As a long time Food Network fan, I couldn’t resist picking up this book. Unfortunately, the first two hundred pages had me putting it down repeatedly. It was just the facts, all the facts in all their statistical glory but I wanted more. I finally got more in the second half of the book.
To be fair, the book wouldn’t have worked if Salkin hadn’t included all the money and machinations that went into creating the Food Network. The parade of presidents, the turnover of corporate suits, and the complete lack of interest in food beyond what sort of profits it could bring in was the story of the first several years of the company. Eventually, the Scripps network came on board, coughed up some real money and things started to change. And so did the book.
The second half was way more interesting and entertaining. Here is where we learned how Bobby Flay, streetwise and smart, worked his way into the corporate culture and why Mario Batali finally left. The Paula Deen story, including the mess she made in 2013, was included, and I would guess the paperback release will include her inevitable comeback. Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Robert Irvine, Anne Burrell and the rest have their moments in the sun.
Salkin is a freelance food journalist who has written for the New York Times among other publications, and he didn’t set out to write a sensationalistic type book, but rather a corporate overview of one of cable’s behemoths. He succeeded, and ultimately, I was glad I stayed with it.
2/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
FROM SCRATCH: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin. Putnam Adult (October 1, 2013). ISBN 978-0399159329. 448p.