Part Book Party, Part Food Network Reunion

Allen Salkin

Allen Salkin (photo via Facebook)

Last week, Allen Salkin celebrated the publication of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, his book about the 20-year history of the Food Network.

Outside of Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby’s Flatiron loft, where the party was held, publicity girls handed out name tags and instructed guests to write their names and how they knew Allen or how many years they had spent at the Food Network. The party, after all, was billed as a combination “unofficial 20th anniversary Food Network reunion” and book party.

Friends of Allen (or, as some simply wrote, FOA), media and former Food Network employees were cheerfully informed that the elevator was broken and instructed to walk up eight flights.

We suppose that’s one way to get some exercise in to offset the calories in a party celebrating a book about food. And considering that Ms. Touby’s $3.9 million apartment (which was renovated and furnished for $2 million) was featured in The New York Times last year, it was worth the trek for many to get a glimpse of “the loft that Mediabistro built,” as The Times delicately phrased it.

“Thank the sponsors,” Ms. Touby urged, as Mr. Salkin began his short speech.

“I’m a journalist; I don’t like to thank sponsors,” he said, before thanking the sponsors.

Sponsors, in the form of food vendors, made the party feel like Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg (minus the dusty parking lot) and included local wine, Mighty Quinn’s Brisket sliders, homemade kombucha mixed into cocktails, Middle Eastern food, hot sauce and Melissa cupcakes, those ubiquitous miniature treats that seem to pop up weekly.

“I finally lost the food festival weight,” Mr. Salkin, noting, on a more serious note, that the book was dedicated to his father, who passed away the day he handed in his manuscript.

The book was for sale in a corner, and Mr. Salkin encouraged Food Networkers to swap signatures “like a yearbook” (it was a reunion of sorts). A TV showed clips from the early years of the Food Network (was anybody ever so young?), and archival material was taped to a wall.

The couch area, where food was forbidden, filled one part of the living room (according to last year’s Times story, Ms. Touby paid $30,000 for her couch. So we understand wanting to avoid runaway brisket).

Although we missed Jamie Shupak and Brian Stelter, we later saw that the Times media reporter gave his NY1 traffic reporter girlfriend a piggyback ride down the stairs (the prolific social media users documented the gesture).

DJ Spooky, assorted Food Network employees and friends of Mr. Salkin’s sampled sweet fig-flavored vodka on the upstairs balcony overlooking the fog-encased city.

By the time the sponsors packed up and Ms. Touby flashed the lights to signal that the party was over, the elevator was working once again.