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Table Talk with Alton Brown

Table Talk with Alton Brown

Theater major, camera operator and renowned television host ofGood Eats―Alton Brown shares how he got his start.

Alton Brown, host of the Food Network's Good Eats and author of I'm Just Here for the Food, wants to teach people how tocook. Really.

One part epicure, one part Einstein, Brown describes himself asa "really twisted home ec teacher." He blinds his viewers with foodscience, dispensing informative nuggets such as the vector approachto seasoning or the thermodynamic principle of the Maillardreaction, wrapping each mind-boggling concept in a candy shell ofpop culture to help the information go down.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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"I'm like a big piece of Velcro," he says, over a lobster club(two slices of seven-grain bread stuffed full of lobster chunks,crisp lettuce, and fresh tomatoes) and a side of taro chips atAtlanta's Blue Ridge Grill. "I roll through culture and pick upbits and pieces of stuff. All of those little pieces of culturalflotsam are, to me, ways of getting straight into different partsof the brain."

For instance, Brown might explain the chemistry of smoking fishand the practicality of using a cardboard box as a smoker whilesimultaneously weaving in an homage to the cult TV show Twin Peaks. One way or another, he figures, themessage―that smoked fish can be cooked at home with just alittle ingenuity―will get through.

A theater major turned foodie after doing summer stock inTuscany, Brown got his start in the television biz as a cameraoperator for an R.E.M. video. After a stint directing televisioncommercials, he attended the New England Culinary Institute andworked in the trade before going in front of the cameras in 1999for his self-produced show.

"I make a food show because I'm interested in everything," Brownsays. "And the results of my knowledge are on the plate. And,hopefully, on the plates of other people, as well. If I can getsomeone who hasn't walked into a kitchen in 15 years to get up andgo in there and make a terrific hamburger," he adds in asuperhero-like voice, "my work here is done."

Over cappuccino, which adds more fuel to his high energy, Brownexplains his thoughts about healthy cooking. He believes there areno bad foods, only bad attitudes about food.

"The more we try to cover up our true desires, the worse troublewe get into," he says. "The single healthiest thing you can do withfood is make it yourself. I don't care what it is. The actual actof food preparation is in and of itself a very healthy thing to do.You become more aware of it, of what's going into you, because youknow what went into it."

"It isn't about recipes," he says, of his show, his book, andcooking in general. "A recipe can only serve as an illustration ofa bigger picture. It's all about the power of knowledge."


65 Motivational Quotes By Alton Brown That Will Inspire You Take Wear Your Apron

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.


My advice: write down everything you eat. It's amazing what that "self honesty" can do for you. (Do you really want to have to confess that doughnut? I thought not.)


I love poking fun at myself. I have a rather mean sense of humor.


I love to have battles of the wits with people that can dish fast and dirty - and it leads to problems occasionally, 'cause I can sound mean without attempting to be mean.


You know most of the food that Americans hold so dear - things like hamburgers and hot dogs - were road food, but even before they were road food, they were peasant food.


The moral of this story is not everything that's slick is non-stick, and not everything non-stick is slick.


Laminated Lettuce . perfect for holiday gift giving.


I only really fake it anymore with sommeliers who are being really snotty to me and I don't want to take their grief and so I try to do something to kind of throw them off or put them on the defensive, even if I don't know what I'm talking about.


I think in the end there are only 20 or 30 tenets of basic cooking. It's going at perhaps the same issue from different angles, from different points of view, from different presentation styles, that really makes things sink in and become embedded.


A balanced diet may be the best medicine. I was eating too much good eats. But people consider that part of your job, you know? Eat. And I do!


I had kicked around the idea for Good Eats when I was directing commercials.


Basting is evil. Basting does nothing for the meat. Why? Skin. Skin is designed to keep stuff out of the bird, so basting just lets heat out of the oven. That means the turkey will take longer to cook. so don't touch that door!


Take ice. Ice is fascinating to me. Ice is the one thing in our world that went from an agricultural product to being manufactured.


For me, it was kind of like going into the military or something. And anybody - any male - who has ever worked in a French kitchen knows what I am talking about when I say that.


Do not allow watching food to replace making food.


We're getting dumbed down, taste-wise.


The stubby French painter Toulouse-Lautrec supposedly invented chocolate mousse - I find that rather hard to believe, but there you have it.


If you really love stuffing, wait until the turkey comes out of the oven, add some of the pan drippings to the stuffing, and bake it in a dish. That's called dressing, and that's not evil - stuffing is, though.



Seriously. I'm not very bright, and it takes a lot for me to get a concept - to really get a concept. To get it enough that it becomes part of me. But when it happens I get real excited about it.


I can't talk about anything or write about anything if I don't understand it. So a lot of the stuff that I go through and a lot of the time that I spend is understanding.


Recipe writers hate to write about heat. They despise it. Because there aren't proper words for communicating what should be done with it.


Enough people have now mentioned Bill Nye the Science Guy to me that I now desperately avoid it all costs.


My college degree was in theater. But the real reason, if I have any success in that milieu, so to speak, is because I spent a lot of years directing, I spent a lot of years behind the camera.


A lot of food shows need only to tempt. Some food shows only need to inspire, to empower. And there are a lot of shows that do that.


I looked for a very long time, knowing that it had to happen, but it took me a long time to find someone with the same background and whatnot and I finally found him.


The problem is I am both a procrastinator and a power junkie, so I am very frustrating to work with.


My feeling has always been that 'Good Eats' would have never happened had it been left to a committee.


So I quit my job and went to the New England Culinary Institute for the full two years and worked in the restaurant industry after that until finally I thought I had a grasp on what I needed to do what I do.


I like television. I still believe that television is the most powerful form of communication on Earth - I just hate what is being done with it.


A pie dough comes together exactly like a biscuit only there is very, very little liquid and no leavening involved. Other than that, the same rules apply. My best advice: handle the dough as little as possible.


Molecular gastronomy is not bad. but without sound, basic culinary technique, it is useless.


I spent a college semester in a small town in Italy - and that is where I truly tasted food for the first time.


I am a filmmaker. That is all I've ever been. You know, Martin Scorsese makes films about the mob. And I make movies about food.


Although I don't take myself very seriously, I do take my work extraordinarily seriously.


I have nothing but sympathy for the people who are forced to work with me. I'm better now at picking out those that want to play that game with me, and those that don't.


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it.


The worst food you'll ever eat will probably be prepared by a 'cook' who calls himself a 'chef.' Mark my words.


I'm like a really goofy home ec teacher.


My mantra was to educate people - to actually give them the know-how they could use - and to do it in a very subversive kind of way. I would entertain them, and I was going to teach them whether they knew it or not.


Culinary tradition is not always based on fact. Sometimes it's based on history, on habits that come out of a time when kitchens were fueled by charcoal.


Very good cooks who are employed as 'chefs' rarely refer to themselves as 'chefs.' They refer to themselves as 'cooks.'



Unless your kid is Pele Jr., they're not going to be able to feed themselves from soccer. If your kid knows how to play soccer, but not make dinner, you have done them a disservice.


Stuffing is evil. Stuffing adds mass, so it slows the cooking. That's evil because the longer the bird cooks, the drier it will be.


Last year, I made a refrigerator in my basement. And I needed to because I needed to figure how - you know there is no such thing as 'cold.' There is only less heat.


I'm going from doing all of the work to having to delegate the work - which is almost harder for me than doing the work myself. I'm a lousy delegator, but I'm learning.


Laughing brains are more absorbent.


I'm an absolute connoisseur of cheeseburgers and like to think that I can detect even mere percentages of shift in fat content in ground meat in a burger and can actually name the temperature to which it was actually cooked to the degree if I'm, you know, really on my game.


Jeff Smith was the Julia Child of my generation. When his television show, 'The Frugal Gourmet,' made its debut on PBS in the 1980s, it conveyed such genuine enthusiasm for cooking that I was moved for the first time to slap down cold cash for a collection of recipes.


The kitchen's a laboratory, and everything that happens there has to do with science. It's biology, chemistry, physics. Yes, there's history. Yes, there's artistry. Yes, to all of that. But what happened there, what actually happens to the food is all science.


I found that if I offered to cook for a girl, my odds improved radically over simply asking a girl out. Through my efforts to attract the opposite sex, I found that not only did cooking work, but that it was actually fun.


I know people that could serve me canned tuna and saltine crackers and have me feel more at home at their table than some people who can cook circles around me. The more you try to impress people, generally the less you do.


I say grace. I'm a big believer in grace. I happen to believe in a God that made all the food and so I'm pretty grateful for that and I thank him for that. But I'm also thankful for the people that put the food on the table.


A meringue is really nothing but a foam. And what is a foam after all, but a big collection of bubbles? And what's a bubble? It's basically a very flimsy little latticework of proteins draped with water. We add sugar to this structure, which strengthens it. But things can, and do, go wrong.


My first book is really about heat. That book, for me, was an exploration of heat as ingredient. Why we don't talk about heat as an ingredient, I don't quite understand, because it is the common ingredient to all cooking processes.


The thing that helped me get into the film business was that I went to school in Athens, Georgia and managed to get on, um, working on music videos for a band called R.E.M. and that kind of opened up a lot of doors for me.


'Outlaw Cook' was a revelation. Folks like Jeff Smith and Marcella Hazan got me interested in cooking, but John Thorne pushed me into the path that I follow to this day. This is the only cookbook I've ever read that understands how men really eat: over the sink, in the dark, greasy to the elbows.


That's the ultimate goal of most turkey recipes: to create a great skin and stuffing to hide the fact that turkey meat, in its cooked state, is dry and flavorless. Does it have to be that way? No. We just have to focus on what the turkey is and what the turkey needs.


I kept thinking, 'Somebody has to make a food show that is actually educational and entertaining at the same time. a show that got down to the 'why things happen.' Plus, I hated my job - I didn't think it was very worthwhile.


You don't want flame to hit your food. Flame is bad. Flame does nasty things to food. It makes soot and it makes deposits of various chemicals that are not too good for us. The last thing you really want to see licking at your food while it's on a grill is an actual flame.


Well, you know, when you go into a restaurant, one of the scariest things is the wine list, so whenever I'm really feeling intimidated, I'll just pick a wine type, like a Chianti or Brunello or a Burgundy, and I'll pick a year that's missing and ask for that one.


I think a lot of food shows, especially when we started 'Good Eats' back in the late '90s, they were still really about food. 'Good Eats' isn't about food, it's about entertainment. If, however, we can virally infect you with knowledge or interest, then all the better.


I'm a filmmaker who decided to go to culinary school. All I picked up was the fact if I didn't understand what was going on with every single ingredient, I could be qualifying for, like, the lunch food job at my daughter's school.


I grill almost all of my fish with the skin on because that gives you real protection at least on one side. It's a nice barrier against super high heat which tends to make a lot of fish to turn really flaky. It's very easy to overcook fish on the grill. But I still brush it with oil before I start.


Why People Are Mad at Alton Brown and Why Alton Brown Is Mad at Newsweek, Explained

When Alton Brown — cookbook author and host of the beloved television show Good Eats — shared in a Tweet that he has voted Republican for most of his adult life, it’s safe to say responses were mixed. “I want to believe there are still ‘very fine’ people on both sides of the aisle but… if #GOP leaders don’t get their collective noses out of that man’s ass, we’re gonna have words,” Brown’s Tweet read, in reference to Republican leadership’s refusal to denounce President Trump and acknowledge President-Elect Joe Biden’s legitimate victory in the presidential race.

I have voted Republican most of my life. I consider myself a conservative. I want to believe there are still “very fine” people on both sides of the aisle but. if #GOP leaders don’t get their collective noses out of that man’s ass, we’re gonna have words.

— Alton Brown (@altonbrown) November 9, 2020

Some on the platform praised Brown, expressing how glad they were that he is “one of the good ones.” Others were less pleased, responding to Brown’s Tweet by questioning his political views, and pointing out that use of the phrase “very fine people” is perhaps in bad taste (even if used ironically), as it’s the same one President Trump used (unironically) to describe neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After Newsweek covered the online scuffle and characterized Brown as a Republican, he took to Twitter to demand an apology. In follow-up Tweets, he clarified that he voted for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, and that “[s]aying that I have voted for republicans in the past is not the same as being a republican.” Newsweek later updated their headline to reflect that Brown is a conservative, but doesn’t necessarily vote along party lines.

While many online saw this as an example of a celebrity speaking up for what’s right regardless of their political leanings, this particular dust-up also has some viewers and people within food media sharing their own ongoing frustrations surrounding Brown. He’s a vocal supporter of the second amendment and, as he told the New York Times in 2015, he sometimes carries a gun because he has an office in “a questionable part of town.” Food writer Allison Robicelli took to Twitter to share a photo of the appendix of one of Brown’s cookbooks, in which he praised a cookbook by Jeff Smith, the late cookbook author and host of The Frugal Gourmet, who was accused of sexual abuse by seven young men, who were teenagers at the time of the alleged molestation. In the appendix, Brown writes that he doesn’t “care what [Smith] does or did in his personal life. Everything in here worked back then and still does.”

I was a huge Good Eats fan when it debuted, and blame it for my entire career. Took a class with AB at Sur La Table when his book came out and read it like the Bible. Then I got to the appendix and was never the same. For the youngins, “what he does” was molesting children. https://t.co/17pLj5O0fF pic.twitter.com/8KijTLykFB

— Allison "I'll believe it when I see it" Robicelli (@robicellis) November 10, 2020

Fans of Brown and his television show, which has run for more than 14 seasons, responded to Robicelli’s Tweet with a combination of shock, disappointment, and anger. “Endorsing a pedophile and sexual predator is. just. WHAAAAAT?,” wrote one person. Another user shared that they actually went to check their own copy of Brown’s cookbook: “It’s not that I didn’t believe Allison but I did run down to the basement to check my copy and it was a real WTF moment.”

Others on Twitter took the opportunity to point back to a 2011 Wordpress blog post titled “The Taste of Disillusionment,” by David Rheinstrom, a self-described Brown super-fan who drove 200-plus miles to hear him speak live at Theatre Cedar Rapids in Iowa and came to one conclusion: “Alton Brown is a jerk.” Brown was there to benefit the town’s library, and according to Rheinstrom’s account, started his talk with a disturbing and blatantly racist joke. As he held up one cookbook, Rheinstrom claims Brown told the audience “‘This book’s from the South, where I’m from, and it’s got a few things in it that might be kind of foreign and exotic to you Iowans.’ He turned the page. ‘Look! A real live Negro!’” According to Rheinstrom, Brown continued: “He muttered, ‘Okay. Remind me not to make African-American jokes in Iowa.’” The blog post includes a handful of uncomfortable and offensive follow-ups to the first non-joke, including Brown saying that if a young girl in the audience had two fathers, Brown was “in the wrong state.”

Brown’s open support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as well as Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the two Democratic senate candidates in his home state of Georgia, demonstrate that the cooking personality’s politics can’t be easily distilled or defined, but it’s also not necessarily the marker of progress that his vocal supporters on social media are arguing. As one Twitter user put it, “. The Republican party started running on a campaign of hate long before Trump, and that’s what made him even a viable option for them. Disappointing to hear that it took an actual fascist for you to understand that.”

On Wednesday night, Brown’s Tweet storm continued, becoming increasingly incendiary. In since-deleted Tweets, Brown made conspiratorial-sounding reference to the holocaust and internment camps, writing, “So, when they move us to the camps, do you think they’ll let us choose the state? I’m going to ask for Kansas because the sky is so gorgeous there… over the wheat.” In follow-ups to the bizarre Tweet, Brown continued by clarifying that he was, in fact, not joking, before continuing on his holocaust rant. “Do you think the camp uniforms will be striped, like the ones at Auschwitz or will plaid be in vogue?” The Tweets were offensive, but also made little sense. “Good luck, everybody” read one Tweet, and “Do you guys actually think votes matter here. #sad” read another. Considering Brown’s political Tweets earlier in the day, it seems the television host was suggesting that if Donald Trump does not concede, the United States is at risk of becoming a fascist country.

where were you when Alton Brown went Sky King pic.twitter.com/u0G5xHtFpI

— electoral college student (@AliceAvizandum) November 11, 2020

As of November 11, all of the offending Tweets have been deleted, along with the ones about Brown’s politics. Brown backtracked on his “flippant reference” to the holocaust, and claimed that he intended for the Tweet to “reflect how deeply frightened I am for our country. It was a very poor use of judgement and in poor taste.”

Update, November 11, 2020, 12:55 PM: This post was edited to include Brown’s Tweets on the evening of November 10.


Good Eats 3

I have all the Good Eats cookbooks, and I can tell you that they are awesome. Fun and solid. Christmas is coming up. If you want to get a copy of any of his cookbooks for yourself, or give away as gifts, please you my Amazon.com affiliate links over at CatholicFoodie.com. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it really helps me with the work I do here at the Catholic Foodie.

I really wanted to record his question and answer session, but felt awkward doing so, especially since we were up front and I didn’t want to block the view of people behind me. But, luckily, some folks at Googleplex videoed the hour-long presentation he made to them just a few days before he came to New Orleans. I took the time to go through that presentation and pull some clips that I thought you would enjoy. You will find those clips on the podcast episode (CF124).

Here are some of the topics he talked about:

  • His recently published cookbook, Good Eats 3.
  • Is there life after Good Eats? If so, what is it?
  • How is his health, weight, and sweet tooth?
  • What is his “go to” recipe?
  • What was the last meal you cooked before coming here?

Make sure you listen to the episode to hear his responses.

And if you want to see the whole presentation that Alton Brown did at Googleplex, you can check it out on YouTube.

You may be wondering why I chose to title this episode “Alton Brown, This Bisque’s for You.” Perhaps I was being a bit silly. But, obviously, I wanted to share our experience of meeting him again with you. Also, the two other segments of this episode are related: the question of skim milk and bisque. Bisques are often cream-based. So, let’s move on to our next segment about skim milk.


What I Know About Alton Brown

I went to a book signing for Alton Brown's new book Good Eats 3, and before the signing started, he gave a little talk, then fielded a lot of questions from the audience. It was entertaining.

When his little talk was over, the book signing began. I've got to give the guy credit. He made a point to tell the organizers to allow people with small children to move ahead in line - a brilliant idea considering how long the wait was.

And he was on his feet the whole time. Yep, he didn't sit at a table, he signed books at a podium. We got to sit around while we waited for our numbers to be called for the signing, but he was on his feet from the time he walked into the room until it was over.

I haven't quite had time to cook anything from the book. Well, that's not exactly true. I've made a few recipes that are in the book, but I made them from recipes as they appeared on the Food Network website.

Because, yes, the recipes are available on the website.

Browsing through the book, I can tell you that I already made the tres leches cake, the dulce de leche, and hummus. And yes, I liked all three of them.

I think I might have used his corned beef recipe the first time I corned my own beef, but that's some time ago, so I don't recall for sure.

But, as Alton (my new BFF) said, the recipes in the books are a little more detailed, with better descriptions and explanations. And of course, there's all the show information and little tidbits of science, and some humor, as well.

I've also made recipes from his other books. I wrote about the first Good Eats book (the early years) here and here, and I wrote about the second book (the middle years) here.

  • When he was a kid, he wanted to be a film maker.
  • What he learned in culinary school was that you don't have to go to culinary school.
  • When he first started working at Food Network, the on-air personalities who were nicest to him were Bobby Flay and Mario Batali.
  • His favorite movie is Jaws.
  • His favorite Iron Chef is . all of them. He was pretty funny about it, but he wouldn't name a favorite.
  • He will be on every episode of The Next Food Network Star next year, and he said the show will be "brutal." When someone asked for tips on how to get on the show, he said, "Don't do it."
  • Alton Brown never eats the food on Iron Chef because during the original Iron Chef Masters series he became seriously ill and was hospitalized because there was an ingredient he didn't know about in one of the dishes - oysters. He didn't see it go into the dish, and the chef didn't mention it. So now he doesn't eat anything on the show.
  • Trout ice cream is the worst thing he ever ate. Ever.
  • His favorite secret ingredient on Iron Chef is one that hasn't been aired yet - yak.
  • There's a dark chocolate episode of Good Eats coming up in the 1-hour format. And a new Thanksgiving episode. The Dark Chocolate episode got a round of applause.
  • He has a science-based show in the works that is not about food. He also has a short series in the works for Food Network.
  • He didn't know what a "hall pass" was. Now he does. I'm not sure he wanted to know.
  • He will never, ever agree to compete on Iron Chef America. His reason? He doesn't want anyone else filling in for him lest they figure out how easy it really is (I doubt that it's easy.)
  • His favorite place to ride though on Feasting on Asphalt was the Appalachia area.
  • He won't autograph living things he will sign your cast, but not your arm.
  • He had a nutmeg in his jacket pocket. The nutmeg also got a round of applause.
  • His favorite dessert to make is pie.
  • To help him lose weight, he gave up drinking milk. Not that he had any problems with milk, but milk whispered in his ear about cookies or cake. Or more cookies. And, he said, everyone knows that a box of girl scout cookies is two servings. So when he gave up drinking milk, he found that he didn't succumb to the cookies or cake as much.
  • The props on Good Eats purposely look cheap. And usually they are. The suction cups on the giant squid that shows up at the end of the squid show were made from a bathmat.
  • He feels that giving up diet soda played a huge role in his weight loss. He says that drinking all that sweet stuff accustoms you to having a lot of sweets. So eating a giant bag of chocolate candies seems normal to your body - but it shouldn't be.
  • There is a sock puppet template in the back of the new cookbook.
  • Cooking Channel will be running all the episodes of Good Eats in the order they were originally aired.
  • Alton Brown is afraid of monkeys. Or maybe just sock puppet monkeys.
  • During Iron Chef, Alton can watch feeds from eight of the cameras. There are more. I think he said 13. After the taping, he dubs in information about important things that he missed during the live action.
  • He referred to himself several times as a film maker.
  • He didn't do well in science classes when he was in school, so he had to learn it all on his own when he saw how it applied to cooking.
  • This book has all the recipes from the last shows of the series, except for the last three.
  • He was a genuine guy. I'm glad I had a chance to see him in person. My number for the book signing was 310. He was starting to look a bit ragged by then, but he smiled and signed books and posed for photos. What more can I say? I'm still a fan.

I had received a review copy of the book prior to the book signing, and I don't need two - so I have one copy to give away. No, you're not getting the signed one. That's mine.

To enter the contest, leave me a comment telling me what your favorite episode, character, or recipe was on Good Eats.

For an additional entry to this contest, tweet a link to this contest, and include @dbcurrie in the tweet. Leave me a second comment telling me that you have tweeted.

And that's it. Two entries per person, US and Canada only. Contest begins when this is posted and ends on Sunday, October 23 at the stroke of midnight, mountain time. Winner will be chosen randomly and will have 48 hours to respond before I pick another winner. Good luck!

The lucky winner is SARAH ! Congrats! And thanks to everyone who entered. These comments were so great to read.


We always plate up our savory sweet mashed potatoes! The garlicky, sweet spoonful of the sweet potatoes compliments the rustic bite of the steak. And it brings a brightness to your plate.

We also serve a simple vegetable, like steamed green beans or roasted broccoli. The steak is the star! No need to get crazy with the sides.

If you really want to go all out, serve a caesar salad as a starter using the best caesar dressing I have ever tried!


Alton Brown’s Politics Controversy, Explained

When Alton Brown — cookbook author and host of the beloved television show Good Eats — shared in a Tweet that he has voted Republican for most of his adult life, it’s safe to say responses were mixed. “I want to believe there are still ‘very fine’ people on both sides of the aisle but… if #GOP leaders don’t get their collective noses out of that man’s ass, we’re gonna have words,” Brown’s Tweet read, in reference to Republican leadership’s refusal to denounce President Trump and acknowledge President-Elect Joe Biden’s legitimate victory in the presidential race.

I have voted Republican most of my life. I consider myself a conservative. I want to believe there are still “very fine” people on both sides of the aisle but…if #GOP leaders don’t get their collective noses out of that man’s ass, we’re gonna have words.

— Alton Brown (@altonbrown) November 9, 2020

Some on the platform praised Brown, expressing how glad they were that he is “one of the good ones.” Others were less pleased, responding to Brown’s Tweet by questioning his political views, and pointing out that use of the phrase “very fine people” is perhaps in bad taste (even if used ironically), as it’s the same one President Trump used (unironically) to describe neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After Newsweek covered the online scuffle and characterized Brown as a Republican, he took to Twitter to demand an apology. In follow-up Tweets, he clarified that he voted for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, and that “[s]aying that I have voted for republicans in the past is not the same as being a republican.” Newsweek later updated their headline to reflect that Brown is a conservative, but doesn’t necessarily vote along party lines.

While many online saw this as an example of a celebrity speaking up for what’s right regardless of their political leanings, this particular dust-up also has some viewers and people within food media sharing their own ongoing frustrations surrounding Brown. He’s a vocal supporter of the second amendment and, as he told the New York Times in 2015, he sometimes carries a gun because he has an office in “a questionable part of town.” Food writer Allison Robicelli took to Twitter to share a photo of the appendix of one of Brown’s cookbooks, in which he praised a cookbook by Jeff Smith, the late cookbook author and host of The Frugal Gourmet, who was accused of sexual abuse by seven young men, who were teenagers at the time of the alleged molestation. In the appendix, Brown writes that he doesn’t “care what [Smith] does or did in her personal life. Everything in here worked back then and still does.”

I was a huge Good Eats fan when it debuted, and blame it for my entire career. Took a class with AB at Sur La Table when his book came out and read it like the Bible. Then I got to the appendix and was never the same. For the youngins, “what he does” was molesting children. https://t.co/17pLj5O0fF pic.twitter.com/8KijTLykFB

— Allison “I’ll believe it when I see it” Robicelli (@robicellis) November 10, 2020

Fans of Brown and his television show, which has run for more than 14 seasons, responded to Robicelli’s Tweet with a combination of shock, disappointment, and anger. “Endorsing a pedophile and sexual predator is… just… WHAAAAAT?,” wrote one person. Another user shared that they actually went to check their own copy of Brown’s cookbook: “It’s not that I didn’t believe Allison but I did run down to the basement to check my copy and it was a real WTF moment.”

Others on Twitter took the opportunity to point back to a 2011 WordPress blog post titled “The Taste of Disillusionment,” by David Rheinstrom, a self-described Brown super-fan who drove 200-plus miles to hear him speak live at Theatre Cedar Rapids in Iowa and came to one conclusion: “Alton Brown is a jerk.” Brown was there to benefit the town’s library, and according to Rheinstrom’s account, started his talk with a disturbing and blatantly racist joke. As he held up one cookbook, Rheinstrom claims Brown told the audience “‘This book’s from the South, where I’m from, and it’s got a few things in it that might be kind of foreign and exotic to you Iowans.’ He turned the page. ‘Look! A real live Negro!’” According to Rheinstrom, Brown continued: “He muttered, ‘Okay. Remind me not to make African-American jokes in Iowa.’” The blog post includes a handful of uncomfortable and offensive follow-ups to the first non-joke, including Brown saying that if a young girl in the audience had two fathers, Brown was “in the wrong state.”

Brown’s open support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as well as Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the two Democratic senate candidates in his home state of Georgia, demonstrate that the cooking personality’s politics can’t be easily distilled or defined, but it’s also not necessarily the marker of progress that his vocal supporters on social media are arguing. As one Twitter user put it, “…The Republican party started running on a campaign of hate long before Trump, and that’s what made him even a viable option for them. Disappointing to hear that it took an actual fascist for you to understand that.”


Good Eats

Aquick trip to the afterlife convinces host Alton Brown to get serious about eating more tuna. Find out how to grill on a chimney charcoal starter, how to avoid fake soy sauce, and why you can see a rainbow on Tuna Steaks.

Artichokes: The Choke is On You

Host Alton Brown gets to the heart of artichokes. Pick up tips on storing, prepping, cooking and even eating this giant flower bud, as well as how to make your own herb oil to marinate them in.

Strawberry Sky

Join Host Alton Brown to learn how to make the most of strawberry season. You can macerate them, glaze them, freeze them with dry ice, and even build a summer pudding in a tin can. AB even holds a quick lesson on the power of antioxidants.

Yogurt: Good Milk Gone Bad

Yogurt's not just good for you, it's just plain good. Especially when you make your own. Host Alton Brown shows how easy this miraculous feat really is, then demonstrates plenty of ways to use the white stuff up.

Egg Files 5: Souffle-Quantum Foam

The word "souffle" has instilled fear in cooks for ages. HostAlton Brown believesa strong dose of science is all that's needed to get control of your egg foam. Learn the ins and outs of the cheese souffle, and how to manage the heat in your oven.

Tomatoes

Learn everything you need to know about making the best use of the biggest berry to ever be called a vegetable. Take a serious look at serrated knives, a strange and delicious sandwich and a tomato sauce that almost isn?t.

Chops

Host Alton Brown yearns for the juicy chop of yesterdayand he intends to get it. Visit the neighborhood butcher, pick up stuffing tips (no, stuffing is not evil) and learn more than you ever wanted to know about propane.

Dip Madness

Dips may have driven Alton Brown a little bonkers but that won't keep him from delivering the goods on guacamole, California dip and the unjustly dissed chicken liver mousse.

Choux Shine

The easiest pastry dough to make also happens to be the most versatile and delicious. Trouble is, Americans won's make it because it's got a scary name:pate a choux. Join host Alton Brown as he takes the steamy dough from cream puff to eclair and beyond.

Amber Waves

Join Host Alton Brown and learn everything you need to know about yeast, barley, hops and the hardware you need to bring them together to produce that most American of foods, Beer, It's fun ,easy and Good Eats.

Casserole Over

When a Sunday drive goes bad, host Alton Brown finds himself pushing the limits of his casserole knowledge to free his dog from angry church ladies.

Salad Daze II: The Long Arm of the Slaw

Alton Brown's slaw-centric guest slot on a popular morning talk show turns into a strange and wonderful half hour of good eats.

A Cake on Every Plate

Host Alton Brown finds a challenge in his mail box: decipher a deceased family baker's famous yellow cake.

The Icing Man Cometh

Cake is dandy but let's face it, without frosting it's just sweet bread (not sweetbreads). Host Alton Brown builds a better butter cream then builds a layer cake from ground up. with tools from his local hardware.

Use Your Noodle 2

Stuffed pastas like Ravioli are much loved but seldom made. Host Alton Brown intends to put that to an end by demystifying noodle and filling alike. The answer: Your ironing board.

Beet It

Long feared by baby boomers accustomed to being accosted by noxious red wedges, beets are good eats, or so says host Alton Brown who suggests one approach the ruby roots with an open mind and a good pair of gloves.

Fit to be Tied

Since childhood, hsot Alton Brown's had a soft spot in his appetite for roulades, savory rolls of meaty goodness that look hard. but aren't. as long as you've got science on your side.


Alton Brown on Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken

We chatted with Food Network star and cookbook author Alton Brown about his live variety show, the upcoming Good Eats reboot and why he’s fascinated with Springfield-style cashew chicken.

By Stephanie Towne Benoit

417 Magazine: You’ve done “Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science” for a little while but have promised a brand-new show this time around. What can we expect?

Alton Brown: When I finished my last tour, I said “Gee, I think we did everything in that show but an actual dance number.” And so now I’ve added a dance number. I actually do a tango with a bottle of sriracha, which is kind of fun. But the anchors of the show are still a couple of very, very large, very, very complex culinary demonstrations that I have audience members help me with.

417: How does the audience interaction work?

A.B.: Oh, there’s a lot of work to be done! Both of the food demonstrations that I do involve a lot of actual labor onstage. There’s also a game show component that we’ll play at one point. So one audience member has to kind of play a game that results in setting certain culinary things into motion. And I will tell you this: In both cases, the audience member chosen will be fitted with protective gear. That’s all I’m going to say.

417: With so many projects on your plate, why do you continue doing these live shows?

A.B.: Number one, it’s fun. I adore performing in front of a live audience. It provides the feel of community that’s really just kind of impossible to get any other way. You know, TV is fun. You can do a lot with television. But I have to tell you, at the end of the day, if you said I had to pick one over the other, I would probably pick the live stage performing.

417: You also seem to be having fun with #ABRoadEats, through which fans send you restaurant recommendations for their towns. Why did you start doing the hashtag?

A.B.: Look, you get to a town. You need coffee you need some breakfast. Why not find out from your fans where you ought to be going? And so, we started the hashtag program really to try to ensure that we were getting decent food and coffee, which is a huge thing for me, but then it also became a way to have a deeper relationship with my fans in those towns. It lets me see what their culinary mind-set is like.

417: I imagine when you come to Springfield you’ll get lots of recommendations for Springfield-style cashew chicken. Have you heard of it?

A.B.: Oh, of course. I’ve had it.

417: Did you like the dish, or did you think it was a culinary abomination?

A.B.: No, I like it. I don’t think it’s an abomination. No, not at all. And what’s so interesting about it is that the words Springfield and cashew and chicken don’t automatically go together. There’s got to be back story. There’s got to be an explanation for how this thing came into being. Can you tell me what that story is?

417: Rather than stir-fry the chicken, chef David Leong decided to try breading and deep-frying it, and the dish became off-the-charts popular.

A.B.: The part of the story that I don’t know and I haven’t found a reliable source for is, why the cashews? Because cashews were, and continue to be, more expensive than other nuts. So I’ve had a tough time figuring out why he ended up not just completely reinventing the dish in a way that would have been more economical for him. But I’ll figure it out eventually.

417: You’ve said that the only true common denominators across cultures are eating and laughter. How does your live show, which incorporates both, fit into that?

A.B.: The actual line is that there are only two things that every people group on earth wants to do together in a group environment, no matter how cosmopolitan or remote: People want to eat together, and people want to laugh together, and there’s a great deal of anthropological research that backs that up. Because of that, I think of food being a universal connector. It’s the thing that holds people together. If I can do a show about that that’s also funny, then I’ve got the double whammy. In this day and age where we are torn apart by so many factors in our culture and so many disagreements and so much animosity, we really need both food and laughter to keep us together.

417: You’ve also said that laughter and learning go hand-in-hand. How so?

A.B.: Laughing brains are more absorbent. When you are laughing, your brain is more open. Your brain is more attuned to being filled at that point, which is why it is so much easier to teach people when you are entertaining them, especially when you are making them laugh. And, again, there’s scientific proof to back that up.

417: Speaking of humor and teaching people, you’ve announced that you are working on rebooting Good Eats. Any updates?

A.B.: I am not releasing any dates of when it is going to happen. I haven’t even announced where it is going to happen. But, there is going to be a digital child of Good Eats, if you will.

The reason I stopped making Good Eats after 14 years wasn’t because I didn’t like it anymore or it wasn’t because it got canceled. It’s that I believed that I saw a very big change in how people were consuming media. I wasn’t even on social media when Good Eats was being made because there wasn’t any. Media consumption has completely changed. I really believe my fans have always been on the cutting edge of technology and media, so I realized that if Good Eats was going to maintain any kind of relevancy, it needed to be reworked for the modern media consumption market. So, it has to be digital.

417: Where do you draw inspiration for all these projects?

A.B.: Human creativity in all of its forms inspires me most. Seeing that continue to explode in the world of food is a source of joy and keeps me going. [When] there are times when I feel like I am drying up, all I have to do is look at what other creative people are capable of doing. There’s never been a time when that’s more true in the world of food than now.

One of the beautiful things about food is that everybody’s got a kitchen, or at least most people have a kitchen. And if you’ve got a kitchen, you have an art studio and a scientific laboratory and a place to preserve family memories. It’s just a very potent and important space. If I could do anything, it’s simply to inspire people to get into that room and spend more time in it.


Yelp Boston

I've caught a few of these shows and they are by far the most informative entertaining shows on food I've ever seen. Heck, I don't even watch regular cooking shows at all, but I'll stop for this one. Tonight he's talking about the history of cupcakes and of course the proper way to crank out interesting and brilliant ones. I should tape a copy of this for Kickass Cupcakes so they can take notes.

Alton Brown totally rocks my world!

He's awesome. I love his show.

PS he uses Pampered Chef products. =D

  • Jimmy H.
  • Minato City, Japan
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  • 1202 reviews
  • Elite ’21

Alton Brown is the shit. Period. PBS's Kitchen Experiment does similar thing, but they don't present as fun and good as Alton Brown.

I burnt out on Alton Brown. It got too hard to predict whether there'd be much good information or just a few well-worn tidbits between lots of skits. He's got a talent for teaching people to cook, not as much as a sketch comedian. Plus his ham show that I looked forward to for weeks let me down -- nothing about curing your own.

It seems redundant that Alton would do a show about ham.

I have to ask, does anyone here ever follow his intructions on how to cook? I'm curious because I would never have the energy, time, equipment, or committment for these recipies.

He drives me crazy. I think he recommended steaming, baking AND broiling chicken wings. (I should mention that he taught us how to craft the best steamer for the first part of the recipe. What?) And for grilled cheese, he made this crazy brick-in-foil weight for the top of the grilled cheese.

It's chicken wings and grilled cheese, Alton. What's wrong with you?

Okay, so maybe I try a brick. I'm all for evolving

I don't know Tracey. I love science and learning about the best possible ways to do things. There are dozens of other shows that keep it simple, so I'm happy there's one that doesn't. The history and chemical lessons alone are wonderful, and some of his techniques have greatly improved how I cook-the Salmon episode for instance. The lighthearted humor and attempts to be different resonate with me as well.

Fifteen hours in the kitchen for one --very good-- grilled cheese.

Yup, you're an odd one there, Tracy. Ugh, and Welcome to a Boston Yelp thread. :)

A grilled cheese. easy enough, you don't even need a brick, though I'd find that helpful for pressed sandwiches and may try soon. I'm all for evolving too. instead of 15 hours (?), try 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the dish.

Baked salmon takes all of 20 to 30 minutes in the oven.

I'm with you, Tracy. I likewise read Cook's Illustrated because I like seeing the process they use to get to their result, but their result is often something like a 24-hour advance process to get the chicken skin just crispy enough.

I go to great lengths when I cook, and make a lot of things from scratch that most people don't. Some would call me unreasonable, and yet I find Alton Brown even more unreasonable.

If he cut the shit and got to the point I'd like his show more, but he's so about bombast that he bullshits his way through by overloading with extraneous process and factoids. He could do so much better if he just applied himself.

Alton Brown is truly the shit,and one day when I hve enough cash I'll be investing in all 17 DVD sets of his. Incidentally, target carries a few of them for stoopid cheap.

And it's not even just a matter of him being too convoluted. Frequently he skimps and tries making up for it with comic filler. I can't respect a guy like that, not in the kitchen. He may be qualified, but he stinks of hack when he pulls that.

I like him but sometimes he goes overboard. After so many years of making cooking shows, I would too. He's a regular guest in my living room.

  • Jeremy K.
  • Glastonbury, CT
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  • Elite ’21

he is quite informative, however, i do not have 1/10 the shit in my kitchen he has, nor to i have access to most of the tools he uses, but if i did, look out id tear shit up!

alton has crazy talent. and for the haters, maybe you're better off with the cookie-cutter tv personality whose sole purpose is to fill the dead space with repetitive adjectives and lukewarm trivia about the ingredients.

the fact that he produced his own pilot, had a fresh take on modern cooking shows and reflected his own sense of goofy personality and food science mania gives good eats fivestar. even when he goes overboard (the beef jerky setup is stupid funny)

I find him. entertaining to a degree, though his brand of humor goes over my head often, and informative for me in a 'history and science of food' sense, but I haven't actually learned anything from Good Eats that's useful for me in the kitchen. Frankly, I found Feasting on Asphalt infinitely more useful.

I spend every night (that he's on) with him from 8-9pm. Mr.Bethany refers to him as "the other man" )

I'll agree that his recipes aren't the best in most cases, but for information, he's hard to beat. When trying to learn how to cook (or any other skill for that matter) it's extremely helpful to know why you're doing something rather than simply reading a step and being told to do it. What's the reason behind tempering, a water bath when baking, why braising is better in some situations, etc. Knowing the science of it all is useful when you want to experiment yourself -- and there aren't many food science teachers on television better than Alton. Still have his episode on beer brewing saved to the dvr.

The point of the show is entertainment and information as well as recipes and cooking techniques, so I don't know that it's fair to judge it solely on how practical you find his recipes. I mean how many people here have made dishes from Iron Chef?

That said, I tried his steam then roast wing technique and thought that the results were totally worth the (fairly small amount of) extra time--I'd had grilled, broiled, and baked wings people prepared in the past and none of those techniques came close to making wings as good as his.

I love him. I love food science.

Good eats is the best -- Alton Brown is like Bill Nye except for cooking and for adults. Nice.

I used to not like Alton, was too "scientist" for me, but I really find him now to be very informative, educational and also possessing some humor (I really enjoy his new show (Chopped).

Joanne, you may be confusing Alton with Ted Allen.

OOOPS. sorry. I am (hundred apologies.

I love Alton Brown. Yes, the way he goes about cooking things is not exactly the most practical for most individuals, so I haven't made a lot of his recipes. For example, I'm not about to go curing my bacon in a junkyard using an empty locker as a cold smoker. But, all in all, I think he's contributed a lot to food tv. a lot more than say the likes of Sandra Lee or Rachel Ray.

Just think about the state of food television eight, nine years ago when he started his program. you had programs like old reruns of Julia Child, Emeril, Yan Can Cook, etc. While informative in their own right, they were merely instructional and never touched upon the chemistry of food. Alton Brown makes me feel like I'm learning . and, you know, learning is power. :P

Jennie has a good point. Compare Alton with the rest of the sad lot on Food Network and he's easily the best thing they have going right now since they kicked out all the chefs in favor of cooks. Like Bourdain said, Food Network must have some incriminating photos of Alton and Flay for them to still be hanging around that place.

Alton Brown's recipe for angel food cake is the bomb. diggity.

This is my favorite recipe of his, from the episode where he cooks it while sticking his head out a tent:

So simple and so delicious!

I like his show, and have for nearly 10 years now. i like him less so now than I did - he seems to be more about the theatrics and less about the hard facts these days, but still entertaining. It has to be tough to come up with new ideas after this many years, I understand that.

OTOH, he is frequently wrong and/or presents things so overly simplified that yes it'd work for the home cook but people who know stuff about that subject get pissed. The other thing I tend to not like are when he goes off on his ridiculous absurdities (like his turkey frying rig) - sure it's funny, but a waste of show time.

If it weren't for Alton, I would never have tried to make some of the things I have, like protein bars and tapioca pudding:)

Definitely agree that sometimes he comes with a bunch of great facts/techniques, and sometimes he just seems like he wants to be the corniest guy on TV with some of his skits. Some things he's way to anal about, but my biggest complaint is that he contradicts himself all the time. One episode he's telling you NEVER to put oil in the boiling water for pasta, the next he's telling you it's OK. Still it's a better show than 90% of the rest of the crap that's on food network. Nothing however beats the comedic stylings of semi-home made with Aunt Sandy (Sandra Lee).

Thanks to many of you (Mike, Traci, Kara and others) who shared that you do actually use his suggestions. I have some friends who love Alton and his shows, but they never cook. Ever. I've seen many of the episodes (because my friends have ALL of them recorded) and find the science interesting.

I'm more of a Barefoot Contessa gal, focusing on excellent ingredients and uncomplicated preparation.

"repetitive adjectives and lukewarm trivia about the ingredients."

Yes, that describes quite a lot of Alton Brown's show.

I had the show on beer DVRed too, when I had cable, because it was the best summary explanation short of going and geting the talk at Modern Brewer again.

I loved "food science" before I had ever heard the term. And he does inject a lot of it into his programs at times. But often he just drops in a little flashy knowledge, cuts to a factoid about the Ancient Scythians and potatoes, then makes a joke that isn't funny. And this doesn't advance my knowledge or appreciation of food.

Plus I think if I had to spend an hour in the kitchen with him I'd kick him out simply on principle for being such a theatric jackass. Can you imagine being stuck on a bus next to this guy, so completely taken with himself? Next stop, please.

I can only imagine the managing of personalities that must exhaust the staff of Iron Chef America with him and Bobby Flay (a whole 'nother breed of jackass, but a jackass nonetheless).