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Alton Brown is my hero.

Not only is Alton Brown hugely entertaining, but he actually helps me understand why cooking works the way it does. Understanding leads to long-term skill, which ultimately leads me to freedom from the bondage of recipes! The copy of "I'm Just Here For the Food" at the local Barnes & Noble has my fingerprints all over it. I've never envied a celebrity before, but this guy... plus he probably gets to hang out with Giada De Laurentiis. WHOA! :-)

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  1. I had the good fortune of meeting Alton Brown (accidentally) at Pike's Market in Seattle. (He was in town for a book signing.) He was very warm and personable and a delight to visit with. Now, if I could just meet Giada.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leper

      Pike PLACE, PIke PLACE, Pike Place Market!

      Sorry, pet peeve : )

    2. Dude... so jealous I am! I'll let you know how Giada is. *dreaming*

      1. Hey maybedave

        If you liked Alton's book, check out

        Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed (Hardcover)
        by Shirley Corriher

        http://www.amazon.com/Cookwise-Secret...

        Alton uses her occasionally on his show, her book is awesome.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Phaedrus

          And if you klike them, eat at Cafe Annie in Houston. Chef DelGrande holds a degree in chemistry.

        2. If you like Alton then read Shirley's book and Harold McGee's book, "On Food and Cooking." You'll realize that although is a great evangelist of food science, he's just a conduit of the greats. You'll be an Alton yourself in no time.

          1. we really enjoy his shows, but his hair on Iron Chef the other night looked like it was cut by someone's 3 year old! Battle chocolate - YUM.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jujuthomas

              My husband remarked to me during Iron Chef that I would totally marry Alton, because he could cook for me, and I (with my back to the TV) was like, "Eh, yeah he can cook, but he looks like Thomas Dolby. . ." then I turn around and see the beard! YUMM!! :-P

              1. re: Covert Ops

                He blinded you! With Food Science!!

            2. Is this Shirley the same Shirley who is a Nutritonal Anthropologist on his show?

              2 Replies
              1. re: MrBigTime

                Nope, she's the Food Scientist. . .the older lady with the cute accent.

                http://www.che.uc.edu/acs/archives/ci...

                The Nutritional Anthropologist is Deborah Duchon.

                http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/GEFP/i...

                1. re: Covert Ops

                  Alton Brown is nice, but the one I really love is Shirley! She's my main girl! Thanks for posting her picture.

                  Anne

              2. Alton Brown is the only good thing FN has going for them.

                As an avid food freak and motorcycle fan, he's my hero.

                9 Replies
                1. re: mr_fro2000

                  But he doesn't know how to ride on loose gravel... so what's he really know about making an omelet? ;)

                  1. re: mr_fro2000

                    Well he's certainly the only thing that FN has to appeal to a reasonably intelligent viewer. Everything else they do is so dumbed down that you want to shove a fork in your eye while the host is babbling...

                    I think the most brilliant aspect of Alton's show is that it is equally appealing to novice and experienced cooks. Even when he is explaining something that is old news to me, I'm not drifting. I wonder what he did before the show, was he ever a teacher or collegiate level instructor?

                    1. re: Kater

                      He worked in the film industry, behind the camera.

                      1. re: Kater

                        He directed music videos, including REM's "The One I Love."

                        1. re: Covert Ops

                          He directed "The One I Love"? No wonder I think Alton Brown's a really cool person.
                          I'd much rather watch his show over the other fluff at FN, and even (gasp!) Tony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Network.

                          1. re: Covert Ops

                            Robert Longo directed the video. Alton Brown was the director of photography.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_One_...

                          2. re: Kater

                            I was under the impression that he also worked in the advertising business.

                            1. re: Seattle Rose

                              Most likely, he was director of photography for both music videos and commercials, as are many DPs. Then he went to NECI to gain knowledge from which he could create a show

                              http://www.neci.edu/home.html

                              clink on his picture to see his video

                              What stikes me most about the show is its visual movement- very filmmaker-y. This is so much more entertaining than the standard, stationary three cameras in a studio approach to most cooking shows. That and the props.

                              What bothers me is, the food network's website does not publish all those asides- if I want to remember how he said to butterfly the chicken before he cooks it, I need to Tivo the episode, or buy the DVDs. All the site will tell me is "butterfly chicken and place in 350 oven."

                              1. re: julietg

                                Just a note, when I was at the library not too long ago, they had quite a few foodnetwork dvd's you can get, beside's can't beat the price, free!

                        2. completely agreed, Alton is the Mr.Wizard of the kitchen. I've seen a lot of scientific food books, but the nice thing is that Alton's books make it concise and spell it out with common sense. The thing about science + food is sometimes it turns into engineering and you lose sight of the cooking. A must have in the cullinary library...I might have to check out Shirley's book too.

                          1. I was at a site where waiters/waitresses post their experiences of waiting on celebrities and they gave him a good rating, saying he was very nice and a good tipper. Always a plus.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: doogette

                                No, it was a couple of years ago. I'll look for it and see if I can still find it. I think there are a few sites like that now.

                            1. I love Alton too.

                              - He seems to have a true natural curiousity
                              - His over-the-top demonstrations make it all memorable and funny
                              - His dialogue keeps at a good pace
                              - His recipes have been excellent in my kitchen too.

                              Most folks with tons of cooking / foodie knowledge could not survive all the scrutiny and sniping about all details of their mannerisms, manner of speech, appearance, etc., that TV hosts must be able to deal with.

                              My bet is that it is even a lot easier to write a book than to be an effective TV host for a food show.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sweet100s

                                Yes its much easier to be a writer....

                                1. re: ccognac

                                  If the ellipsis you used were intentional, and the meaning facetious, then this is the post of the day.

                                  1. re: ccognac

                                    :-) Now you *have* to say it like that!

                                    I think lots of folks here typing at their keyboards could, with the right resources (time, $, photography), pen some excellent writings on their areas of focus and experience.

                                    I think precious few folks could ever cust the mustard as a TV host.

                                    These thoughts are in response to the "He's just a conduit" sentiment. Alton is a great communicator as well as a smart guy and he always seems to be more than happy to give credit and share the spotlight with whoever is the deep expert of the matter.. Yes, McGee has an excellent book, but Alton makes the concepts consumable. Who influences more people?

                                2. Alton Brown is evil. The peach episode is making me long for summer and its delights...

                                  1. A couple of years back I actually met Alton at a book signing in the Seattle area (maybe the one Leper saw him when he was in town for?) and ended up waiting two hours in line to meet him, but had some interesting discussions while in line with some other hounds. My signed copy of "I'm Just Here for the Food" is now quite well worn, and the binding needs to be fixed. It's a great "how it works" guide to the kitchen, and has a couple of good recipes (if you try nothing else in there, try his method of making baked potatoes. Ridiculously simple, and it works great.)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Vexorg

                                      I met him at the same book signing as Vexorg. He was very gracious to each person who had stood in line to meet him. He signed books, took photos with fans and fans' kids, chatted, etc. I was impressed.

                                    2. OK this topic prompted me to start DVR-ing Alton. . I just saw the show on herbs and a new episode tonight "Fowl Territory".

                                      2 things just cracked me up -

                                      1) When he used the expanding pointer with fork tip at the end. What a hoot! :-D

                                      2) When he squeezed the little green germy-guy-doll under the sink and his tummy bulged out in a green blob. TOO funny.

                                      Alton where DO you find your props???

                                      That guy makes me laugh more than any other "host" on TV right now.

                                      And he's truly educational! In watching that show he showed tricks I didn't know about how to clean herbs, make vinegars, and I can't wait to try that Spatchcocked BBQ chicken recipe on my Big Green Egg!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sweet100s

                                        The fork comes from Archee McPhee:

                                        http://www.mcphee.com/items/10571.html

                                        I wouldn't be surprised if you'd find some of the other stuff he uses there too.

                                      2. My sister is in love with Alton. She just doesn't admit it. She thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread!! : )
                                        (But she thinks Rachael Ray is evil.)

                                        1. Some of Alton's 1-liners completely crack me up!

                                          From last week: "I'd rather remove a thymus gland from a gerbil!"

                                          And the small things....

                                          Like when he was squeezing a lemon, making it look like there was nothing catching the seeds. Just when the viewer was thinking "hey he's letting the seeds drop" he turns the lemon to show the little yellow cloth cover on the lemon bottom, and looks all smug -- "Tricked ya!"

                                          Too funny.

                                          :-D

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sweet100s

                                            Or when he holds up a 2-foot-long chemistry class model of a capsaicin molecule for a split second, then says "You may have noticed that looks a lot like cinnamon." B-)

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              Don't forget waffle man! I like that he doesn't take himself too seriously. I don't see Anthony Bourdain in tights.

                                          2. I love alton brown so very, very much. I watch his DVR'd shows every day on my lunch break.

                                            Sure, hes not a "cook" as much as a teacher or whatever, but I find myself ACTUALLY being able to repeat the recipes on his shows, as they are explained perfectly! What is that phrase about teaching a man to fish?

                                            1. This Alton love is beginning to really bother me.

                                              He's a really entertaining guy, and I enjoy watching him, but he's not a guru. He's the guru's publicist. There's definitely a role for this type of person - and communicating the good word is indeed important. Some folks that would never take the time to try and learn from the gurus get the message from the publicist, and that's a good thing, overall.

                                              But if people really like what he's saying, they should take the time to look at the real stuff - the stuff that the publicist/communicator is glossing over. The books by Corriher, McGee, This, and others are the true treasure troves of cooking knowledge. They go into each of AB's subjects in a much more detailed and deeper way. In addition, as books, they are indexed and readily available for reference - something that you can't do with AB's shows, even if you have the DVD's. So in the middle of a project, you can not only look up the quantities and the how-to's, but get a much better understanding of the why's - yes, even better than AB's TV explanations.

                                              I realize that we don't all want to be food nerds - just cook delicious food. But to the extent that we are building Alton a monument here on Chowhound, let's make sure that we're getting all the information in a well-rounded way. His recipes are not all perfect - nobody's are. If one works for you, great - if many work for you where other, well-known recipe's have failed, I'd say, great, again, but maybe it's a matter of learning what you can, through research that may go beyond TV programs, to understand techniques and food science and lore better - so that you can follow more complex recipes - especially the traditional ones.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: applehome

                                                So what is your point?

                                                I think there is room for entertainment and education. I have read bits and pieces of Corriher's book and indeed, it is very informative, but that is my habit and I would never impose my will on others. If these folks feel this way, let them be.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  I have Corriher's book also...it is ok...but not as entertaining or engaging as Alton...it is the only cooking show that I am amused, smiling or guffawing, all the while learning something...it goes down much easier than reading...