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Michael Symon, shown on `BBQ Brawl: Flay V. Symon,` is one of the Food Network chefs helping provide levity, entertainment and cooking tips to those safe at home right now. (Food Network photo)
Michael Symon, shown on "BBQ Brawl: Flay V. Symon," is one of the Food Network chefs helping provide levity, entertainment and cooking tips to those safe at home right now. (Food Network photo)

Food Network stars go live, cooking up quarantine recipes and more with #WeCook initiative


Fri, Apr 10th 2020 07:00 am

Food continues to prove great unifier, bringing people together across platforms

Plus: For everyone using Zoom, new Food Network backgrounds being launched!

Food Network and its stars are connecting with fans across the network's platforms in an unprecedented way these days as social distancing and quarantine measures across the country mean more people are isolated at home, craving community, escape and inspiration.

As more meals are being cooked in home kitchens by home cooks and those new to the kitchen, the network and its stars are making sure fans feel the love, connection and support they need across channels and platforms, whenever and wherever it is needed.

Connected by the hashtag #WeCook, a virtual comfort food community has sprung up on social media for the network's nearly 60 million fans across its platforms and beyond. From the cast of “Chopped” to the cast of “The Kitchen,” fan-favorite Food Network personalities including Valerie Bertinelli, Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis, Ree Drummond, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Robert Irvine have taken to social with words of encouragement, step-by-step recipes, live interactive Q&As, Twitter parties and friendly competitions.

"Food is an essential ingredient in the best of times, and during these unprecedented times is proving to be even more essential than ever before," said Courtney White, president of Food Network. "As a network, we have always tried to deliver what our fans need whenever and wherever they are, and with the natural affinity of our on-air talent and chefs to want to feed and nourish, the #WeCook community and live interactive engagements help us to further deliver on that promise."

On Food Network Kitchen's Facebook page, chef Michael Symon has gone live every day from home for the past 24 days and counting, to offer his #SymonDinners series, an ongoing series of cooking classes each night at 5 p.m. ET featuring pantry-friendly recipes to help fans cook up delicious meals from what they have on hand. Recipe ingredients are shared the night before so fans can prepare ahead of time in order to cook along. To date, the series has had more than 12 million views, and over 3 million total engagements (including more than 54,000 questions and comments by fans).

“The Kitchen,” which debuted its first-ever quarantine-edition on Saturday, April 4, scored big with linear audiences, ranking as the No. 1 non-news cable program at 11 a.m. for P25-54. It featured co-hosts Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey Zakarian joining remotely from their homes, to share pantry-pull recipes and cooking tips. All five co-hosts have been active on social, each going live on Food Network's Instagram over the past few weeks for extra engagement and connection with fans to answer timely questions, and will continue to go live over the next several weeks.

Already a natural inspiration for cooking contests everywhere the #ChoppedChallenge took off on social, with Food Network stars challenging themselves, each other and fans, to cook from a mystery basket of ingredients to inspire creativity and inspiration for those cooking at home. “Chopped” judge Marc Murphy kicked it off from his home kitchen on IGTV, with special guest, host Ted Allen, joining remotely via Facetime to cover all of the rules. Murphy then posted his final dish on Twitter, challenging Amanda Freitag and Scott Conant. From there it grew.

Fellow judge Freitag accepted the challenge, as did judges Conant, Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan, Zakarian, along with other Food Network talent, including Carla Hall, Christian Petroni and Zac Young. Fans and celebs joined the call to action showing off their own home creations, including Devon Sawa, Ninja and Wells Adams.

In a world now seemingly dominated by video conferences, Food Network is also releasing backgrounds for Zoom, so fans can be even more connected to the shows they love, with backdrops featuring the sets of “Chopped,” “The Kitchen” and “Guy's Grocery Games.”

Across its schedule, in both daytime and primetime, Food Network and its stars will continue to also go live bringing community and comfort food during this time of social distancing and quarantine. Fans can join the conversation on social with #WeCook to see how Food Network talent and fans are cooking at home.

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