Around my house, we watch a lot of Food Network.
This isn’t because of the pandemic and us being stuck at home, either. We’ve had a serious Food Network addiction since, well, forever. How could you not? There’s a range of content, from cutthroat competitions to Alton Brown’s science-y spiels, and it’s all centered around food — and who doesn’t love food?
Of course, we’re probably watching a lot more of it because we’re stuck at home. At this rate, I’m willing to bet we would have blown through the available content on any other network by now.
Food Network has managed to continue filming new content
But not Food Network. No, Food Network has managed to not only have a wide range of past content that’s re-watchable, but they have continued to pump out new content during the pandemic. While other productions are struggling to figure out how to continue, my beloved food shows have continued on.
That’s because Food Network has really nailed the recipe for filming pandemic programming. (See what I did there?)
Some of the shows have made it obvious.
Alex Guarnaschelli is in her backyard, cooking alongside previous Supermarket Stakeout contestants. Guy Fieri is calling up restaurateurs that he visited on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for a takeout edition. They even made that new show, Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, featuring Schumer and her James Beard Award-winning chef husband, Chris Fischer.
The common thread here? They’re all at home.
There are other shows, though, that have managed to blur the lines. If they weren’t talking about the pandemic, you’d have to pay closer attention to tell.
Robert Irvine shifted focus on his show. This time around, Restaurant Impossible is Back in Business, and Irvine is helping restaurants safely reopen after COVID-19 closures. In stark contrast to his usual crew of 35 people and 100+ paid volunteers, Back in Business shaved that down to 12 crew members. Oh, and a COVID compliance officer.
Guy Fieri also got back to filming Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on location, with a smaller crew and new COVID-19 protocols. Although he’s traveling to visit restaurants as usual, his six-person crew is staying in quarantine, sanitation standards are rigorous, crew members are masked, and Fieri even stands apart from owners and chefs.
The network has formulated plans for each unique show
While both of these shows followed similar protocols for filming safely, there isn’t a standard formula that works across the board. According to Courtney White, the president of Food Network and Cooking Channel, they created specific plans for each show.
“It isn’t one-size-fits-all,” White told Variety. “But we did start with: Where can we film with the smallest footprint, the smallest crew — where everybody is very comfortable, and everybody’s on board? Obviously in his scenario, everybody feels different about their own personal willingness to step out of their house.”
They are clearly doing something right. Food Network saw a ratings spike over the summer, smack-dab in the middle of the pandemic. They managed to see the best total day ratings since 2012.
They’re riding high, and it doesn’t look like they’re coming down any time soon.