cameras

by in Food Network Star, July 6, 2012

Week after week, we see that for many Food Network Star finalists, the camera proves to be their toughest challenge. It forces them to look past the lens and make a connection with viewers, while, of course, remembering to speak clearly, explain their dishes, weave in personal stories, integrate their culinary points of view and more – all in a matter of seconds.

But one aspect of Star that’s rarely shown is what it takes to cook in the midst of cameras, to slice and dice ingredients, sauté on the stove, work kitchen appliances and more while multiple cameras are watching and recording every move. In this sneak-peek shot from Sunday night’s episode, we get a feel for the conditions in which Martie, Justin, Michele, Nikki and the others are working. Do these seemingly larger-than-life cameras distract the finalists, or are they just used to them by week nine? Heading into the final few weeks of the competition, will they be able to keep their cool on camera?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this close-up moment in the comments below.

 

Poll: Which Eliminated Finalist Would You Bring Back?

by in Food Network Star, July 5, 2012


We’ve seen your Tweets, Facebook posts and blog comments, and we know that some viewers are frustrated, confused and downright angry about particular eliminations from the past eight episodes. One Food Network Star fan went so far as to write that the network “made the worst decision ever” in sending home Team Alton’s Emily.

It’s the nature of the Star beast that even in the very first week of the competition someone must be eliminated. Still, you can’t help but wonder if that first person and others sent home later could have improved, and proven themselves real contenders, if they stayed longer. After all, maybe they just needed a few extra days to adjust to the demands of shooting. Perhaps they would have benefitted from more time with their mentors.

If you could, which eliminated finalist would you bring back?

Who’s your favorite finalist still in the running? Don’t forget to cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Paula’s Biggest Fan — Star Commentary

by in Food Network Star, July 4, 2012


As if the Miami sun wasn’t enough to heat up last week’s episode of Food Network Star, Paula Deen stopped by to attend the beach party the finalists threw for VIP guests at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. She and her son Bobby joined the mentors and network to taste and judge the remaining contestants’ dishes, and offer words of encouragement and constructive criticism to those who needed it.

No one had a better reaction to Paula’s arrival than Team Alton’s Martie. In one of the most endearing moments of the season, she became overcome with emotion and “is-this-real-life” thoughts, crying in the middle of the challenge, “This is a huge deal. I’m Martie Duncan from Birmingham, Alabama, and I’m cooking for Paula Deen!” Paula, too, became emotional during judging, saying that she “loved Martie the person” and “could identify with everything she said.” These two Southern gals were truly “birds of a feather,” as Martie put it.

Star viewer Arian @afgbruins21 couldn’t help but notice Martie’s over-the-top reaction to seeing and meeting the queen of Southern cuisine. “Dying Martie is fangirling over Paula Deen so hard I love it so cute #star,” she Tweeted, expressing the thoughts of the judges, mentors and fellow finalists, and earning our Fan Post of the Week.

Join the #Star conversation on Twitter and Facebook and your comments may be featured in our weekly roundup of Fan Chatter. 

Who’s your favorite finalist still in the running? Don’t forget to cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day and tune in to this Sunday’s episode at 9pm/8c to see who from #TeamAlton#TeamBobby or #TeamGiada goes home next.