What’s Real And Fake On Food Network

Food Network has helped the nation fall in love with cooking again. At all hours of the day, people can sit back and watch a huge variety of shows about the art of cooking. The network introduced the world to iconic celebrity chefs such as Guy Fieri and Giada de Laurentiis. While Food Network’s shows are amusing, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that is never shown on camera. Take a look at what’s real and fake on Food Network.

The Chopped Judges Don’t Wait For Food

Ted Allen, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, NYCWFF Founder Lee Brian Schrager and Chef Marc Murphy pose for a photo
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Chopped is one of the most successful reality shows on Food Network. So far, they have a total of 46 seasons over the course of 12 years. The judges on the show are experts in cooking who know when a dish comes out perfect or horribly wrong.

While watching the show it seems as if the judges have to wait for the contestants to finish cooking and plating the food before they can eat it. Judge Ted Allen shared with Yahoo that the judges actually get to eat the food while the contestants are still cooking, so they can see how it tastes while it’s still warm.

Everything On Throwdown with Bobby Flay Is Scripted

Chef Bobby Flay in his chef coat
Denis Contreras/Getty Images
Denis Contreras/Getty Images

Bobby Flay has starred on numerous Food Network shows with one of the most popular being Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Flay would travel around the United States challenging unsuspecting people in a cook-off.

According to Mashed, the entire show is scripted. The opponents always knew that Flay was coming and would pretend to act surprised when he showed up at their house. During his time off, Flay has created a successful Instagram career for his cat Nacho with over 221,000 followers.

Guy Fieri Fakes His Reactions To Food

Chef and television personality Guy Fieri holds hamburgers in the kitchen
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A top show for Food Network is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Host Guy Fieri travels around the country trying all kinds of diner foods such as cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and much more.

Regular viewers will notice that Fieri will always give a positive reaction to the food to show that he enjoys it. According to an interview with Eater, Fieri doesn’t actually like all the food he tries. He chooses to keep that to himself because he doesn’t want to give the restaurant bad publicity.

Giada De Laurentiis Uses A Dump Bucket

Chef Giada De Laurentiis cooking in the kitchen
Manny Hernandez/Getty Images
Manny Hernandez/Getty Images

Food Network personalities are filming almost constantly, which means they need to be tasting many dishes regularly. Giada De Laurentiis, known for shows such as Giada at Home and Everyday Italian, has her own way of dealing with this.

One of her employees spoke to Page Six and told them that De Laurentiis uses a dump bucket. The second that the camera cuts, she spits her food into the bucket. It might not be the most sanitary option, but it prevents her from eating too much throughout the day.

The Secret Ingredient Isn’t A Secret On Iron Chef America

Chefs Stephanie Izard (L), Marc Forgione (C), and Masaharu Morimoto pose with guests
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

It takes one of the largest crews to make Iron Chef America run smoothly. According to ABC News, the show has a crew of 127 people who have to handle over 800 pounds of food.

That means that there are certain elements that need to be scripted, so they don’t experience any hiccups. Everyone already knows who the contender will be for that particular episode and the chairman is an actor. Also, the secret ingredient is never an actual secret to the contestants.

The Chefs Use Food Stylists

Chef Shaun Presland plating up food in the kitchen
Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/WireImage/Getty Images
Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/WireImage/Getty Images

Food Network chefs always seem to make their dishes come out perfectly. While these chefs are talented, it is almost always not their dish that is shown as the finished product.

LA Weekly discovered that chefs on Food Network will use food stylists. These are the people who make the food look presentable, colorful, and expertly designed. Chefs need to use food stylists because the food can become damaged under the hot lights inside a studio.

Competition Shows Take Over Half A Day To Film

Host Ted Allen with judges Bobby Flay, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Marc Murphy during appetizer round chopping
Food Network/Notional
Food Network/Notional

While watching a food competition show on Food Network, such as Chopped, it may seem that they only take an hour or so to film. It actually takes a whole lot longer.

On average, shooting a food competition show takes between 12 to 14 hours a day. A former Chopped winner named Kathy Fang explained to Delish that she arrived on set at 5:45 a.m. and didn’t get to leave until at least 9:00 p.m.

Cupcake Wars Contestants Get To Practice Beforehand

actresses wearing aprons on cupcake wars
Food Network/Super Delicious Productions
Food Network/Super Delicious Productions

One of the most mouth-watering shows featured on Food Network was Cupcake Wars. Contestants competed to make some of the most creative and delicious cupcakes for the judges.

Viewers may not know that a lot of the show was scripted. The Recipe stated that the contestants were able to learn what the ingredients were months in advance, but would pretend they didn’t know while they were shooting. This allowed them to practice beforehand. Also, Reddit found that their displays were premade by carpenters.

There Are Always Backup Dishes

men carrying plates of cheeseburgers and fries
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There’s always a chance that something can go wrong on a Food Network show. Chefs are in charge of preparing intricate dishes and need to be ready if something accidentally happens to the food.

According to Tribune-Review, there are several people cooking other versions of the same dishes. They are in charge of cooking them in stages to show the process of the dish to the viewers. Having off-camera chefs is important because there’s always a chance of the original getting burned, overcooking, or just not coming out right.

Many Chef’s Don’t Cook In Their Actual Homes

Ree Drummond speaks onstage
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Although it may look like all the Food Network chefs are cooking inside their kitchens, that’s not the case. The majority actually cook on a set made to look like a real kitchen.

Food Network Magazine wrote that shows such as Iron Chef America, 30 Minute Meals, and Guy’s Big Bite all shoot in the same New York City studio. However, there are still a few that shoot their shows inside their real kitchens. For example, Ina Garten started out shooting Barefoot Contessa in her home.

There Was Always A Lawyer Present At Cutthroat Kitchen

Alton Brown posing for a photo
Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images

Competition shows are the most successful for Food Network, so they must follow a bunch of procedures to make sure everything runs smoothly. One of their most popular competition shows was Cutthroat Kitchen.

Contestants not only had to prove they were good chefs, but would sometimes have to sabotage their opponents to win. In order to check that everything was safe and contestants were following the rules, there always had to be a lawyer present on the set.

Guy Fieri Hides This Food On Set Of Guy’s Grocery Games

Guy Fieri posing for a photo
John Lamparski/Getty Images
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

While Guy Fieri is mostly known for his hit food and travel show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, that isn’t his only show on Food Network. He also hosts a competition show called Guy’s Grocery Games.

Each episode features chefs competing against each other to make dishes from the food from aisles in a grocery store. While giving a tour of the set, Fieri shared that he likes to snack while shooting the show. His secret hiding spot for his beef jerky is behind the rice.

Celebrity Chefs Have Been Given Health Violations

Chef Rachael Ray onstage during a culinary demonstration
John Lamparski/Getty Images
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Celebrity chefs are supposed to be experts in cooking, but they’re only human. That means they are bound to make some mistakes after filming multiple episodes.

Researchers at Texas Tech University’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence studied 49 Food Network shows to look for health violations and found at least 460 of them. Shows such as 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray and Everyday Italian were just a couple of culprits. These violations included licking their fingers, using food that fell on the floor, and not washing their produce.

Most Of The Food Goes In The Trash

trash from a fast food restaurant
John Li/Getty Images
John Li/Getty Images

While making a show on Food Network, the chefs are bound to go through a lot of food within a short amount of time. It would seem best not to waste it, but that is usually what ends up happening.

The food used on these shows often is sitting out for long periods of time under the hot lights of the set. This causes it to become inedible because it will most likely make others sick. The Daily Meal says that the food that can be saved is usually given to charities or the crew, but the rest is thrown away.

Restaurants Changed Back After Being On Restaurant: Impossible

Chef Robert Irvine prepares his food
Zoltan LeClerc/Getty Images
Zoltan LeClerc/Getty Images

The whole idea behind Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible is having celebrity chef Robert Irvine show restaurants what they are doing wrong and help them fix it. It turns out that many of these restaurants are stuck in their ways.

According to the New York Times, many of the restaurants that Irvine transforms actually end up going back to how they operated before the show. They usually do this because their loyal customers were used to the older version of the restaurant and don’t get the same vibe anymore.

Ina Garten Wears The Same Shirt When She Cooks

ina garten wearing a blue button-up shirt in the kitchen
Barefoot Contessa/Food Network
Barefoot Contessa/Food Network

Avid fans of Barefoot Contessa may notice something strange about the show. Ina Garten always remembers to do something specific with her wardrobe. Whenever she cooks, she can be seen wearing button-down shirts.

“I don’t like wearing an apron when I’m working, so I find a denim shirt or a corduroy shirt and I buy 25 of them,” she said to Huffington Post. Button-down shirts feel like a uniform to Garten, so she can change out of it at night when she’s done working.

Alton Brown Didn’t Want To Host Good Eats

Alton Brown looking in a fridge on good eats
Good Eats/Food Network
Good Eats/Food Network

One of the longest-lasting shows on Food Network was Good Eats. It premiered on July 7, 1999, and ran for 16 seasons ending on February 10, 2012. Fans of the show tuned in to watch host Alton Brown explain the science behind the food.

It’s hard to imagine the show without Brown, but he originally didn’t want to be on it. During an interview with Archive of American Television, he explained that he had the idea to write and direct it. Food Network said the only way they’d let him do the show was if he starred on it.

Emeril Lagasse Got His Catchphrase From Being Overworked

Chef Emeril Lagasse prepares food
Dylan Rives/Getty Images
Dylan Rives/Getty Images

Many famous Food Network chefs have come up with signature catchphrases that they use on their shows. Fans may remember Guy Fieri mentioning that food takes him to “Flavortown” or Ina Garten’s “How easy is that?” line.

Emeril Lagasse is one of the earliest Food Network stars known for shows such as How to Boil Water and Essence of Emeril. He was often overworked and would tape around eight episodes per day. In order to keep the crew from falling asleep he would shout “Bam!” and this became his go-to catchphrase.

Judging On Competition Shows Takes A Long Time

chopped judges speaking to contestants
Chopped/Food Network
Chopped/Food Network

The climax of all cooking competition shows is when they reach the judging portion. Expert chefs, and sometimes celebrity guests, will give their honest opinion on which contestants did well and who completely failed.

According to Statesman Journal, Food Network competition shows only show a small fraction of the judging portion. Shows such as Chopped will take approximately 90 minutes for the judges to say what they think and choose a winner. That means that these shows are heavily edited to only show the most important parts.

How Fake Is Worst Cooks In America?

Contestant Amber Brauner perpares her plate for review as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 5.
Worst Cooks In America/Food Network
Worst Cooks In America/Food Network

Food Network makes sure that all their shows are entertaining and that is especially true with Worst Cooks in America. The contestants are placed in a boot camp and are put through a series of challenges to test their cooking knowledge.

Many of the contestants have made some hilarious and dangerous mistakes such as dulling a knife to cut food and overmixing their ingredients. A Reddit user stated that while the contestants are inexperienced chefs, they “are directed to act overly dumb.”

Rachael Ray Set Emeril Lagasse’s Kitchen On Fire

Rachael Ray and Emeril Lagasse posing for a photo
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

While some Food Network chefs have their disagreements, others get along swimmingly. They will often pop into each other’s shows and bounce cooking ideas off each other.

Rachael Ray got ready to film the pilot of 30 Minute Meals on the set of Emeril Live, but there was a big mishap. She started cooking in her skillet, but had no idea it had already been preheated for her. She added the oil to the skillet and huge flames shot up, which almost made Emeril’s set catch on fire.

Restaurant Stakeout Hired Actors

Willie Degel posing for a photo
Jim Spellman/Getty Images
Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Similar to Restaurant: Impossible, Restaurant Stakeout starred host Willie Degel observing failing restaurants and correcting them on their mistakes. There are hidden cameras set up to catch the employees doing bad things at work.

According to Reality Blurred, one restaurant owner says the show is staged. Lucia Ivezaj, owner of Mount Ivy Café, claims that the show hired an actor to pose as a waiter and make mistakes including dropping food on the floor. Ivezaj also shared that his staff was told to change into different outfits throughout the day to make it look like they filmed the episode over several days.

Guy Fieri Does This To Every Restaurant He Visits

Guy Fieri smiling and talking
Roger Kisby/Getty Images
Roger Kisby/Getty Images

There isn’t a Food Network personality like Guy Fieri. He has signature catchphrases, drives vintage cars, and always has a positive attitude. When he visits a new restaurant, he likes to make the owners feel special.

One of Fieri’s original touches is spray painting every wall of every diner, drive-in, and dive he sets foot in. While some owners get a kick out of this, others aren’t too thrilled. Adam Sappington, owner of The Country Cat, told Thrillist that he wasn’t a fan of the spray paint. When he saw customers and tourists taking photos with it, he changed his mind.

Ghostwriters Are Used To Come Up With Recipes

A soup cookbook with a set of wooden spoons and a chopping board
Neil Godwin/PC Plus Magazine via Getty Images
Neil Godwin/PC Plus Magazine via Getty Images

Several Food Network chefs have original recipes that are near and dear to their hearts. When they have to film hundreds of episodes, they don’t always have enough ideas to fill them.

According to Bon Appétit, there are chefs who need to hire ghostwriters to come up with original recipes for their show. They can also use the ghostwriters to write recipes for their cookbooks. For example, JJ Goode has worked for many celebrity chefs including Iron Chef America’s Masaharu Morimoto.

Robert Irvine’s Inspiring Act Of Kindness

Chef Robert Irvine posing for a photo
Rob Kim/Getty Images
Rob Kim/Getty Images

The goal of Robert Irvine’s show, Restaurant: Impossible, is to help failing restaurants by showing them how to handle everything. This can range from waiter etiquette, ambiance, and décor.

His show took a turn for the dramatic when the restaurant he was fixing received an eviction notice the same day it was overhauled. Instead of letting them get evicted, Irvine used the $10,000 budget from the episode and gave it to the owner and his eight kids. Later, he matched the $10,000 out of his own pocket.

Chopped Contestants Need An Extra Plate

a contestant on chopped plating her food
Chopped/Food Network
Chopped/Food Network

The stakes are usually high on Food Network’s Chopped. One of the most important parts of the competition show is plating the food. Contestants have to put their dish on three separate plates for the judges, but must make it look presentable and aesthetically pleasing.

What most viewers don’t notice is that the contestants actually have to plate four dishes. Those who may wonder what the extra plate is for should know that it’s used for the cameras to get a special close-up.

Masaharu Morimoto Didn’t Like This About Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto posing for a photo with their arms crossed
Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images
Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

While many celebrity chefs get the chance to host and judge cooking competition shows, it gets more exciting when they get to be contestants. Both Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto competed against each other on Iron Chef America.

When the competition ended, Flay stood on top of his cutting board and did a “raise the roof” dance. He continued by saying that he knew he was going to win. Morimoto was disappointed in how Flay acted and shared that the cutting board is a “sacred” tool for a chef.

William Shatner Was Supposed To Host This Show

William Shatner posing for a photo
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

It’s important that all of the hosts of Food Network shows have a vast knowledge of cooking. This is why most of the hosts are chefs, instead of actors or other Hollywood celebrities.

Actor William Shatner was supposed to be the host of Iron Chef America when it was originally on a different network. Chicago Tribune wrote that when Food Network picked up the show they dropped Shatner because he didn’t have enough cooking expertise.

Food Network Changed Their Line-Up

Judges Amanda Freitag, Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Maneet Chauhan and Chris Santos of 'Chopped'
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Food Network first aired on November 22, 1993, with only two shows in their line-up. As years passed, they were able to create hundreds of different cooking shows ranging in topics such as instructional, reality, competition, and more.

Someone who watched the network 20 years ago will notice that the types of shows that air may seem different. This is because Food Network adjusted their line-up to feature what’s most entertaining during their prime time hours. For example, competition shows including Guy’s Grocery Games and Chopped will air on weeknights, while instructional shows such as The Pioneer Woman air on weekend mornings.

Ina Garten Never Watches Herself On TV

Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten attends the Sesame Workshop's 13th Annual Benefit Gala
Paul Zimmerman/WireImage/Getty Images
Paul Zimmerman/WireImage/Getty Images

Barefoot Contessa continues to be one of the most popular shows on Food Network. Ina Garten loves to cook, but she doesn’t like watching cooking shows. “I never watch cooking shows, certainly not mine. Not a chance,” she said to People.

Garten says she gets an almost painful feeling after seeing herself on screen because she’s overly critical about how she comes across. She said to Huffington Post, “I just keep thinking, ‘What were you thinking when you said that?’ or ‘You forgot to say this!'”