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What We Found in Food Network's Prop Closet (Hint: Treasure!)

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On a hot day this summer, we journeyed deep into the basement of one our neighborhood's finest establishments, Chelsea Market, switching back through double doors, looming freight elevators, and floors of fluorescent-lit desks in seemingly endless random succession. The end pursuit? Food Network's prop closet.

Earthenware baking dishes gave Mario Batali's show a Tuscan air, and Rachel Ray's set a hit of color.
Earthenware baking dishes gave Mario Batali's show a Tuscan air, and Rachel Ray's set a hit of color.

A prop closet is something of a treasure chest no matter whose it is; props are, in a way, the soul of a visual brand's photography and videography (just as the things in our real homes so often feel an extension of ourselves). Our prop closet is more of a cabinet than an actual room, just three openings piled high with our very favorite forks and plates and platters and glasses. But Food Network's? It's more like a labyrinth.

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Our very own Kenzi Wilbur captures the moment.
Our very own Kenzi Wilbur captures the moment.

This is a company that's launched hundreds of cooking shows over 20+ years of production, a company that turned cooks (and their styles) into celebrities and household names. When we say we were curious to see what was in their prop closet, we really mean we were so excited we could hardly sleep. Want to see?

A good prop closet is a little bit granny's attic and a lotta bit magic wardrobe. Here's a tour through Food Network's prop closet and lots of the treasures we found.

One of Rachael Ray's sets was all-white, and the set of Tyler's Ultimate was always stocked with warm, worn copper cookware on open shelves, giving it a perpetually cozy vibe.
We stickered our favorites—and the ones we thought you might like—and heaped them carefully on a table.
We stickered our favorites—and the ones we thought you might like—and heaped them carefully on a table.
Colorful canisters like these might have been spotted on shows like Rachel Ray's, where a cute, retro sensibility defined the kitchen's look.
Colorful canisters like these might have been spotted on shows like Rachel Ray's, where a cute, retro sensibility defined the kitchen's look.
Amanda dug up this svelte, geometric kettle, with an angled handle and details in wood.
Amanda dug up this svelte, geometric kettle, with an angled handle and details in wood.
There were probably 10 aisles like these, and a few separate rooms towering with piles of props.
We're all a little obsessed with Dansk, and these perfectly well-loved dutch ovens were a prize.
We're all a little obsessed with Dansk, and these perfectly well-loved dutch ovens were a prize.
The far back corner of one room held holiday decor, used to stage wintry scenes on many of the shows, in addition to canisters and bread boxes of all flavors.
The far back corner of one room held holiday decor, used to stage wintry scenes on many of the shows, in addition to canisters and bread boxes of all flavors.
Paired with coppers, dark pewter and silver pieces would have been used on holiday episodes, to trick out Halloween vignettes or elaborate table settings.
Paired with coppers, dark pewter and silver pieces would have been used on holiday episodes, to trick out Halloween vignettes or elaborate table settings.
Floral patteren dinnerware would have been used for serving finished meals, or for decorating the background of a more feminine set, tucked away in a hutch.
Floral patteren dinnerware would have been used for serving finished meals, or for decorating the background of a more feminine set, tucked away in a hutch.
This minty green cream, sugar, and teapot would have been used on a show like Sweet Dreams with Gale Gand.
This minty green cream, sugar, and teapot would have been used on a show like Sweet Dreams with Gale Gand.
The selection of thatched, wooden, and woven baskets—some tall, some long for centerpieces—were endlessly interesting. Rustic shapes might have found a home on Molto Mario.
The selection of thatched, wooden, and woven baskets—some tall, some long for centerpieces—were endlessly interesting. Rustic shapes might have found a home on Molto Mario.
Molecular-looking vases or beakers would have given shape to something liquid, like milk, on one of the altars on Iron Chef (the larger and more striking the container, the more dramatic Alton Brown's reveal of the challenge's ingredient).
Molecular-looking vases or beakers would have given shape to something liquid, like milk, on one of the altars on Iron Chef (the larger and more striking the container, the more dramatic Alton Brown's reveal of the challenge's ingredient).
Etched glass storage containers like these appeared on Sara Moulton's show Sara's Secrets.
Etched glass storage containers like these appeared on Sara Moulton's show Sara's Secrets.

These papier-maché heads are from a Barney's window installation (circa 2010) by Simon Doonan—do you find them as terrifying/enchanting as we do?

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Martha and Sandra Lee
Bobby and Ina.
Where would the art of food TV be without mis-en-place? There's a condiment bowl to suit every taste on these shelves.
Where would the art of food TV be without mis-en-place? There's a condiment bowl to suit every taste on these shelves.

You might be wondering what we pillaged... So much! We bought a handful of items from Food Network directly, to stock in our own prop cabinets and use in our food photography, and our other 700+ favorite items are going to be for sale in our pop-up Holiday Market, located right on Union Square in New York City. It opens the first week in December—safe to say we'll see you there?

Our pop-up Holiday Market opens to the public on December 3 in New York City; sign up here for a reminder! We can't wait to see you there.


Our magical menu genie will plan your holiay feast for you.

Tags: food network, props, prop closet, design, vintage, antiques