Allen Salkin’s Delicious Food Network Journey

Allen Salkin talks about From Scratch: Inside The Food Network:

Perhaps some will see Allen Salkin’s story of the Food Network as containing “dirt” on some of it’s celebrities. But after not being able to put the book down, stoking a bit of jealousy in my Johnny Carson book, I have more respect and empathy for everyone on the network. Even those whose shows I never watched – no offense, Sandra Lee and Guy Fieri.

I didn’t see the 20th anniversary special Food Network aired two weeks ago – the actual 20th birthday is today, November 23. My guess is that the TV show did not contain footage of a test show that went out just before the official launch date in which Robin Leach stuffed a turkey. With his fist. In a manner that would have paired nicely with some Barry White music and would have gotten him fired in approximately three seconds had it occurred after the ultra mild-mannered Scripps Howard took over the Network. (By ultra mild-mannered, I mean what Ferris Bueller said about his friend Cameron; what would happen if a lump of coal were stuck where the sun don’t shine.)

Allen also helps us relive one of the best shows Food Network ever aired: the Japanese version of Iron Chef. In particular, he writes about the episode that caused the media world to say, “there’s a Food Network?”  The battle in New York between Iron Chef Morimoto and Bobby Flay.  (I wanted to post a link to a YouTube video showing the end of the battle, but the person posting decided to refer to Chef Flay as a bag, along with the French term for taking a shower.  It means something a smidge different in English.)

When I first saw Bobby Flay on one of his earliest shows, Grillin & Chillin, I agreed with the term used by the aforementioned YouTuber.  I wanted to punch him through the TV screen unless a snockered Jack McDavid did so first.  Then, at the Iron Chef battle, he pulled the perfect heel pro wrestler move at the end – the international “standing on the cutting board” incident.  There is nothing better in the world than an excellent heel pro wrestler, and just like the Grinch, my heart for Chef Flay grew three sizes that day.

Even if you don’t approve of everything written about some of your Food Network favorites, Allen’s book should not, and I think will not, change your opinion of them.  With the notable exception of Juan Carlos Cruz, their “humanness” makes them more likeable. Even Sandra Lee and Guy Fieri :). Okay, Sandra and Guy running gag is over.

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