Food Network is a cable network whose main topic is food, food and more food
— where to find it, how to prepare it, as well the people who do all the work behind the scenes. Founded in 1993 by the Providence Journal Company as the "TV Food Network" (this name was dropped in 1996 for the present one), FN was bought by the E.W. Scripps Company as a result of a trade with the A.H. Belo Corporation, who bought the Providence Journal Co. in 1997 (the trade was for the CBS station in San Antonio), and is co-owned with a few other channels: Home and Garden Television (or HGTV, which focuses on home improvement and construction, and was launched in 1994, three years before Scripps bought FN), DIY Network (a channel for do-it-yourselfers, launched in 1999), Cooking Channel
(launched in 2002 as a general lifestyle channel called "Fine Living", it adopted its current name in May 2010), Great American Country (a country music channel inexplicably purchased by Scripps in 2004) and the Travel Channel (65% of which was bought from Cox Communications in 2009). FN and its siblings were spun off into "Scripps Networks Interactive" in 2008.
FN rose to fame in the late 1990s, after picking up Emeril Lagasse's show Essence Of Emeril
and its hit follow-on Emeril Live
; he was the face of the network for many years until Rachael Ray
and 30-Minute Meals
came along. Also the network that was willing to take a chance on a certain offbeat cooking-science show
back in 1999, as well as introducing most of the USA to Iron Chef
, a show whose exposure had been limited mainly to the Bay Area before then.
Has been accused of some level of Network Decay
, with the biggest complaint being that the how-to shows aren't as technically rigorous as they used to be (Semi-Homemade
is usually held up as the worst example of this) and that the channel has been focusing too much on documentaries and reality shows
(albeit, a bit of a natural progression from the popularity of Iron Chef
). Despite all that, even the most ill-advised shows have been at least tangentially about food, thus sticking to the basic premise in some way.
Food Network shows and personalities with their own pages:
This network provides examples of:
- Adored by the Network: Many examples. Given that cooking/travel/reality shows can be produced relatively quickly, its easy for the network to air their shows noon and night until the audience finally gets used to, or sick of them.
- Episodes of 30 Minute Meals and 40 Dollars A Day were on constant repeat shortly before Rachael Ray got her own talk show.
- Once the network discovered Guy Fieri may have a chance among the much-coveted young male Demographic, they began to run his shows constantly. If you tune in to Food Network at any given time these days, chances are that they're showing Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, or are about to start showing it within an hour. His newer shows Guy's Grocery Games (a sort of hybrid of Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen set in a supermarket) and Guy's Big Bite get a lot of rotation as well.
- Emeril Legasse had Wolverine Publicity for a while, and made a big deal over how much butter and fat he used long before Paula Deen came on the scene. He has since been Demoted to Extra.
- As of 2011-12, Food Network has basically become the "Iron Chef and Anything Like It" Channel, featuring hours upon hours of Iron Chef, Chopped, and similar shows clogging up the schedule.
- And increasingly a number of Restaurant: Impossible clones including Restaurant: Impossible itself.
- As of summer 2014, Tuesday evening is devoted to Chopped, Wednesday night to Restaurant: Impossible and its clone Restaurant Stakeout, and Friday evening to Diners Driveins And Dives.
- Ascended Extra:
- Anne Burrell started as Mario Batali's sous chef on Iron Chef America . Now she has two shows herself.
- Several stars on the network started out as competitors on Iron Chef America, including almost all of the Chopped judges. Alex Guarnaschelli is another standout, having been an ICA competitor and having her own show, but she broke out on Chopped and now serves as an Iron Chef herself.
- Some stars have been part of profiles on other people's shows. The Neeleys on the Deen brothers' show, and Paula Deen on Gordon Elliott's are two examples.
- Author's Saving Throw: Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade has been widely criticized, not only for processed, unhealthy, cost-ineffective ingredients, lavish sets and wardrobe changes (including her signature "table-scapes"), and her boozy cocktails. Sandra's Money Saving Meals features recipes made to feed a family of four on a budget, while Sandra's wardrobe has been stripped down and the set is almost entirely white. The boozy cocktails remain. Having cooked for her impoverished family as a kid, on food stamps to boot, she probably didn't like the idea of someone calling her wasteful. Apparently Even Sandra Lee Has Standards.
- Bald of Awesome:
- Chris Santos
- Duff Goldman
- Michael Psilakis
- Michael Symon
- But I Play One on TV: A higher number of the "chefs" who host shows on this network than you would suspect are actually not chefs at all, but are merely "enthusiastic amateurs" who love to cook.
- The Casanova: Tyler Florence, especially on Food 911, although many of the housewives he helped out had a definite Dirty Old Woman vibe about them.
- Catch Phrase:
- Emeril Lagasse ("BAM!") and Rachael Ray ("E.V.O.O."), to the point of inducing nausea in audience members. Alton Brown has been known to gently mock both of them for it.
- Ina Garten is known to repeat the phrases "How bad could that be?" and "How easy is that?" She also loves to use the adjective "good" whenever she possibly can, often gently reminding viewers to use "good" ingredients, and very often when episodes end with a dinner party or a picnic she'll ask "Good food and good friends, how can it get any better than that?"
- Alton Brown has catchphrases of his own, including "golden brown and delicious", "just walk away", "oh bother", and "but that's another show".
- Guy Fieri has "that's money", "off the hook!", and "bananas!" as well as "that's on point". He almost lives entirely on catch phrases.
- Cooking Duel: Increasingly a part of the line-up. Showing re-runs of Iron Chef brought the trope to high visibility in the west.
- Cooking Show: The focus of the network; most of them are relegated to the "Food Network In The Kitchen" daytime block.
- Cool Old Guy:
- Wolfgang Puck was this for some people.
- One might also mention Rokusaburo Michiba from the original Iron Chef.
- Cool Old Lady:
- Paula Deen may be considered this for some people, especially on her Paula's Party show.
- Ina Garten probably counts too.
- The real holders of the title were the Two Fat Ladies (RIP Jennifer).
- Cordon Bleugh Chef:
- Sandra Lee.
- Paula Deen, whose recipes seem to consist of breaded sticks of butter coated in butter and deep fried in butter with butter on the side also counts. People were sadly not surprised when she revealed she has type II diabetes.
- Definitely averted with Eat, Shrink And Be Merry.
- Cultural Translation: The original Iron Chef gained enough success to earn the aptly-named spin-off Iron Chef America. The reruns of the original version on Fine Living were given the retronym Iron Chef Japan; Cooking Channel, to which the reruns were carried over from Fine Living, has also picked up the name.
- Creator Existence Failure: Jennifer of the Two Fat Ladies.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Robert Irvine, mainly in Restaurant: Impossible where he often ends up delivering "The Reason You Suck" Speech to various people with failing restaurants. The fact that he used to be in the British Navy, and in fact got his start as a chef there, certainly helps.
- Facepalm: On Worst Cooks in America this is basically Bobby Flay's default expression. And considering the shenanigans he's witness to who can blame him?
- Fag Hag: Ina Garten. Her parties are attended almost entirely by her gay friends.
- Fanservice with a Smile: Giada De Laurentiis is known for this.
- Fiery Redhead: Bobby Flay.
- Fighting Irish: Again, Bobby Flay. Besides having a rather feisty and spirited personality, he also says that when he was a teenager he frequently got into fights and hung out with a group of other tough guys before getting involved in the food industry and turning his life around.
- Food Porn:
- Disturbingly close to literal porn with some of Giada's and Rachel's quasi-orgasmic tasting shots.
- Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, with some of the most surreal junkfood you'll ever see.
- The Best Thing I Ever Ate, which features Food Network personalities and colleagues rhapsodizing about Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Emeril Live took this up a notch this for 60 minute food "live sex show", featuring "ohh"s and "ah"s from the audience. Egregiously so when he added a great deal of butter or garlic and the camera cut to a closeup of someone reacting in the audience..
- Alex Guarnaschelli takes it to an even more disturbing level. Virtually every sentence she speaks describing food is practically dripping with a sensuous tone of voice, and such admiring physical descriptions of the food that she makes it sound like it's a person that she wants to date, rather than a piece of food. Her orgasmic facial expressions when describing the food just make it worse.
- Then there's the Neelys, who somehow always find a way to slip in sexual innuendos during every show, as they endlessly flirt with each other. They pretty much embody the Sickening Sweethearts trope.
- Alton tends to pick on his Food Network siblings over this. During the crossover Thanksgiving special he said mocked Giada's garnish by saying "You're one of those people who eats with their eyes, aren't you?"
- Genki Girl:
- Rachael Ray and Paula Deen are by far the worst for this, but Giada De Laurentiis puts in some genki moments on a fairly regular basis as well.
- Sunny Anderson, of Cooking for Real, is this as well.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: An episode of World's Weirdest Restaurants had a segment that took place at a restaurant with drag queens, and in the background you could see an ejaculating penis made from balloons.
- Gratuitous French: Ina Garten of "Barefoot Contessa" is probably the most notorious offender for this, as even the Francophilic Melissa D'Arabian doesn't name-drop French terms nearly as often as Ina. Ina seems determined to use French to describe anything she can. It gets especially ridiculous (and somewhat amusing) when she repeatedly uses Crème anglaise, prompting many to wonder: if it's English cream, then why not just ''say'' English cream...in English? (The response: Because that's its name. The French named sweet custard used as a dessert sauce "English cream" in (grudging) recognition of the fact that the English like to put thin, sweet, creamy custard on their desserts and are actually pretty good making it—but the specific technique used in France is not exactly the same as the traditional English one)
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Sandra Lee. Towards the end of each episode of her shows, her eyes practically light up when she excitedly announces that "It's cocktail time!!!" In one Christmas episode, she actually decorated a Christmas tree by hanging cocktail glasses and wine glasses all over it. She then declared that "of all the trees I've ever decorated, this is my favorite!"
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Marc Summers, host of Unwrapped but better known as the former host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare. He also counts for this behind the scenes: many, if not the majority of non-competition/reality shows on Food Network (including Unwrapped) come courtesy of his own production company based in Denver, CO (also explaining why many profiled restaurants and Food Network events, such as Food Network Challenge, are hosted there)
- You may also remember Ted Allen from Queer Eye
- Brian Boitano, as, well, Brian Boitano, although in this case it's more of "Hey, it's Brian Boitano! What the hell is he doing on Food Network?"
- Joey Fatone, host of Rewrapped (which, coincidentially enough, Marc Summers is head judge on), from *NSYNC.
- Jerkass: Alex Guarnaschelli on Chopped. She hates men, hates other women even more, and seems to be an extremely unpleasant person to be aroundnote
- Most of the female judges on Chopped seem to be more critical and less personable than their male counterparts; Guarnaschelli is just the most egregious of them.
- Kerry Vincent, master cake decorator, became infamous on Food Network Challenge for exactly the same reasons, and to the point where FNC in turn became most notable and infamous for her judging. Sometimes her criticisms are perfectly valid, other times she criticises teams for things like time management, noting that they didn't organize themselves well even if they got their piece finished on time.
- Guarnaschelli seems to be defrosting a bit in recent years. She seems much more likely now to show emotion/sympathy on Chopped than she did before, and she seems to have something of a soft spot for some of her fellow judges, such as Amanda Freitag.
- Jobber: Bobby Flay is frequently this on Throwdown, owing to him being a more-or-less generalist restaurant chef being pitted against people who tend to be experts in their specialties. After eight seasons, Flay's record stood at 33 wins, 68 losses, and 1 draw. While Flay certainly cooks to win, he isn't broken up if he loses, since according to him the whole point of Throwdown is to get awesome local chefs some attention.
- Beat Bobby Flay is the Spiritual Successor to Throwdown: two Food Network / Cooking Channel personalities each bring in a chef they think can beat Bobby Flay. Round One has the two chefs compete against each other by cooking a round-winning dish showcasing an ingredient of Bobby's choice. The two personalities then judge whose dish was better, and the winner takes on Bobby in Round Two, where they must cook a version of the winning chef's "signature dish."
- Also, Chen Kenichi on the original Iron Chef came off like this with remarkable frequencynote
- Keet: Guy Fieri's persona is a Guido version.
- The Lad-ette:
- Anne Burrell appears to be this.
- Cat Cora definitely is.
- Large Ham: Mario Batali, Mark Dacascos (and Takeshi Kaga before him), Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, Gina Neely, Aaron "Big Daddy" McCargo, the entire cast of Good Eats... It would be easier to make a list of who isn't. Ironically, however, not George Duran (formerly of Ham On The Street).
- Brian Boitano, however, takes it to a rather corny extreme. But what would you expect from a Memetic Badass?
- Lethal Chef: Generally averted. However some professional chefs have taken exception to some hygienic shortcuts taken on some shows (30 Minute Meals and the contest show Chopped may be the worst offenders), and the show Worst Cooks In America follows terrible amateur cooks learning how not to be a Lethal Chef.
- In the first episode, one of the contestants basically mustard-gassed the others by cooking a pepper-heavy chicken in a pan without oil. She eventually made it to the semi-finals.
- Eating Paula Deen's food on a regular basis would lead to arteries clogged with lard and butter coming out of one's pores.
- Sandra Lee. Dear God, Sandra Lee.
- It's not uncommon for the judges on Chopped to refuse to taste a dish for sanitation reasons. In one episode, of three cornish hen-based meals, only one was tasted (one was undercooked, and one was sliced on a contaminated cutting board).
- Lipstick Lesbian: Cat Cora. Technically more of what Ellen DeGeneres has called a "chapstick lesbian" (i.e. no girlier than your average woman), but hey...
- Locked in a Room: The Network loves throwing judge Kerry Vincent and competitor Stevie Famulari together on Food Network Challenge, in spite of (or more likely because of) the fact that the two are oil and water, with one being a hidebound traditionalist and the other a postmodern iconoclast. The network even invited Stevie to compete in the challenge of making Kerry a birthday cake, which ended with Stevie memorably (though accidentally) lighting the cake on fire. Subverted in that despite several extended and often heated conversations, each still has little apparent appreciation for the other's point of view.
- Long Runner: The longest runner on the network is How To Boil Water, which has aired on the network since the day it launched, though it is now relegated to an early-morning slot. Other shows, such as The Essence Of Emeril (debuted in 1994) and Emeril Live (debuted in 1997) are also long runners, though Emeril Live has since hopped over to Fine Living/Cooking Channel, staying on Food Network only for reruns. Good Eats had a 10-year anniversary special, but is now dead as a series except for the occasional hour-long special episode, and its reruns are now on Cooking Channel.
- Ms. Fanservice: Giada De Laurentiis, Aida Mollenkamp, Rachael Ray, and, gender-flipped, Robert Irvine. And, as of her second season, apparently Claire Robinson as well.
- Motor Mouth: Ever heard Rachael's voice?
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy; Guy Fieri describes his look as "kulinary gangsta,". The loud clothing and the sunglasses seem to indicate something closer to "skater", or perhaps "midlife crisis."
- Product Placement: If you watch enough Food Network, you'll notice that certain products get pushed a lot. Worst Cooks In America, for instance, seems to be funded entirely by the Pork Council and the Broccoli Rabe Commission.
- Purple Prose: The Best Thing I Ever Ate basically encourages all the FN stars to go on and use Purple Prose to describe various dishes. Alex Guarnaschelli is by far the most egregious though, both there and on her own show as well.
- Role Ending Misdemeanor: The network chose not to renew Paula Deen's contract after a racist incident involving her in 2013.
- Though at least one article suggested that the incident just gave them an excuse, and the real reason she was dropped cause because she wasn't getting the 18-49 demographic advertisers love.
- Romance on the Set: Robert Irvine met his future wife, pro wrestler Gail Kim, during a WWE SummerSlam-themed edition of Restaurant: Impossible.
- Sassy Black Woman: Gina Neely. Stereotypes? You're soaking in it.
- Science Show: Good Eats, Food Detectives, and Ask Aida.
- Screwed by the Network: Sara Moulton was a highly qualified, well-versed chef who cut her teeth working with Julia Child and quick enough to host a live call in cooking show when the network was just getting started. Later she was axed and had to leave for PBS when the network decided against more technically-based shows in favor of marketable personalities and reality programing.
- Ship Tease/Foe Yay:
- Alton and W on Good Eats. Despite the former being, y'know, married.
- Also Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine on Worst Cooks In America, despite the former being a lesbian and the latter being married.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: The Neelys.
- Silver Fox: Geoffrey Zakarian.
- Spin-Off: Cooking Channel, which replaced Fine Living, can be considered one. It also shows some programs that used to be on FN (such as Two Fat Ladies and Good Eats).
- Straight Gay: Ted Allen, Cat Cora, Anne Burrell.
- Southern Belle:
- Paula Deen, y'all!
- Cat Cora's pretty Southern, too.
- Gina Neely.
- Three Cameras: Used for the shows shot live to tape in studio, but surprisingly frequently averted, especially with shows like Good Eats and the travel shows.
- Totally Radical: Guy Fieri. He really tries too hard to be "hip."
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- Paula Deen and butter. A couple other chefs are noted for their favorites in terms of both using it and eating it, but Deen's love of butter has reached Memetic Mutation levels. One of Paula's shows focused on fried butter. Straight up FRIED BUTTER. A home viewer was even invited to share a recipe, who also had a variation on the recipe for weight-conscious viewers (it was still fried and it was still butter).
- Sandra Lee loves to use alcohol in her recipes.
- The Neelys have an amazing love for hot sauce in their recipes.
- Alton Brown carries a nutmeg seed in his pocket at all times. He also has a strong fondness for both kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper (to the point that he has used the latter in a dessert).
- Giada looooves mascarpone cheese, and finds a way to incorporate it in probably half of her recipes.
- Bobby Flay and chorizo, to where he would lose a throwdown if it means he can stick chorizo in something not normally associated with it.
- Transparent Closet: Brian Boitano during his series, so very very much. In fact it was more like he was just carrying a sign around saying "Would you believe they want me to be in the closet? No, I can't either." (The closet was later opened by—of all things—Boitano's appointment to the American delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games; the Obama Administration—which had decided to appoint an all-gay delegation to stand in the President's place basically to snub Vladimir Putin—apparently hadn't realized that Boitano wasn't "officially" out of the closet, but he didn't make a fuss about it.)
- Travelogue Show: Several food-related ones have aired; among them are Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
- Two Decades Behind: Many people have remarked that Guy Fieri's colloqualisms and hairstyle can be explained only by assuming he fell into a coma sometime around 1995 and only recently woke up.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: In Sandra Lee's 2011 Halloween special, one segment features Sandra Lee dressed as a ghost, claiming to be the spirit of a Viennese ex-pirate who died in 1430 and was 560 years old. Assuming the episode was set in 2011, she's been dead for 581 years.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?:
- Sunny Anderson — born and raised Army brat, US Air Force veteran, military Armed Forces Network Station DJ and later hip-hop radio DJ, TV chef — she's had a lot going on over the years.
- As mentioned above, Ina Garten also. Ina's careers have included a job as a nuclear budget analyst at the White House, owning a catering business, and her current career as a Food Network host and cookbook author.
- The Wonka: Ted Allen on Food Detectives practically channels Wonka himself, casual sadism and all... Maybe a tad bit too well.