Michele Ragussis Bio

Michele Ragussis is a finalist on Season 8 of Food Network Star.

Michele Ragussis, 42 (Brooklyn, N.Y.), grew up in an Italian/Greek family where food was, and still is, a big part of their lives. She fell in love with the New England lifestyle and cuisine when she moved to Rhode Island to attend college. After deciding that hands-on restaurant experience was more valuable to her than attending classes, Michele went on to spend 15 years in executive chef positions. Her distinctive tattoos and piercings may look intimidating, but Michele’s personality is warm, relaxed and fun.

Star Scrapbook: Michele Ragussis

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My New England

Michele Ragussis, a 42-year-old Brooklyn chef, made it to the final four with a POV inspired by her New England roots.

Michele's Star Journal

Michele was psyched to be on "Team Flay" from day one, when she arrived at the NYC Star house to meet her fellow finalists. Each contender was given a Food Network journal to use for challenge planning and reflection throughout the competition.

First Challenge

The first challenge was right up Michele and Team Bobby's alley. They had to create a pop-up restaurant from scratch in 24 hours, and this group of restaurant veterans felt confident about the task.

Team Bobby

Team Bobby named their restaurant The Tasting Space and Michele prepared a dish of mussels and chorizo. It was a great start to her Star run: "This dish is just like her, bold and confident. The crowd loved her. I agree with them," said Bob Tuschman.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

POV Points

From the beginning, Michele had a clear vision for her New England POV. She jotted down some dishes, ingredients and ideas that defined it in her journal.

Star Loft Snapshots

The finalists were also given digital cameras to document life behind the scenes in the Star house. Teammates Michele and Nikki quickly became tight — here a fellow finalist snapped a shot of "Bobby's girls" hanging out between challenges.

Dish Makeover

For the Fashion Week challenge, Michele unveiled a bland dish of flounder and steamed broccoli. She recreated it as sea bass and broccoli rabe with POV-appropriate "accessories" of fried littleneck clams. Here, she wrote out a script for her runway presentation.

Twins?

When Guy Fieri arrived for the next challenge, he and Michele shared a laugh over their matching haircuts and outfits: "Are you my brother?" Michele joked.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Mom's Meatballs

Guy and the judges loved Michele's mom's famous meatball with spaghetti squash instead of pasta. "I thought there was a star on stage," says Bob. The kids in the audience were also fans, and Michele was right — they didn't miss the pasta.

Bonding Across Teams

Back in the Star loft, Michele and Malcolm from Team Bobby take a rare minute to relax with Team Giada's Ippy and Martita. As the weeks progressed, all of the finalists grew close despite their strong team allegiances.

Budding Artist?

Michele drew this little sketch on a page of her journal. Do you recognize any of the faces?

Made It to Miami

Michele made it to Miami for the final leg of the competition. During her live demo at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Bobby wanted to see how well she could roll with the punches and had the assistant director give her wrong time cues. With extra time to fill, she started to riff and told stories about going clamming with her dad.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Live Demo Checklist

With the timing snafu, Michele wasn't able to stick to the points she'd outlined in her journal for the demo, but it ended up working out for the better. "Once she started to have a little fun, she was more adorable," said Susie Fogelson.

Three Takes

Michele advanced to the final test, a 30-second promo of her potential Food Network show. Bobby advised her to stop looking at the camera "like it owes her money" and to have more fun.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Promo Script

"New England is a region that's just not covered. I need to be the one to take them there and I have 30 seconds to prove it," said Michele. She succeeded and was asked to come back to New York to shoot a pilot for My New England with Bobby.

Michele's Pilot

"I am just being me and making the food I love. I want this more than I've wanted anything in my life," said Michele. Bobby was happy and proud of the pilot they produced: "Awesome, awesome, awesome job. That was perfect."

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