July 19, 2018

Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse were some of the all-star chefs the Food Network brought in to help fix the flailing channel early on (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

If you knew what was going on behind the scenes at the Food Network during the ‘90s, you might have placed a hefty wager that it would fail. Chefs were cooking in incomplete kitchens, and couldn't stop filming —  even if they got hurt. It was a mess. Even Sara Moulton, one of the Food Network’s earliest stars, didn’t think the channel would survive. 

But not only did it survive —  it thrived. We talk to Moulton about her early days at the Food Network, and with author Allen Salkin about his book, “From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network

Three Takeaways: 

  • Reese Schonfeld, the creator of CNN, was the man responsible for the Food Network. Salkin says Schonfeld had his kitchen removed from his New York home. “That’s how little he cared about food.”
  • When did the Food Network know it hit it big? Ironically enough, Moulton says it was after 9/11. When the channel went off the air after the terrorist attacks, hoards of people demanded they come back on. 
  • The secret ingredient that made the Food Network a smash hit was reality TV. After Chef Bobby Flay challenged Japanese chefs in the original Iron Chef, the Food Network hopped on the competition show bandwagon. The move saved the channel.   

More Reading: 

Web Extra: 

Sara Moulton talks about the gender inequality she faced at the Food Network - something that became obvious to her every time she went on vacation:

Allen Salkin, Sara Moulton, Culture, The Food Network

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