DISHING THE DIRT

From journalist Allen Salkin comes From Scratch, a new tell-all history of the Food Network that details the egos and feuds of the people who turned a fledgling upstart into a cable TV empire. The precipitous fall of Paula Deen earlier this year wasn’t the first time celebrity chefs found themselves in the midst of scandal. It wasn’t even the first time for Deen. As messy as making food is, making food on TV is messier. From Scratch dishes the dirt with both relish and aplomb.

As Salkin takes us inside the conference rooms, studios, homes, restaurants, and after-hours meetings, we see a salty Julia Child lording it over the early network performers; a fragile Emeril Lagasse staggering from the sudden public shock of cancellation; a very green Rachael Ray nearly burning down the set on her first day; a torn Tyler Florence accepting the Applebee’s job he knows he can’t refuse, but with a chill running down his spine; a determined Bobby Flay reinventing himself once again to survive.

We won't give away all the stories but our favorite one confirms Rachel Ray's legendary high tolerance for booze, second in the food world only to Mario Batali's. A former producer for the network relates a tale about a wild night of drinking that ended with Batali and Ray EACH ordering 25 shots at a strip club—with lap dances, naturally. While the rest of the party woke with dreadful hangovers, both Batali and Ray appeared early the next morning at a food festival, completely unaffected.

I am sincerely hoping that someone options this book and makes a movie out of it.