Friday, November 22, 2013

20th Anniversary for Food Network




One basic cable channel that has been growing in popularity is Food Network. It started in 1993 and has evolved in many ways. Some shows are similar to those that were on the air when the network premiered, and others are unique and groundbreaking. When the network started, budgets were tight, the staff was small, and most shows were just people cooking and talking to the camera for 30 minutes. Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay were two of the early stars of the channel. In 1999, Alton Brown's Good Eats aired its first episode. Yes, it's a cooking show, but it's also about the science and chemistry of food. It is a show with humor and the way it is shot is evidence of Brown's early days as a cinematographer, making TV commercials. Also in 1999, Tyler Florence's Food 911 started and it showed Tyler traveling the country and helping people with food "emergencies". Into the new millennium, the channel continued to be about food but also integrated some travel aspects to the show. Rachael Ray's $40 a Day showed her going to a specific city for an episode and having a budget of $40 per day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This show was really entertaining since it showed the unique restaurants and attractions in different cities. I have noticed that Travel Channel has picked up on the popularity of shows that combine food with Travel. Adam Richman's Man vs. Food and Bizarre Foods with Anthony Zimmern have been popular for Travel Channel. Food Network celebrities such as Paula Deen, Giada Delaurentiis, Ina Garten and Robert Irvine have become mainstays of the network's lineup. I think that a real turning point happened in 2005 when a Japanese show called Iron Chef was made into an Americanized version called Iron Chef America. The show has chefs battling against one another, with time constraints, using one special ingredient that they must include in their dishes. Celebrity judges evaluate the dishes and a winner is determined. This show is different since it has a studio audience. I think this is the first show that made cooking into a spectator sport with an audience cheering them on, as if it was a football game or a basketball game. After this, Food Network incorporated more competition shows into their schedule, including Food Network Star. That show has many contestants living together and competing in contests to determine who gets their own show on Food Network. The winner of the inaugural season was Guy Fieri who has become a popular star of the network with his rock-and-roll attitude and enthusiasm. Chopped, The Great Food Truck Race, Worst Cooks in America and other shows have competition as key parts of their appeal to viewers.
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