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From Scratch: Inside the Food Network Hardcover – October 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Food Network has risen from obscurity and ridicule in the early '90s to become a powerhouse of cable television, transforming chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen into celebrities and changing food culture forever. With a light wit and balanced perspective, Salkin, a former food and media reporter for the New York Times, presents the definitive history of the network from inception to the present day. Food Network devotees will delight at the inside knowledge of internal scandals, the intriguing biographies of their favorite star chefs, and an exclusive look at the ever-shifting lineup of executives and parent companies. The first act, detailing how the network was conceived, funded, and staffed, is tremendously dry and provides little entertainment, making it almost impenetrable for all but the network's most devoted fans. Once the stage is set, however, Salkin moves deftly between periods in the channel's development, garnishing the narrative with frequent quotes from influential personalities to add depth. Referring to nearly everyone by his or her first name makes for inevitable confusion, but patient readers will eventually uncover a nuanced and rich tale of an empire that no one expected to survive. Agent: Eric Lupfer, William Morris Endeavor (Oct.)

Review

Praise for From Scratch: Inside the Food Network
 
“Dishy, behind-the-scenes . . . it’s salacious enough to keep you swinging from one good old-fashioned bootstrap story to the next.”--New York Times Book Review
 
“Allen Salkin shows how the sausage really gets made at the Food Network in From Scratch, a behind-the-scenes history liberally spiced with gossip and unsavory tidbits.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“In From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, Allen Salkin guides readers through the history of the network, from its start in the 1990s to today. Along the way, Salkin serves up plenty of stories that will surprise and entertain. . . For Food Network addicts hungry to know more about the network, Salkin’s book will hit the spot.”—Associated Press
 
“A detailed look at the network from start-up phase to the present, with a generous lump of juicy stories about the network’s most polarizing figures—Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain and, of course, Paula Deen y’all—heaped on top.”—The Atlantic Wire
 
“For a full account of the network and its evolution, it’s worth reading Allen Salkin’s excellent, informative new tome.”—The Wall Street Journal

“You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy Allen Salkin’s new book — “From Scratch” (Putnam) — about the creation of The Food Network 20 years ago, and its turbulent but highly successful history since then. Salkin researched and writes the story so well that it has the energy of a great show business novel . . . It’s a TV business story, it’s a tale of the rise of the food and restaurant cultures over the past two decades, and it’s a look at a wide array of fascinating personalities who flourished (and fell) after the creation of a cable channel devoted to food . . . The result is a rare non-fiction book with the narrative pace of the juiciest fiction.”—Connecticut Post

“Salkin’s recipe is one part steamy exposé, one part deep-fried human interest and one part television history. This fusion cuisine should satiate food fans while providing television buffs an unprecedented look at the evolution of a network.”—Kirkus Reviews

From Scratch is a saucy tell-all, by turns shocking, funny and informative. Fans of the network or those who just love seeing how the show-biz sausage is made, this one's for you.”—BookPage

“A new tell-all history of the Food Network that details the egos, and feuds of the people that made a fledgling upstart a cable TV empire.”—The Daily Beast

“The definitive account of the 20-year-old network and its stars.”—New York Daily News
 
“With a light wit and balanced perspective, Salkin presents the definitive history of the network from inception to the present day.  Food Network devotees will delight at the inside knowledge of internal scandals, the intriguing biographies of their favorite star chefs, and an exclusive look at the ever-shifting lineup of executives and parent companies . . . Salkin moves deftly between periods in the channel’s development, garnishing the narrative with frequent quotes from influential personalities to add depth.  [A] nuanced and rich tale of an empire that no one expected to survive.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399159320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159329
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Allen's credits include: New York Times reporter, TV reality show love interest, rubber ducky salesman, podcast host, marathon runner and restaurant prep cook. Besides writing for many outlets-- New York Magazine, The Observer, Details, Edible, New York Post... hell, even Cosmopolitan -- he has cast industrial films in Hong Kong, picked oranges in Crete, and peddled oil paintings door-to-door in Western Australia. Allen has a hobby of attending Summer Olympics: 7 so far plus two winters and a World Cup.

He attended U.C. Berkeley (Go Bears! -- graduation dinner Chez Panisse downstairs), Calabasas High (pre-Kardashians), and N.Y.U.'s Journalism Masters Program. He has since taught at N.Y.U.

"From Scratch" is Allen's second book. He wrote "Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us", a bit of a lighter affair, a few years ago. You can still check that out at festivusbook.com.

Some of Allen's favorite topics he's written on include: Monocles (They're Back), Annie Leibovitz's finances, and the last waterbed salesman in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Contact Allen by emailing: salkin -- at -- allensalkin.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Joel Graber on October 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting and well-written corporate history of the Food Network, not about food per se, nor about America's fairly recent enthusiasm for all things culinary, but about TV/money. Salkin might as well have explored, let's say, the history of CNN. There's no indication that the changing cast of characters running FN since the 90s have ever cared much about what they ate or where. They've cared about making TV. The network obviously depends on personalities, and the leading lights are present in this book, but gossip or sensationalism isn't the author's objective. There are plenty of other sources for that sort of material. For someone who watches food TV regularly, and interested in both sides of the camera, a rewarding survey from 1993 to now.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Irena Chalmers on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I attended the press party at The Rainbow Room for the launch of the Food Network. It took less than half a minute to realize there would be no place for me (or any of my friends) on this new venture. I thought I pretty much knew what had happened to it. I now know I knew nothing. I was totally engrossed in this rigorously researched, brilliantly written book.It is fascinating to learn about winners -- giddy with glimpses of future fame and fortune -- and losers, who vanish like grieving Cheshire cats. This is as fine a portrait as I've ever read about corporate culture that is both awesome and appalling. I most enthusiastically recommend this extraordinarily erudite work.
Irena Chalmers
Author Food Jobs 2
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rita J. Iwanski on September 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the book but I have to tell readers that I've been watching Food Network from the very beginning so I knew lots of the names and old programs, etc. It might be a little confusing for the newer Food Network viewer. I did find it very interesting and somewhat vindicating because I did see the big change in programming over the years and felt cheated when they focused less on cooking and more on food related shows like travel and now - the dreaded CONTEST shows. You learn that the bottom line of everything in corporations is money. But all that aside, it was a very nice stroll down Food Network memory lane and if FN wants to make more money they should start showing some of the old programs they cancelled where you actually learned something.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Cutter on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you ever wanted the inside scoop, biased though it may at sometimes be (a lot of the writing assumes a bit more direct knowledge than is given in evidence), this is the book for you.

Deep background on the personalities, drive and process of birthing Food Network. Written very readably and with tons of background, it is well worth the read!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Karen Feuer on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an amazing book! I used to love the Food Network but now barely recognize it. This book took me behind the scenes and showed me a world I never imagined. Now I see how it all happened.

Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Jenkins on June 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to reading this book as I enjoy much of the Food Network's programming. However, the juicy stories about the "stars" are ones we all read about or saw happen on the news, so there's not a lot of nibbles of little known facts to gobble up. The book spends way too much time tracing the history and skimps on the last few years when the Food Network became more of a programming force. For example, Guy is the only FOOD NETWORK STAR winner who gets written about. The book could have attempted to trace the trappings of those who also won but failed and what happened to them--were the producers wrong or did the contest winners end up not being marketing savvy enough? And how are some of those shows filmed? How long does it take to film CHOPPED? How do they keep the food warm for tasting on IRON CHEF? Why does Ina seem to have more of an affinity for gay men? All interesting things that could have added some flavor and spice to this book. The last couple of chapters are the most interesting, so if you don't care how the network was born, most of the book will bore you until folks like Bobby Flay and Sandra Lee appear in the text. Hopefully someone will write a better book that dishes what we all want to know about these fascinating people. This book just leaves you wanting more...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. Rochester on June 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Allen Salkin missed the opportunity of writing an interesting book.
The subject was appealing, but the treatment of the subject matter was boring.
He spent 1/2 the book telling the reader about network business and executive network changes.
A few paragraphs listing the x executives and a few paragraphs telling us
how unstable the staff had been would have been enough. There was a wealth of material untouched.
The stars of this network ARE the story. The behind the scenes story of making an episode,
the personalities, the likes gripes and background of these chefs should have been told.
The story of their lives today would have been interesting. All of this was touched in the book
but there was not enough. I felt cheated. Salkin writes well and he had done his research, but
it did not hold my interest. The food network is like many of the cable channels. The subject is narrow
and people with that particular interest will watch. However, the programs are planned for entertainment
value, hoping to draw a larger audience. I see this same practice with CNBC. Therefore, the target audience is
bored and there are other channels to go to for entertainment. All of this said, there were parts of this book that I enjoyed..
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