Food Network is an American basic cable channel owned by Television Food Network, G.P., a joint venture and general partnership between Discovery, Inc. (which holds a 69% ownership stake of the network) and Nexstar Media Group (which owns the remaining 31%). Despite this ownership structure, the channel is managed and operated as a division of Discovery Networks U.S. The channel airs both special and regular episodic programs about food and cooking.
As of September 2018, 91 million households receive Food Network (98.6% of households with cable) in the United States.
Providence Journal company president Trygve Myhren in 1990 was attempting to grow the company and decided that basic cable programming at the time was a high growth area with cable companies beginning to expand their overall channel capacities. With many basic cable channels at the time, Myhren was looking for something different. With food selected as the channel's genre, the working title for the channel was The Cooking Channel up until the channel's launch. Myhren hired Jack Clifford, Joe Langhan and Reese Schonfeld, co-founder of CNN, to help found the channel. Schonfeld, Landghan and Clifford were CEO, vice president of production and president. Both The Cooking Channel and the Food Network trademarks were taken by other entities, with the Food Network being a newsletter. Myrhen originally wanted the network to be operated from Providence, Rhode Island as he argued that a cable network's costs were much more scalable from a lower-profile location, while Schonfeld preferred it be originated from New York, considered the American nucleus of culinary arts; Schonfeld's preference eventually won out, though at the peril of the network's launch budget, which was lower than it would have been from Providence.
Food Network was founded on April 19, 1993, as "TV Food Network"; its legal name remains Television Food Network, G. P. After acquiring the Food Network trademark after several years, it shortened the name to that. The network initially launched on November 22, 1993 with two initial shows featuring David Rosengarten, Donna Hanover, and Robin Leach. On November 23, 1993, Food Network began live broadcasting. Its original partners included the Journal itself, Adelphia, Scripps-Howard, Continental Cablevision, Cablevision, and most importantly, the Tribune Company, which provided the network's technical output.
Given that the channel could not afford to not run anything that they would produce, the channel started taping 5 shows with a potential host to see if they worked. This was later turned into Chef Du Jour series.
Schonfeld, was appointed as managing director of TV Food Network and maintained a spot on its management board along with two Providence Journal employees. The original lineup for the network included Emeril Lagasse (Essence of Emeril), Debbi Fields, Donna Hanover, David Rosengarten, Curtis Aikens, Dr. Louis Aronne, Jacques Pépin, and Robin Leach. The following year, the network acquired the rights to the Julia Child library from WGBH.
In 1995, Schonfeld resigned as managing director of the network, but remained on its board until 1998, when he sold his interest in the company to Scripps. In 1996, Erica Gruen was hired as the president and CEO of TV Food Network, becoming the second woman in history to be the CEO of a U.S. television network. Gruen led the network into an explosive growth until 1998, by launching the largest and number one site for food, FoodNetwork.com, more than doubling the subscriber base, tripling the viewership and multiplying the network's yearly revenue. In 1997, it was the second fastest growing cable network. Gruen changed the brand positioning from Schonfeld's "TV for people who cook" to "TV for everyone who loves to eat," thereby greatly improving the appeal to viewers and advertisers, and saving the network from bankruptcy. That same year, the "TV" portion of the name was dropped, thus making it simply Food Network. Greg Willis and Cathy Rasenberger were two of the original members of the start-up team who led the affiliate sales and marketing of the company from 1995 to 1998. Greg Willis served as senior vice president of worldwide distribution until he left to join Liberty Media in 1998.
The A. H. Belo Corporation acquired Food Network when it purchased The Providence Journal Company in February 1997. Belo sold its 56% stake in the channel to the E. W. Scripps Company in October 1997, in a trade deal that resulted in Belo acquiring the television-radio station combination of KENS-AM/TV in San Antonio, Texas.
Food Network was first launched outside of North America in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2009, and in Asia on July 5, 2010 (on StarHub TV channel 433 and in HD on channel 468). Since the UK launch on November 9, 2009 on Sky, the channel has been added to the Freesat, Freeview and Virgin Media platforms.
In January 2015, the Food Network collaborated with Snapchat and launched its own Food Network channel, "Discover Food Network", where social media users can watch the channel through the app. The channel features recipes, food hacks, and tips to entertain and appeal to the social media savvy millennials of today while watching from the palm of their hands.
In June 2020, Domaine Javier became the first-ever openly transgender woman to be featured in the history of Food Network, through the 20th season of the hit reality-competition series Worst Cooks in America.
Food Network programming is divided into a daytime block known as "Food Network in the Kitchen" and a primetime lineup branded as "Food Network Nighttime". Generally, "In the Kitchen" is dedicated to instructional cooking programs, while "Nighttime" features food-related entertainment programs, such as cooking competitions, food-related travel shows, and reality shows. Promos identify "Food Network Nighttime" programming but not "In the Kitchen" daytime programming. Many of the channel's personalities routinely pull double-duty (or more) – hosting both daytime and nighttime programming – and the channel regularly offers specials which typically either follow its personalities on working vacations, or bring together a number of personalities for a themed cooking event. Food Network broadcasts on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and weekends from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. ET, with the rest of the day being taken by infomercials. The UK channel broadcasts from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. (UK time GMT/BST as applicable) daily.
Mario Batali and Bobby Flay joined the network in 1995. In 1996, Erica Gruen, the network's CEO, and Joe Langhan, an executive producer at the Food Network, created Emeril Live!, which became the channel's signature series. Although Batali has moved on to other endeavours, Flay still appears regularly on many programs, including Iron Chef America, the channel's well-received remake of the original Japanese series. Iron Chef America's host, Alton Brown, gained a cult following for his Good Eats, which mixed science, cooking and off-beat humor. Later the network had a series entitled, "Ruggerio to Go" hosted by David Ruggerio.
In 2002, Food Network made an appeal to the home cook by adding Paula's Home Cooking, hosted by Paula Deen. Home Cooking focused mostly on Southern cuisine and comfort food. The show took overly complicated recipes and classic dishes and broke them down for the home cook. The show did increasingly well, and Deen revamped the show in a series called Paula's Best Dishes. In this series, friends and family members would join her in the kitchen and put a twist on classics and introduce new recipes. In June 2013, Food Network announced that they were not renewing Deen's contract due to publicity about her racial remarks revealed in a lawsuit brought on by a former worker.
Also in 2002, Ina Garten's show Barefoot Contessa aired. Garten is well-known for cookbooks, including The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, and Barefoot Contessa in Paris. Garten was also mentored by Martha Stewart. Garten's show features her cooking for her husband or hosting friends at their home in the Hamptons, New York. Barefoot Contessa typically has about one million viewers per episode, and has received some of the highest ratings for Food Network.
Currently, the channel's biggest cross-over stars are Rachael Ray and Paula Deen, who have both taken their cable following (primarily through the series 30 Minute Meals, $40 a Day, and Paula's Best Dishes) into a syndicated talk show and Positively Paula. Both Paula Deen and Rachael Ray also have merchandise lines of cookware, food products and pet lines.
Beginning in 2005, an annual reality contest, The Next Food Network Star, brought viewers to New York City to compete for their own show on the channel. Previous winners include Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh (Party Line with The Hearty Boys), Guy Fieri (Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Off the Hook, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Guy's Big Night, Guy's Family Feast, Guy's Grocery Games), Amy Finley (The Gourmet Next Door), Aaron McCargo, Jr. (Big Daddy's House), Melissa d'Arabian (Ten Dollar Dinners), and Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Party). For the 2010 season, production of The Next Food Network Star was relocated to Los Angeles. It has become the network's flagship show. For most of its 13-year run, season finales of the show have been followed by lead-out shows the network deems has great potential and will draw even more viewers. These consist of either premieres of new shows, season premieres of continuing shows, or episodes of continuing shows that are significant to the schedule. For instance, the most recent season finale of Star was followed by the season premiere of Beat Bobby Flay.
In December 2007, The New York Times business section published an article on the end of Emeril Lagasse's show Emeril Live, and quoted Brooke Johnson, the president, as saying that Lagasse "remains a valued member of the Food Network family". Derek Baine, senior analyst at the media research firm SNL Kagan, is reported to have commented, "It's not surprising that people move on... They pay almost nothing for the people as they are building their careers... That's been their strategy all along". The article also commented on the declining popularity of the Food Network whose daily ratings were reported had fallen "to an average of 544,000 people from 580,000 a year [earlier]". It noted, "More significant, its signature weekend block of instructional programs, known collectively as 'In the Kitchen,' has lost 15 percent of its audience in the last year, to 830,000 viewers on average. This had left the network owing refunds, known as 'make goods,' to advertisers." Erica Gruen, president and CEO of the Food Network from 1996–1998 who created Emeril Live during her tenure, was reported to have blamed the decline on increased competition, "There's all sorts of instructional cooking video on the Web". But it reported that, "Bob Tuschman, Food Network's senior vice president for programming and production, said the weekend ratings drop was 'nothing we haven't anticipated'. He said the network's ratings in that time period grew by double digits in each of the last four years, growth that could not be sustained." It also wrote, "About a year ago, the Food Network began aggressively trying to change that with new deals that were 'way more onerous' from the stars' point of view, said a person who has been affected by the changing strategy, by insisting on a stake in book deals and licensing ventures, and control over outside activities.
On January 1, 2010, HGTV and Food Network were removed from cable provider Cablevision, which operates systems serving areas surrounding New York City. Scripps removed HGTV and Food Network from Cablevision following the expiration of the company's carriage contract on December 31, 2009; Cablevision and Scripps had been in negotiations for several months to agree on a new contract, but no progress had been made. The discontinuance of Food Network from Cablevision led the channel to make arrangements with Tribune-owned CW affiliates WPIX in New York City and WTXX in Hartford, Connecticut to broadcast a special episode of Iron Chef America with First Lady Michelle Obama on January 10, 2010, after that episode enjoyed high ratings on its January 3 cable premiere. On January 21, 2010, Cablevision and Scripps reached an agreement that resulted in Food Network and HGTV being restored on Cablevision's systems that day.
A similar carriage dispute with AT&T U-verse resulted in Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, and Great American Country being dropped by the provider on November 5, 2010; the dispute was resolved two days later, on November 7, 2010, after the two parties reached a new carriage agreement.
Red Fly Studio developed a video game for the Wii console in partnership with Food Network called Cook or Be Cooked. The game, which was published by Namco Bandai Games and was released on November 3, 2009, simulates real cooking experiences. Players can also try out the recipes featured on the game. There is also a video game based on Iron Chef America entitled Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine. The PC game Cooking Simulator also has extended downloadable content branded with Food Network, including a kitchen which resembles a Food Network competitive cooking show's studio, complete with a studio audience section. This simulator was developed by Big Cheese studio and was released on October 24, 2019.
In accordance with an agreement between Scripps and Chellomedia, Food Network programs started to air internationally in the fourth quarter of 2009 in the United Kingdom and then in other markets in early 2010.
Food Network UK initially launched on the Sky platform as a free-to-air channel, joined by a +1 hour timeshift, taking the channel slots vacated by the closure of Real Estate TV. (Following Scripps' acquisition of Travel Channel International, the four channel positions on Sky were reordered to move Food Network up the grid.) Food Network and +1 were subsequently also made available on the Freesat satellite platform.
On terrestrial service Freeview, initially a four-hour primetime evening bloc was acquired, sharing capacity with channels including Create and Craft; subsequently Food Network relocated to its own full-day service, with the four-hour berth used to bring Travel Channel to DTT. (Travel has since itself moved to all-day operation, with the evening hours now absorbed into Create & Craft.) Scripps subsequently signed a carriage deal with Virgin Media to bring Food Network and Travel Channel to the cable platform (in Travel's case this was a re-addition following its earlier removal from the cable platform.)
In September 2019 it was announced that the former UKTV channel Good Food, which Discovery had acquired full control of earlier in the year, would be closed from 12 September 2019, with its content merged into Food Network UK.
Some countries have their own Food Network. Examples include: Food Network Canada, Food Network Asia, Food Network Italy and Food Network Europe. In the second half of 2014, Food Network Brazil began broadcasting with programs fully dubbed in Portuguese and optional subtitles. On February 1, 2015, Food Network launched on Australian IPTV service Fetch TV. The channel launched in Latin America in March 2015 with full Spanish dubbed programs.
A localised free-to-air Australian version was launched on 17 November 2015 by SBS, which had a licensing and programming output arrangement with Scripps. Another reiteration, the Seven Network's 7food network began broadcasting in December 2018 after SBS's deal ended in November 2018. After lower than expected ratings, 7food network closed on 28 December 2019, although select Food Network shows continued to air on sister network 7flix until 1 December 2020.
On 1 December 2018, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific rebranded its Food TV channel in New Zealand to a New Zealand version of Food Network. On 3 February 2021, Sky announced that Food Network will close in New Zealand and a selection of Food Network shows will be moved to its sister channel, Living. On 1 March 2021 the channel was replaced by Investigation Discovery. 
Food Network was available in the Netherlands and Flanders between 22 April 2010 and 31 January 2019. Content from former Scripps television channels Travel Channel, Fine Living and Food Network has been integrated into the programming of Discovery, TLC and Investigation Discovery in the Benelux.
In 2011, Scripps requested to add its Cooking Channel, formerly Fine Living Network, to the partnership and Tribune agreed. With the Cooking Channel considered to be worth $350 million, Tribune would need to add additional capital.
While Food Network programming generally does not explicitly advertise products, author Cheri Ketchum argues that Food Network advertises a lifestyle that is consistent with the norms of consumer culture. Ketchum argues that Food Network deliberately chooses non-controversial programming, rather than programming which challenges aspects of consumer culture such as food waste and environmental impacts of food production. Critics of Food Network such as Michael Z. Newman argue that the use of lighting and close-ups, along with the use of conventionally attractive hosts, create a fetishization of desirable foods and a consumerist lifestyle.
Critics complain of disproportionate racial representation in Food Network programming. Tasha Oren argues that the overrepresentation of Asian-Americans in competition shows on the network, along with the lack of representation of Asian-Americans as hosts of programs, contributes to the "model minority" stereotype of Asian-Americans. However, Oren also offers the perspective that competition shows are viewed by network management as a low-risk entry point for hosts, especially those for whom a program may not be well received by audiences.