Talk about synergy: TV powerhouse Food Network has had unprecedented success with its magazine, Food Network Magazine—and now the magazine based on the TV shows has spawned a book. Hyperion just released Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals: 250 Fun & Fast Recipes, and as you’d expect, the book was created based on feedback the network has received both from its viewers and from its magazine readers. We talked to Maile Carpenter, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
The book’s photos are very clean; all the food is on white plates and simply shot. Was that based on success you’ve had with similar photos on the magazine?
The book is based on our Weeknight Cooking section, which is a destination for very accessible, quick weeknight dinners. It’s all very simply shot, all on white, with the food in focus. A lot of times [in magazines and cookbooks] images are heavily propped, or in soft focus, to create a mood. But for quick and easy weeknight cooking, it’s really all about the food. You’re not meant to get lost in the image.
How much did magazine readers’ feedback affect the recipes that were included in the cookbook?
Everything in the magazine is based on reader feedback. It’s crazy--I’ve never seen anything like this in terms of how many readers write to us. I think it’s a function of the Food Network brand and how loyal people are to the brand. Sometimes the negative feedback is more helpful than the positive feedback, because we learn every day about which ingredients are difficult for people to find. This cookbook is a function of all the recipes we really love and the things readers love.
In focus groups we heard many times that readers love the diversity of the types of cooking they get on the air. Instead of being loyal to just one specific show, a lot of people watch many shows. So the book shows the influence of all the talent on the network.
Speaking of feedback, Katherine Alford, v-p of Food Network’s test kitchen, went on QVC recently to sell this book. How was that?
It was phenomenal I’ve never seen anything like it. Watching the dynamic of the sale was really impressive. At certain points during the session they show you the numbers as they tick up and it feels like hitting the jackpot. They can track it to very specific parts of the session. If Katherine is tasting something delicious and is like, “Oh, it’s unbelievable!” the numbers will skyrocket. There was a gooey cheese situation--it might have been a mac and cheese--that got people excited, too. It’s really the same question we ask ourselves all the time: what is going to get people to grab the magazine off the newsstand? They’re doing the same thing just on TV.