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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399159320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159329
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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

I found this book to be terribly boring.
booksandbutter
As a Food Network fan, I was fascinated by all the behind the scenes information.
Steven B. Howard
Would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the culinary world.
Georgia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 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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28 of 33 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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7 of 7 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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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Volpsych on November 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Salkin noted that when writing the acknowledgements for this book, it was difficult to not use cooking terminology; I feel the same way in writing a review.

When reading about a network (e,g, "These Guys Have All the Fun") or a show (e.g., "Live from New York"), I expect a foundation that describes the origins and some of the non-glamorous aspects of the business; it's the lettuce of the chef's salad, a necessary aspect to give the meal heft but not what one looks forward to. As a reader, I most want to read about the shows themselves, such as how they were created, why they were like to film, and recaps of on-air incidents; this is what gives the book meat and zest. Sadly, this book has lots of lettuce and not nearly enough bacon, cheese, ham, eggs, etc. (okay, maybe I'll lose the metaphor). Salkin not only begins his story with the origins of Food Network, but continues exploring network machinations, stocks and sales, boardroom goings-on, etc. throughout the entire book. He does this at the expense of describing the shows, the personalities, sharing interesting stories, or describing what happened on the shows. For example, he notes that Iron Chef American contestants are given three possibilities for the secret ingredient days before the show, but what are the actual tapings like? Chopped takes place over the course of an hour, but how long does the actual day last and what's it like for the cheftestants and judges to go through that process? What's the worst dish made on any of these shows? Which "Next Food Network Star" was a bust and why? (Most of them aren't even named).
Read more ›
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7 of 8 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cecilia C. on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this up after reading a recommendation from NPR in their "Best Books of 2013" piece. Gives much insight as to how being in the right place at the right time can boost a business and make a brand; it's also a lesson in perseverance. If you want to skim over the business insight, it gives great 'scoop' on the network personalities. There is something for everyone!
I did not give it 5 stars, because I did find one inaccurate fact - which made me question how many inconsistencies there really are in the book. Otherwise, it is very entertaining!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By weekend crafter on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for inside information about the celebrity chefs, you won't find it here. This book is more about the founding of Food Network. The players who got the tv station going. It's more corporate drama than celebrity drama. Very well written and it kept my interest. It definitely wasn't a dry read.

There are little stories about Rachel, Bobby, Mario, Emeril and all the other stars but it isn't in depth. Most of the chefs have provided interviews with the author with the notable exception of Sandra Lee (who it turns out can't really cook). The last chapter was devoted to the beginnings of the Paula Deen scandal this past summer.

This is a good beach read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff P. on July 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I cannot fault the book for its focus on details that are fairly uninteresting to me -- early cable network distribution issues, corporate hirings and firings, management personnel, etc. The author may have different interests than mine. I was hoping to learn about the on-screen personalities and their backstories, stories of both the best episodes and the worst episodes of some of my favorite shows, some opportunities to laugh and cry with some of the stars, and to learn about how the network has evolved over the years. This just wasn't the book for that.

What I can fault the book for is a style of writing that is more appropriate for short newspaper reports or brief blog post than full-length book. Subject matter from paragraph to paragraph changes unexpectedly. Narratives are rarely complete stories. There is no cohesiveness within chapters nor any real sense of why there are chapter breaks at all. It reads more like a journalist's notes simply strung together rather than a book with an overall purpose, movement, and storytelling. Rather than develop themes, a plot, or characters, the writer puts into print scattered details in a somewhat chronological order without regard for creating a narrative flow. It leaves the reader bored, confused by unrelated details, and ultimately turning to write reviews in amazon that are not very flattering.

I hoped for so much more.
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