From Scratch: Inside the Food Network

Food, Non-Fiction

“Big Personalities, High Drama — the Extraordinary Behind-the-Scenes Story”


America has come a long way from the handful of “dump and stir” cooking shows of the 1970s and 80s to the vast and vibrant television food scene of today, when most of the population seems to be on a first-name basis with the likes of Bobby (Flay), Ina (Garten, the Barefoot Contessa) and Mario (Batali). Situated at the sweet spot where business, media, and food meet, From Scratch is author Allen Salkin’s highly entertaining, eye-opening look at a major pop culture phenomenon.


In October 1993, a tiny start-up called the Food Network debuted to little notice. Twenty years later, it is in 100 million homes, approaches a billion dollars a year in revenue, and features a galaxy of stars whose faces and names are as familiar to us as our own family’s.


But what we don’t know about them, and the people behind them, could fill a book.


Based upon extensive inside access, documents, and interviews with hundreds of executives, stars, and employees all up and down the ladder, Allen Salkin’s book is an exhilarating roller-coaster ride from chaos to conquest (and sometimes back). As Salkin takes us inside the conference rooms, studios, homes, restaurants, and after-hours meetings, we see a salty Julia Child lording it over the early network performers; a fragile Emeril Lagasse staggering from the sudden public shock of cancellation; a very green Rachael Ray nearly burning down the set on her first day; a torn Tyler Florence accepting the Applebee’s job he knows he can’t refuse, but with a chill running down his spine; a determined Bobby Flay reinventing himself once again to survive.


Paula Deen, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart, Guy Fieri, Cat Cora: Salkin illuminates the people we thought we knew, and the ones we never knew about, in this irresistible story of the intersection between business, television, pop culture, food—and us.