Weird Things You Didn’t Know About The Food Network
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The Food Network has been on the air for more
than two decades, churning out drool-worthy dishes for the home-cooking masses and launching
the careers of dozens of celebrity chefs in the process. Behind all the recipes and star-studded kitchens,
you might be surprised to learn some strange facts about everyone’s favorite food channel. Your beloved cooking shows might not be exactly
what they seem, and what goes on behind the scenes might not be what you’d expect. “Don’t worry about it.” In 1997, hosts on Two Hot Tamales walked viewers through a traditional Latin recipe when things
suddenly got a little too hot. Inexplicably, the feed switched to several
seconds of an adult film before the screen went blank, and although an engineer attempted
to switch to to a backup feed, that tape also contained salacious material. The X-rated footage aired for a solid minute
before returning to the regularly scheduled programming. The hosts released a statement saying:
“We were stunned and dismayed. We have a broad viewing audience that we really
care about and we hate to think of the shock or embarrassment this may have caused any
of our viewers.” It was never discovered who switched the feed. When you’re in the comfort of your own kitchen you might sneak a taste of sauce and reuse
the spoon or stick your finger into the frosting. But when you’re on television, that’s not
a good look, and a study by Texas Tech University proved just how unsanitary your favorite Food
Network personalities can be. The study looked at 17 food safety and handling
habits in an analysis of 49 episodes of five different shows. They identified only 118 positive food safety
measures, compared to an overwhelming 460 poor food handling incidents. Paula Deen’s show, Paula’s Home Cooking, won
the award for the most negative behaviors, thanks in large part due to one bad habit. The southern chef licked her fingers more
than 20 times during the analysis. Not exactly a squeaky clean performance. “It’s just tongue titillating.” Think the celeb chefs featured on your favorite cooking shows are doing all the work themselves? Think again. Rob Bleifer, the executive chef of the Food
Network Kitchen revealed: “People don’t realize how many hands are involved
even before [the on-air chefs] touch the food.” It’s in the five kitchens at the Food Network
studios where all the ingredients are prepped, partially completed dishes are made to swap
out during segments, and every detail of every show is organized. But it isn’t like the on-screen chefs aren’t
working hard. Of cooking on TV, executive culinary producer
Jill Novatt said: “You need to really actually cook, while listening
to the culinary producer whispering in your ear telling you to smile and to move your
hand because it’s blocking the celery, all while you also have to pay attention to the
studio director on the floor who is pointing to which camera you have to face.” Watching chefs compete on television can be downright nerve wracking. The surprise ingredients… “HAMBURGER!”
…the drama, the mishaps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these shows blur the
lines when it comes to certain aspects of reality. According to an ABC News report, Iron Chefs
are actually selected in advance, and two of the three chefs lurking in the dark are
just stand-ins. And competitors are given three possibilities
for the secret ingredient ahead of time, which allows the show to stock their pantries accordingly. As for all that cattiness between contestants? One Redditor who says they filmed an episode
of a pastry competition show says it’s all in the editing, revealing:
“They sit you down to interview you and don’t let you go until they get something they can
edit to sound badly.” Another Redditor, who says they worked as
an intern on a Food Network reality show, says you can also blame editing for the seemingly
rushed finish, sharing: “You can always have the countdown put over
footage of a contestant making the final touches, even if those final touches were done 5 minutes
before time was up.” And a culinary assistant on Cupcake Wars claims
those inexplicable mishaps were intentional sabotages, alleging that if the oven wasn’t
hot enough, it was actually due to a camera man purposely turning it down. How’s that for reality? “I’m beyond freaking out.” For all of the criticism Guy Fieri receives, his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has quite
the positive impact on the restaurants featured. Restaurant owner Griffin Bufkin told Thrillist:
“[Fieri] told us to be ready for a 200 percent increase in business. Believe it or not, that’s what happened. And it really hasn’t stopped ever since.” From taping to airing, there’s about a six
month lag, but once it hits, it hits big. And because the network reruns shows, the
restaurants experience regular upswings in business. Another featured owner, Sarah Sanneh, explained:
“We can always tell the day after our episode has been re-run. Like, all of a sudden we’ll be slammed on
some random Tuesday, then we’ll realize, ‘Oh, they just replayed our show. […] That makes sense.'” That’s unsurprising given the people who seem
to really love Fieri and the show. According to Allen Salkin’s tell-all book,
From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, billionaire hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen forked
over a boatload of cold, hard cash to pal around Connecticut with Fieri for day, playing
out his fantasy episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “This is ridiculous.” Believe it or not, some of the biggest criticism
of Food Network stars comes from other Food Network personalities. For example, it turns out Martha Stewart is
a bit threatened by her competitors — or at least that’s the way she’s portrayed with
respect to Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten in Allen Salkin’s book, which alleges Stewart
changed her mind after producing a pilot for Garten. The book reports:
“[Stewart was] unhappy that another woman was going to be the star of a show produced
by her company.” What’s more, the book alleges she went so
far as to destroy all evidence the pilot happened. Stewart reportedly told her team:
“I don’t want to be representing Ina. I don’t want this shown. I want the tapes of this whole series destroyed.” Thanks for watching! Click the Mashed icon to subscribe to our
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