I looked forward to reading this book as I love the Food Network. Anticipating humorous stories and light reading, I opened this book with enthusiasm. However, what I found was a bit dry with only occasional quick peaks at the television personalities. I was teased by the idea of Rachel Ray almost burning down a set on her first day and was dismayed to find a quick couple of sentences that matter of factly stated what happened but none of the reactions that would call forth emotional pulls. This book instead takes you step by step on how the Food Network started, was developed and how it formed. It begins prior to the concept of the Food Network with the cable law changes that allowed this and similar shows to develop. It goes into detail on the wheeling and dealing that went on to get it on the cable show lineup. Much of the book is focused on the behind the scenes people. While this book is full of information, I found myself skipping sections that went on about buying shares and trades. However, I did enjoy the brief glimpses I had into some of my favorite chefs. I only wish there were more of those and less of the business stuff.
Big personalities, high drama?the extraordinary behind-the-scenes story of the Food Network, now about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary: the business, media, and cultural juggernaut that changed the way America thinks about food.
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.