Michael, 28 (City Island, N.Y.), joined the restaurant industry at a young age and worked his way up from washing dishes and prepping food to become executive chef at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, N.Y. The New York Restaurant School graduate infuses his bold personality into everything he does and admits that his "inner diva" sometimes comes out in the kitchen. A native New Yorker, Michael uses influences from the variety of markets available to him and brings his appreciation for global cuisine and his one-of-a-kind attitude to the competition.
Food specialty: Global with a love for Asian and Latin cusines – making food fabulous!
Favorite restaurant: At the moment, it's this little truck on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. They have the best yuca pasteles and chichorones.
Three foods you can't live without (other than bread or water): Siracha because I like it hot; sesame seeds because they have great flavor and look good; and lastly, pork (in all its forms) because it's so versatile and yummy.
Food you won't go near: I do it all, honey!
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Tripe and calf brains
Interests: Food, art, pop culture, reading and travel
Favorite Food Network chef: The 'Fab' Morimoto – what can I say? I am a sucker for a man who only wears PJ's in public. He is also a culinary visionary and every time I am exposed to his work I say "wow, I want to do that," just like a great painting makes me want to paint.
Favorite shows (doesn't have to be Food Network): Pimp My Ride, Hello, Exhibit is the Man
Favorite food destination: New York City! We got it all so there is no need to travel.
Culinary inspirations: Asia, Latin America and, my parents.
Three people, alive or dead, whom you'd like to invite to a dinner party: Dolly Parton because I am a die-hard Dolly fan (hi Dolly!) and she would certainly spice up the night with her killer personality; my dad because he was the best cook I ever knew; and Escoffier because he was a holy man when it comes to food.
Favorite books: At the moment it's anything Davis Sedaris writes – I love to laugh and he gets the job done!
Favorite movies: House of Yes, because Parker Posey is a freak in it and I love her!
Why do you think you should be the Season 5 Food Network Star? Easy, because I am the best!