Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a world without Guy Fieri noshing on greasy spoon burgers or Chopped contestants grappling with a bunch of odd ingredients. But in the early days of the Food Network, industry executives worried that a network devoted exclusively to food would be a tough sell.

Much of the early oomph behind the Food Network came from the co-founder of CNN, a man named Reese Schonfeld. According to Allen Salkin, author of “From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network,” Schonfeld took a major gamble in the early 1990s with a food-focused network. People were skeptical at first, and for good reason: Schonfeld didn’t even have a kitchen in his New York City apartment. “That’s how little he cared about food,” Salkin says.

Even Sara Moulton, one of the network’s first celebrity chefs and a former assistant to Julia Child, was initially hesitant.

“Really?” Moulton says, recalling her reaction when she first heard about the network. “How are they going to fill 24 hours, and who’s going to do it?”

Moulton eventually agreed to host a show on the fledgling network, but she had no idea what she was getting herself into. The project was a wreck, they offered zero benefits, and the on-air kitchen didn’t even have an oven, she says.

“It was so stressful. I was so bad,” Moulton says of her screen test. “I said everything I wanted to, I cooked everything I was supposed to, I got it done in 15 minutes. … But I never once smiled, and my hands never stopped shaking.”

Moulton wasn’t the only one who struggled on camera, Salkin explains. Most of the network’s stars had to be specially trained to both cook and look towards the audience. A common calming tactic for trainers was sticking a picture of the chef’s dog to the camera.

“It’s actually very hard to cook and be on television at the same time,” Salkin says. “Almost everybody that does it the first time ends up cutting themselves.”

Most notorious for self-injury was chef Mario Batali, who accidentally grated his knuckles on set and then plunged his hand in a bowl of tomatoes to hide the blood. Because of the network’s tight budget, the producers wouldn’t stop the cameras from rolling, Salkin says. Editing takes was out of the question.

Against all odds, the Food Network took off. Fans began to recognize Moulton on the street, and young audiences swarmed to live tapings of Emeril Lagasse’s show, “Emeril Live.” The network’s rapid rise to popularity ushered in a whole new era of food literacy in the American public, making fine dining accessible to everyone through their TV screens.

But the rise of the Food Network did not coincide with an increase in home cooking. According to industry analyst Eddie Yoon, the number of Americans who say they love to cook has dropped by a third in the past 15 years. Even more shocking is a 30 percent drop in grocery store visits in about the last dozen years.

“People are more discriminating about what they eat, but there’s almost something scary about trying to reproduce it in your house,” Salkin says. Which might explain why more and more consumers are ordering take out and using delivery meal kit services, instead of following recipes at home.

“The advent of food TV, the explosion of it, has raised the bar, and made it that much more complicated and intimidating for people to cook,” Yoon says. And the food and grocery industries are struggling to adapt, as Americans increasingly spend more money on bars and restaurants than they do at the grocery store.

But, Yoon notes, the success of boutique grocery chains is a glimpse at the future of food shopping. “[Trader Joe’s is] probably the world’s greatest convenience store,” he says.

Ultimately, Yoon argues, new innovations are inevitable in a world where the Food Network has turned everyone into foodies, but no one has time to cook a 30-minute meal.