From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin
(Putnam Adult, 2013, 448 pages)
As soon as I read about this book I requested it from the library. How could I not read a book all about the Food Network? From Scratch gives us the history of the channel, from how it got started and launched the celebrity chef to how it has grown larger than imagined and has to deal with all kinds of scandals pertaining to its on-air personalities. The first quarter of the book when the channel was just getting started was a little slow for me – I was waiting for the gossip on the people I cared about. But it was interesting to see how the concept of the Food Network even came about and the amount of time it took to get on its feet was surprising to me. I personally thing it should go back to the way things were with more shows actually focused on cooking, rather than restaurant stakeouts, grocery store games, etc… and who knows, the way things are always changing there it just might happen that they go back to their roots 😉
Once Salkin started talking about Emeril, Bobby Flay, Giada, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Sandra Lee, etc. the book definitely went much faster for me. Salkin had access to a NUMBER of people associated with the network (seriously, almost everyone was willing to talk to him) and he addressed all the Food Network scandals that come to mind: when Robert Irvine’s resume was revealed to be fraudulent, when Paula Deen endorsed a diabetes drug… and then later when Paula’s “racial remark” came into the news, when Guy Fieri opened his New York City restaurant, and don’t forget Sandra Lee’s infamous “Kwanzaa cake” fiasco… If you’re a Food Network watcher you’ll enjoy this book. It definitely made me appreciate the work that went into making the shows when things first got off the ground.
This will be an entertaining read for Food Network fans and people who might be interested in tv history in general. You get a unique behind-the-scenes look at how cable has changed, what all goes in to getting a new channel on the air, and how hard it can be for management and creative to get along.