Eliminated Week 7
Serena, 31 (New York, N.Y.), a New York corporate attorney and former ballerina, taught herself how to prepare food with unusual ingredients while growing up in southern Italy. She currently hosts an online instructional cooking show, “Cooking in Manhattan,” on YouTube and believes the cooking process should be simple and healthy.
Food specialty: Mediterranean food
In New York: Kesté Pizza & Vino, Bottega del Vino, Morandi, Bar Masa, Casa Mono, Momofuku Ssam Bar and Freemans
In Rome: 'Gusto, Dal Bolognese and Antica Pesa
In Sicily: La Madia
In Capri: Da Paolino
Three foods you can't live without (other than bread or water): Japanese-style sushi, Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookies and a real Neapolitan-style pizza
Food you won't go near: I love all food, but probably I would not eat fried insects.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: If I ate it, I did not think it was weird! And I always appreciate a chance to experiment with food when I travel.
Interests and hobbies: Traveling, reading, watching movies, working out, shopping (I love fashion — what can I say? I'm Italian.)
Favorite Food Network chef: Alton Brown and Giada de Laurentiis
Favorite shows (don't have to be on Food Network): True Blood, White Collar, United States of Tara, Top Gear, Kitchen Nightmares, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Nurse Jackie and Royal Pains
Favorite food destination: I was born and raised in Italy, so I would do a disservice to my country if I said something else, but I also love Peru for Tiradito, Brazil for Pao de Queijo and Bolinos de Bacalau, Spain for tapas, Greece for moussaka and France for pretty much everything else!
My mother, the most precise baker, the most patient teacher and ultimately the best home cook I know.
My grandmother, for the traditional approach to cooking.
My Aunt Luisa, for the wise use of peppers.
My mother-in-law, for the classics from the '60s.
And the men in my life — my dad, who could clean seafood with surgical precision and my husband, without whom I would never see the big picture.
Three people, alive or dead, whom you'd like to invite to a dinner party, and what culinary delights would you prepare for your guests: I would love to have dinner with these guests and this is what I would prepare:
I'd serve Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes over Fennel Salad.
Aristotle (yep, the Greek Philosopher) would get Roasted Leg of Lamb with Braised Artichokes.
And I'd prepare a traditional and decadent Tiramisu for the beloved Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers.
Favorite books: I LOVE reading and the list of my favorite books is quite lengthy, but let me give it a try: the Harry Potter saga; the Sookie Stackhouse saga; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsen; A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society by Charles Finch; The Salvo Montalbano Adventures by Andrea Camilleri; The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall-Smith; The Janissary Tree, The Snake Stone and The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; and well pretty much any detective stories I can put my hands on.
Favorite movies: Watching movies is another big passion of mine so this list is not exhaustive of all the movies I love — pretty much every James Bond movie, even the most recent one; movies by Pedro Almodovar, especially Volver and La Mala Education; most all Woody Allen movies, even Whatever Works; Fellini's Dolce Vita and Le Notti di Cabiria; old Pink Panther movies just because of Peter Sellers; The Royal Tenenbaums; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited; quirky independent movies like Little Miss Sunshine, Le Valet and Priceless and other modern French movies; and many action movies like Transporter (1, 2 and 3), Iron Man and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Why do you think you should be the Season 6 Food Network Star: I should be the Food Network Star because I love food and I believe that viewers can relate to me as a home cook with a busy lifestyle more than a trained chef. I love entertaining and sharing my tips and tricks with the viewer to get in the kitchen and get creative even if they are in a rush or on a budget. My recipes come from tradition, experience, travel and experiments in my own kitchen. I can bring the viewers on a trip around the Mediterranean, South America and the Caribbean with my recipes and bring to life the flavors that I have experienced in my extensive travels. Finally, I am very creative with food and I always explain my recipes and potential shortcuts very clearly so every one of my viewers can feel empowered to try them in their own kitchen.