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

3.5 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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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 (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a very well researched corporate history of the Food Network. Why only 2 Stars? Because the book was not what I wanted or expected based upon the front / back cover quotes: " 20 years of dish ...uncensored history...gossip...juicy stories... one part steamy exposé". It turned out to be a pretty dry story of the business. I would have liked to know more on the dumbing down of the network. Once you had Alton Brown's Good Eats and now you have Guy Fieri promoting Guy Fieri..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, but considering all of the work, research, interviews with hundreds of FN people, I was expecting a lot more. The whole thing comes off as disjointed, with no real objective as to what Salkin really wanted to accomplish with the book. One of the other reviewers said that it looked like he just got all of his notes together and started writing. I agree with that.

There were a lot of good stories about the personalities but not nearly enough. There were so many people in the book that 1) I could have done without a brief intro on almost every FN personality and would have preferred more information about them, their shows, their lives, and 2) so many characters were introduced with a full name, and then from then on, it was Mike, or Ellen, or Dave, or Susan. So at times I really had no clue which Dave or Sue or Mike he was talking about.

The biggest fault of the book is that as a long-time FN viewer, I already know these shows. I wanted to find out how they really worked, how they were filmed, what the stars thought about particular shows, how they were put together, etc... As an example, I already knew that Chopped takes 12-15 hours to film, but I didn't even find this out in the book... I knew it from some article I read on it. There was no info on what went on in the show, how the contestants treated each other, how the judges would deliberately try to incite the contestants to fight with each other, how they got them to talk about personal things in their lives or sexual relationships on their intros, how the judges would decide behind the scenes who was getting chopped, etc. And while I enjoyed some of the behind the scenes working of FN, I could have used much less description of the revolving door of executives and managers.
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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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