Food Network book dishes on Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray and other TV chefs
A new book about the making of the Food Network is giving foodie fans lots to chew on. From Scratch, by Allen Salkin is a behind-the-scenes story of the making of the media and cultural juggernaut that is the Food Network. Our colleague Lennie Bennett did a review of the tell-all before Salkin's November appearance in St. Petersburg for the Enjoy Arts & Tastes festival. You can read her review here, but we know what you really want is the dish on the hosts, right? Who's a diva and who has some juicy gossip?
Never fear, dear readers, we have boiled it down for you like a highly flavored consomme:
Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray come off as hard-working, non-diva team players. Salkin writes that Ray is so good, "The crew is almost asleep when she’s on camera because they know nothing is going to go wrong.” Flay gets a lot of admiration in the book: "Smart, street kid at heart, who knows how to suss out a situation and execute a plan: He seems to be without self-doubt."
Guy Fieri, who rolls with a hulking posse of bodyguards, doesn't come off as well. "He’s a guy with an entourage. They do what entourages do. They walk him into the VIP section. They get him a drink.”
Neither does Martha Stewart, who was so openly disdainful when she showed up to sign papers to allow the Food Network to repackage her old shows, according to Salkin, that the then-president Eric Ober said, “I want one more thing added to this contract, that I never have to speak to that woman again.”
Paula Deen was already on thin ice with dwindling ratings and having admitted she had diabetes at the same time it was revealed she was a diabetes-medicine spokesperson. Then the N-word controversy came out and her goose was cooked.
Emeril Lagasse has one of the more interesting stories. He was the king of the network. He practically built the place. (His signature "Bam!" was created to wake up a sleepy cameraman) But as the food scene was changing, he resisted attempts to remake his image or make appearances on Iron Chef. He wasn't a fan of putting Rachael Ray on the air since he believed she wasn’t a real chef. (Rachael famously agrees, saying she's just a cook)
Lagasse didn’t think the network would ever end his shows so he was blindsided when it happened. "He stared at her, his eyes flaring," Salkin writes of Lagasse's abrupt cancellation. "He had built this network, had giving it fifteen years of his life. All the hosts who came after him had sought out his advice. He'd seen their hunger, increasingly desperate in recent years as the stakes for success had risen. He was not going to kowtow."