If you read Tuesday’s blog post, you got Allen Salkin’s take on the Food Network—it’s current state, its purpose, its challenges. But for almost all of its 20-year history, the network has been all about its personalities, from David Rosengarten to Guy Fieri. Here’s what the author of the just-released From Scratch: Inside the Food Network has to say about some of them. (Again, like the first post, it’s a lightly edited transcript of our interview.)

And just a reminder: Salkin will be speaking about all things Food Network at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Palm Beach Gardens as part of the center’s 19th annual book fair. Tickets are $45, available here.

Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay is still a prized star, both for his deal with Lowe’s, with his own line [of products], and it seems like his new show Beat Bobby Flay, which is like an evolution of Throwdown, is really promising.

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri remains a key star. He’s on almost 24/7. Is he in danger of being over-exposed? Guy’s idols are Evel Knievel and Elvis. So to some extent Guy is the kind of star that over-exposure is part of his DNA. It may work for him. Other than Triple-D, his cooking shows don’t seem that successful. That’s true, but that’s fine because nobody is that successful with cooking shows right now. Having Guy on a travel show kind of format is perfect. That’s what they want—food-related programming that works in prime time.

Alton Brown

Alton is a control freak. He’s not Mr. Warmth. He’s weird. And difficult. And stubborn. But sometimes that’s what makes great television. Watch Good Eats. That’s why a lot of people fell in love with the network. He’s a great television star, no matter what I tell you about him.

Rachael Ray

She’s a class act and is so easy to work with. I saw two cooking shows being taped within a few weeks. One was Anne Burrell’s show. It took all day, plus overtime, to get through all her flubs and difficulties. Whereas Rachael could shoot an episode of 30 Minute Meals in about 35 minutes.

Emeril Lagasse

Emeril is a gentle, bear-like character. He can mumble sometimes but he’s generally a class act.

Anne Burrell

One of the best stars Food Network has now. That’s because she’s wild; you never know what she’s going to do. And that’s Anne in person too. Anne is a very difficult character. She likes to stay out late. She’s got a real tart tongue.

Sandra Lee

People don’t always say nice things about her. She’s a diva.

Robert Irvine

A difficult character who’s a great television star. He got in trouble for a potentially inflated resume and got bounced off the network at one point. He’s a strong-headed, weird guy. Big shoulders and a very small ass.

Ron Ben-Israel

I just saw Ron Ben-Israel, the guy from Sweet Genius, and he was complaining that they decided that his show was not killing it anymore and they’re not making any more of them. And that was a show that got some attention.