12/12/09 Noon at Costco – University Blvd. Winter Park, Fl.
Alton Crawford Walter Brown (born July 30, 1962, in Los Angeles, California, United States) is an American chef, cinematographer, author, and actor. He is the creator and host of the Food Network television show Good Eats and the miniseries Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves, and he is the main commentator on Iron Chef America. Brown is also the author of several cooking how-to books and a regular contributor to Bon Appétit and Men’s Journal magazines.
He brings a knowledge and enthusiasm for the science of cooking and food and a humorous approach to his shows. Bon Appétit magazine named him “Cooking Teacher of the Year” in 2004. He was named “Best Food Guru” by Atlanta magazine in 2005. In 2008, he guest starred on Nickelodeon’s hit TV series SpongeBob SquarePants in the show’s sixth season episode, “House Fancy”.
The pilot for Good Eats first aired on the Chicago, Illinois, PBS member station WTTW-TV in July 1998. Food Network picked up the show in July 1999 and continues to air new episodes. Brown seems to take particular delight in making tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture, such as when he lectured an actor dressed as cartoon character Wimpy during an episode on hamburgers. (For trademark reasons, the surname was changed to “Whimpy.”) He has made numerous references to Fight Club in reference to the cooking processes of lye, such as an episode in which he discussed the process of curing olives. Episode titles include references, such as “Mission: Poachable”, “It’s a Wonderful Cake”, and “My Big Fat Greek Sandwich.” A Good Eats episode takes about three days to produce, according to the special episode “Behind the Eats.”
Many of the Good Eats episodes feature Brown building makeshift cooking devices in order to point out that many of the devices sold at conventional “cooking” stores are simply fancified hardware store items that are sold at grossly inflated prices, and not much more effective than his “homemade” gizmos. For example, in the episode “Flat Is Beautiful”, Brown uses an unglazed quarry tile purchased at a hardware store as a substitute for a much more expensive pizza stone sold at a cooking specialty store. In an episode on barbecue, he makes a barbecue smoker out of an electric hot plate, a pie pan, a flower pot (with basin), and a thermometer. He also uses a similarly designed smoker in an episode entitled “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fish” to prepare a salmon. In an episode devoted to coleslaw called “Salad Daze II – The Long Arm of the Slaw”, Brown makes a more convenient shredding device by attaching a cheese grater to a folded cardboard pizza box. In a contribution to Wired Magazine he describes converting a paper shredder to function as a pasta machine. He has also expressed a penchant for items that are “multi-taskers” as opposed to “uni-taskers.” For instance, in the episode “Choux Shine”, he suggests that casual cooks should avoid purchasing a piping bag for applying a batter and instead use a plastic bag with a corner cut out. Brown repeatedly states that the only uni-tasker in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher, which, in the episode “Good Eats Turns 10,” was used to chill berries to turn into a lightly carbonated smoothie.
During an interview with Ted Allen for Good Eats 10th Anniversary special, Alton Brown acknowledged that his original concept for the show was a combination of “Julia Child, Mr. Wizard, and Monty Python.” During the same special, Alton used a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher and a water cooler to create a freeze drying chamber for fruit. This came with the caveat to “Don’t try this at home”.
Upon return from commercial breaks, Brown can sometimes be seen relaxing with Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.
Good Eats won the Best T.V. Food Journalism Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2000. The show was also awarded a 2006 Peabody Award.