What Food Network Star Sara Moulton Is Doing Now

Food Network carved itself a niche in the crowded and competitive world of cable TV with a programming slate full of shows about, well, food — game shows, reality shows, travelogues, cooking programs, talk shows, documentaries, and more, all revolving around the preparation, enjoyment, and culture of stuff us humans can put in our mouths and chew. But when the channel modestly and quietly went on in the air in the mid-1990s, it maintained for years a schedule consisting almost entirely of traditionally shot cooking shows — a chef stood in a studio kitchen and made a dish in real-time, addressing the viewer directly as they gave step-by-step instructions. That instantly creates a bond between chef and audience, and Sara Moulton became one of Food Network's earliest and biggest stars, hosting easy-going but impressively results-oriented shows like "Cooking Live" and "Sara's Secrets."

Programs featuring the recognizable and charming Moulton were foundational for Food Network, and ran throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s ... until they just kind of stopped. Here's what Moulton has been up to since leaving the most high-profile outlet of food-based TV in the country.

Food Network fired Sara Moulton

Having worked as the food editor for "Good Morning America" as well as with pioneering TV chef Julia Child, according to HuffPost, Sara Moulton had been primarily just adjacent to cooking on television when, in 1996, the young and upstart Food Network approached her to star on her own demonstration show. Despite a mediocre screen test (Moulton told WGBH that she "never once smiled" and that her "hands never stopped shaking"), she got the job and became one of Food Network's earliest stars as the host of "Cooking Live." According to The Morning Call, that show lasted six years, running concurrently with the spinoff "Cooking Live Primetime" and upon its conclusion in 2002, Moulton rolled into "Sara's Secrets."

That series aired its final episodes in 2006 — because Food Network let Moulton go. "They dumped me. I'll say it," she told Eater. "I was part of the old guard and every time a new president comes in they make changes." The mid-2000s also witnessed a major change in Food Network's approach, switching from a lineup primarily of cooking instruction programs into reality TV and aspirational lifestyle series. "They switched their demographic. It had been women of I don't know what age group. But they changed it to 15-35-year-old males," Moulton explained. "They were more interested in really good looking people with really big personalities."

Sara Moulton now makes TV for public television

In the decade and a half since her exit from Food Network, Sara Moulton didn't disappear from TV. She went on to host and produce a new cooking show in the one place before the formation of Food Network where a chef could demonstrate how to prepare meals: public television. Produced by American Public Television and distributed to various and assorted nonprofit educational stations around the United States, Moulton has now hosted nine seasons of "Sara's Weeknight Meals," giving her recipes and instruction to working people on making culinarily complex dinners every evening of the week.

As a renowned chef with an extensive media background, Moulton is also a go-to guest for daytime talk shows that need someone to do a cooking segment. Over the years, she's made regular appearances on "Good Morning America" (where she also held the position of food editor) and "Rachael Ray." In 2020, Moulton filmed segments of a reminiscent nature regarding her mentor and friend for the public TV miniseries "Dishing with Julia Child," a gig she expanded on in the 2021 Child documentary "Julia."

Sara Moulton has written a lot of books and columns

Sara Moulton has produced a great number of cookbooks, both during and after her tenure on Food Network. Since 2002, four elaborate Moulton guides have graced the shelves of bookstores and avid home-cooks. Her first book, "Sara Moulton Cooks at Home" was released in 2002 and focused on healthy recipes specifically designed to "counter America's disastrous love affair with fast food." Three years later, Moulton followed it up with "Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals," a publication released in tandem with her then-current Food Network show, "Sara's Weeknight Meals." 

In 2010, by that point half a decade removed from her time at Food Network, Moulton published her third book, "Everyday Family Dinners," notable for the chef's innovative and influential chapter "Two for One," in which one night's dinner gets transformed into a whole new meal the following evening. Moulton's fourth and, as of 2021, most recent book is the 2016 release "Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better," a "teaching manual" and guide to technique more than it is a standard cookbook.

Writing in channels besides books, Moulton also authored "Sunday Supper," a monthly column for The Washington Post Magazine, and the weekly (and then every-other-week) feature "KitchenWise," syndicated to newspapers by the Associated Press.

Sara Moulton worked for Gourmet, which went out of business

In 2009, according to the New York Times, periodicals publisher Condé Nast shut down the venerable "Gourmet" magazine. For nearly 70 years, it had been the premiere high-end food publication in the United States, offering exquisite and imaginative recipes from some of the world's greatest chefs with lush photos to boot. Helping to create foodie culture and establish food as a pop culture entity, revenues for "Gourmet" had been in decline for some time, ironically muscled out of the market by more populist magazines like "Every Day with Rachael Ray" and "Food Network Magazine."

The closure of "Gourmet," indirectly at the hands of Food Network, caused terminated Food Network chef Sara Moulton to suffer financially. Before and after her time as a cable TV personality, Moulton served as the Executive Chef at "Gourmet," which included presiding over the magazine's exclusive dining room. "I cooked meals for the advertisers. We'd wine them and dine them. Then, we'd hit them up for advertising," Moulton told Food Gal. "I was making the best food of my life in that dining room." Condé Nast ultimately licensed the valuable "Gourmet" brand to other companies, and hired Moulton back on as a consultant, but she still experienced a period of total unemployment.

Sara Moulton talked about sexism in the food world

In early 2018, after the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements exploded, exposing sexist and predatory behavior by powerful men, Sara Moulton wrote an op-ed for HuffPost to speak out about her experiences with such behaviors. The chef attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in the mid-1970s, where, according to Moulton, the instructors were primarily male. "Men at every level in the school told me the same thing: Women do not belong in the kitchen." 

That inspired Moulton to work harder to prove everyone wrong, and after graduation (and a stint as the head chef of a Boston restaurant) she took an apprenticeship in France, working for acclaimed chef Maurice Cazalis. "All of the other apprentices in the kitchen were 15 years old. I was the only woman," Moulton recalled, adding that Cazalis wouldn't allow her to do much more than prep work. "Even worse," according to Moulton, Cazalis "was a lascivious character and probably loved having me there because he thought he could have his way with me." He frequently and repeatedly made advances against Moulton, even arranging a weekend food trip where he booked them one room, took her to a nude dancing show, and forced her to sleep in the same bed. 

Six months after the gig ended, Moulton mustered the courage to tell her mentor, Julia Child, of Cazalis' behavior. "Her response was, 'Oh dearie, what did you expect? They're all like that. Get over it.'"

Sara Moulton has hip-hop connections

Sara Moulton, old school TV chef, has crossed paths more than once, however unlikely, with old school rap trio the Beastie Boys. According to her website, her Food Network series "Sara's Secrets" merited a thank you in the liner notes of the group's 2004 album "To the 5 Boroughs." Moulton paid close attention to the record, because in response to the lyric, "Serving emcees on a platter like Basked Alaskan" on the track "Rhyme the Rhyme Well," she published a recipe for "Baked Alaskan," a version of the classic ice cream cake.

Moulton's knowledge of hip hop goes way back. "I love the Beastie Boys and I like Run-DMC, the early stuff," she told Eater. She's also just two degrees away from both of those groups and other legendary '80s-era rap artists. Moulton's husband, Bill Adler, has worked in different capacities in the music industry, breaking into it in 1981 after he befriended Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons and offered to be his publicist. "He worked for him for six years and was the early publicist for all the rappers," Moulton explained. "So Run-DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and Will Smith. Those guys."