Star-a-Day: Dominick Tesoriero

Get to know Dominick, a finalist on Food Network Star, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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 New York's Dominick  Tesoriero.

Dominick, 30 (Staten Island, N.Y.), is a charming, funny New Yorker who has been hamming it up for his friends and family all his life. His culinary training took him to Italy, where he refined his skills and placed second in an international cooking competition. Dom believes in quality ingredients, solid technique and simple cooking. He now owns New York’s first and only mac-and-cheese food truck.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence — if you can.

Dominick Tesoriero: Classic Italian techniques from a New York state of mind

If you could ask Bobby and Giada to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?

DT: Giada, she makes Italian food look good. I wish I could do the same, just like she did. Bobby, how to be such a badass.

What one thing do you really want to convey to the mentors about you, your food or your would-be Food Network show?

DT: My authenticity. I'm a real New Yorker, and I'm not just somebody who can tell you about traditional Italian food; I've also lived in Italy, twice. I lived in China. I lived in Vancouver. I've been all over the world. I've had a lot of wonderful experiences, and I really look forward to sharing them with everybody, and I want to be taken seriously.

Win or lose, what's something you want to take away from this contest?

DT: Win or lose for me, it's business as usual is the mentality. I know I could cross this off my bucket list if I lose. How many people do you know that get to do this kind of stuff? This is a huge opportunity for me. Win or lose, it doesn't matter. I'm just happy to be here.

What's your greatest strength in the kitchen?

DT: My ability to get things done. I have a career in restaurants, but also a career in catering. ... From a restaurant, you learn how to put out 10 or 15 plates, maybe, within a 10-minute span, whereas in catering and large-scale events, putting out quality food in volume, maybe you have to get out 1,600 meals within a certain time frame. So, the timing of getting all that done — what you can do on a small scale and what can be done on a large scale. Those are the two things that I feel are assets to me.

What is the strangest thing we'd find in your refrigerator right now?

DT: I'm an ice cream fanatic. You'll probably find, like, five or six pints of ice cream. The strangest thing, though? Maybe Kewpie mayonnaise [a Japanese mayonnaise].

What do you consider to be your signature dish?

DT: I really love to make agnolotti del plin. It's a Piedmontese classic. I spent a lot of time in Piedmont. ... When I first went to Piedmont, it was the day before Easter, I sit down to eat at a pizzeria and I asked for something typical from here and agnolotti del plin is what came. And I took one bite of it, and I felt like I had never eaten pasta before in my life. It was so amazing, texturally and the depth of flavor. It was so delicious. From that moment on, the way I looked at Italian food had changed.

What was the first dish you perfected?

DT: Risotto. Something that you learn in Italy when you're making risotto is a technique — mantecato. At the end of the risotto, you're making waves and you mount it with butter and you mount it with cheese, and you pull it off and you really create that cremosa — that creamy flavor, which is why risotto is awesome.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?

DT: There are certain things I prefer and then there are certain things I prefer not to cook with, but there's nothing off the top of my head where I'm like, "Get this off my plate." I'm not that way. Everything, to each his own.

What's your favorite late-night snack?

DT: I depends on how ambitious I'm feeling. Ice cream — I don't have to make anything. But sometimes I get very ambitious and I'll start making these projects in my house.

What is one must-have dish at your last supper?

DT: It has to be the agnolotti. And Madalena has to make it. Madalena was the name of the lady who made it in the pizzeria, and at that moment, I said to her, "You have to teach me how to make this." Every Monday after school for the first month that I was there, I went to the pizzeria — in her house, in the back — and me and the little old ladies made it.

What do you want to say about yourself to fans watching at home?

DT: I think Staten Islanders kind of get a bad rap. I know I might seem very cliche. I want people to like me.

Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Bagels
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
French fries or onion rings? French fries
White meat or dark? Dark
Cake or pie? Cake
Beer or wine? Both
French toast or pancakes? French toast

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