The Food Network was first launched in 1993 by a cable executive named Joe Langhan. He came up with the concept and founded the network with Reese Schonfeld, who had previously co-founded CNN.
The Food Network had fairly humble beginnings. The channel launched on a budget, so its set was fairly modest. It had no oven, and the sinks were not connected to drainage lines. Regardless, it managed to attract a number of talented hosts, including Emeril Lagasse and David Rosengarten. However, it took a decade for the network to become profitable and become a true force in cable television.
The network began to gain traction in the 2000s, after launching programs featuring hosts such as Rachel Ray and Paula Deen. It also gained traction with "Iron Chef," which originally started as a televised Japanese cooking contest, but evolved into an American program.
In the 2010s, the Food Network faced new challenges, including a declining viewership and heavy competition from other networks. As foodie viewers became more sophisticated, they became less interested in celebrity chefs and more interested in actual food. Several other networks also began to feature high profile chefs on their cooking shows, such as Bravo's "Top Chef."
People who want to read a complete overview of the history of the Food Network can read "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network," by Allen Salkin. The book explains the channel's entire story, from its launch to the book's publication.