As in any home, the kitchen is the central hub of Food Network’s headquarters, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market complex.
The cabler’s biggest behind-the-scenes asset is its test kitchen, which takes up an entire floor of office space with eight different state-of-the-art cooking spaces. Katherine Alford, senior VP of culinary for Food and Cooking Channel, oversees a team of 30 chefs, researchers, food stylists and shoppers who primp the plates and stock the pantries of “Iron Chef America,” “Chopped” (pictured) and other dozens of other shows.
Food Network Kitchens is also where all the dishes featured on air are test-driven, plus the roughly 120 recipes that are featured in Food’s monthly magazine.
That’s like producing a cookbook a month, Alford notes. The kitchen mavens hold tasting sessions usually 2-4 times a day, which ensures a lot of foot traffic from staffers on the other floors.
“We really engage with all different parts of the brand,” Alford says. “One week we might be doing high-end recipes for ‘Iron Chef,’ the next week we’re doing kids’ recipes for the website. If America’s eating it, we’re cooking it and touching it one way or another.”
Food Network Kitchens has extended its reach to a facility open to the public in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., plus it has branded food-service installations in baseball, football and hockey venues around the country.
“As (Food) has grown over the years, our support of the business has grown as well,” says Alford, a former restaurant chef and culinary school instructor who has been involved with Food Network since its earliest days.
In overseeing all of the food R&D, Alford feels a responsibility to viewers to make sure she’s turning out the best recipes and troubleshooting for home cooks.
“We are part of the viewers’ conversation about food,” she says. “We are their best friends in food. If people are cooking, I’m happy.”
Over the past 20 years Food Network Kitchens has gone through a staggering amount of ingredients including:
6,720 gallons of milk
14,400 pounds of bacon
24,000 pounds of cheese
96,000 pounds of onions
17,280 bottles of wine