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Who the Hell is Alton Brown???

I'm serious. I was on the New England board with a thread about lobster rolls and someone mentioned Alton Brown's recipe with cucumber in it. For a Mainer, this is down right sacrilegious! Like using black beans for Tex Mex refried beans. Then I continued to notice references to him. It is obvious that I have no cable or satellite tv I, of course, "googled" him, read his Wikipedia bio and saw his Food Channel show on deep frying turkey. Very good video, informative and entertaining. But how good a chef is this guy? Cucumber in a lobster roll, bah humbug.

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    I don't know what is background is and whether or not he is a trained chef. I often enjoy watching his program though as he often has useful tips. His show usually focuses on an ingredient or a particular way of cooking - braising, say, and then goes into a deeper discussion about how to cooking something and why to do it that way, etc. I wouldn't want cucumber in a lobster roll either though!

    1. AB is a NECI graduate. His show is a quirky, science type schow that a lot of people enjoy, myself incuded.

      With that said, I wouldn't put cucumber in a lobster roll either, lol.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mcel215

        He's as much a 'pop' chef as all the other 'experts' on the Food Network.

        Serious cooking took a downturn from Julia Child with the advent of the FN. Sadly, it went to the very bottom with the advent of the Iron Chef and all the other 'challenges'.

        Alton, in hindsight, appears a genius against the likes of the current crop of 'chefs' on the FN.

        Even Alton himself has been dumbed down to provide an opiate to the masses.

        1. re: dolores

          FN didn't create Iron Chef, you know...

          It started in Japan in 1993.

      2. I like the concept of Alton's show - i.e. that he tells you the why of food preparation instead of just the how - but I find that many of his techniques and recipes aren't that great (although he definitely has some winners). When I watched his Pad Thai episode, I died a little on the inside.

        1. I'm a huge Alton Brown fan and I do not recall him ever making lobster rolls. I've watched every episode of Good Eats, many, many times, and I know he doesn't have a recipe in any of his cookbooks, so whomever said he put cucumber in lobster rolls must have him confused with someone else or confused one of his recipes.

          I love his shows because he does teach about cooking and techniques, put I find him very entertaining. His shows are the only thing I watch on Food Network.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MiseEnPlace07

            I agree that Alton Brown has never to my knowledge had a recipe for lobster roll on his show or in one of his books. Having gone to culinary school at NECI one would think he'd have a passing knowledge of what a lobster roll consists of.

            Passadumkeg, can you provide a link to that recipe?

            By the way, I've made his stuffed lobster recipe (the only lobster one I know of) and it was great.

          2. I am an Alton Brown fan. I usually enjoy his show, Good Eats -- less so when he and his writers resort to stupid skits and premises. He is tolerable as MC on Iron Chef America, except at the closing when he has to recite a glib pun. But he really shines when he does downhome food and interacts with townspeople; I really enjoy every segment of Feasting on Asphalt, both journeys. Funny, hungry, touching, evocative. I'm hoping it won't be too one-note, and tropical food isn't my favorite, but I'm looking forward to Feasting on Water or Islands or whatever the upcoming show is titled.

            1. There are all types of lobster rolls. Are you sure he wasn't making a sushi-style lobster roll?

              There's a recipe by Jaspar White of Summer Shack in Cambridge, Ma for a lobster roll with cucumber ... and as a New Englander myself, I say shame on him

              Of course I'm of the camp that says a lobster roll with mayo instead of melted butter is a sacrilege. I'm also living now in California where improper liberties are taken with the lobster roll.

              I don't suppose you would be interested in lobster roll that subs avocado for the mayo and adds red onion ... gaaaaaah.

              14 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                Uh, oh. Both Alton Brown and Jasper White are both new to me and I confused my colors. WASP names all sound alike. I do enjoy what little I've seen of Alton Brown and have a youtube page bookmarked. Jasper White, on the other hand has a special place in New England Hell reserved for him. Thanks so much rworange and my sincere apologies to Alton Brown fans. I am chagrined. Too much work and not enough play this summer.
                I'm off today for the American Folk Festival in Bangor to translate for a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player, hopefully talk about Norwegian food and introduce her to American fair street food.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Passadumkeg, can you really be a New England chowhound and never heard of Jasper White? Jasper White has been cooking traditional New England seafood for decades and has received countless awards. He is among the most highly regarded chefs in New England. You really should learn more about him than a single recipe before condemning him to hell.

                  1. re: kmcarr

                    That's what I was thinking - I've only lived here for 19 years, and I had heard of Jasper White before I moved here. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to eat at his flagship, Jasper's, but did eat at The Summer Shack when it first opened, and it was good (he still had his signature pan-roasted lobster dish from Jasper's on the Summer Shack menu and it was SO incredibly good!)

                    Jasper has written several seafood-related cookbooks, including the "Lobster at Home" and a superb chowder cookbook: http://tinyurl.com/5jdslo

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Yup, lived here since '86; came from Helsinki to North Haven Island. Raised and almost done putting 5 kids through college Our dining dollars are limited, but our zest for food is not. We have seldomly visited Boston since we are usually bound for family visits in the NYC area.
                      My wife is from Framingham, left in the 70's and has not heard of Jasper White either. We cook and enjoy life, not idolize cooking personalities. I have just returned from the American Folk Festival where I translated for a wonderful young Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player. I speak 5 languages, but sadly have never herd of Jasper White. But my elderly neighbor has taught me to make traditional Maine food like salt fish and potatoes with pork scraps and fish cakes and beans for breakfast and scallops with a lobster cream sauce. And I do not know who Jasper White is. Or Alton Brown either.
                      And if you can read, I did not condemn either one to hell, only reserved a place for Jasper(Humor.) I will, however, try to find out more about him so I don't get excommunicated from Houndom.
                      Carpe diem
                      Ps, Cucumber on a gyro, never on a lobster roll.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        >>> my elderly neighbor has taught me to make traditional Maine food like salt fish and potatoes with pork scraps and fish cakes and beans for breakfast and scallops with a lobster cream sauce <<<

                        Hope sometimes you consider sharing them on the home cooking board. Sometimes these types of simple recipes get lost over time.

                        1. re: rworange

                          My Hispanic in laws taught me to make excellent New Mexican enchiladas, pozole and tamales. Come in handy now.

                          WAIT A MINUTE JASPER WHITE IS FROM NEW JERSEY! Check out the midatlantic board, they can't even find a good lobster roll at the Jersey shore. Now wonder he cukes his lobber rolls!

                        2. re: Passadumkeg

                          Yup, lived here since '86; came from Helsinki to North Haven Island
                          Fair enough, Passadumkeg - not being a native New Englander and living that far north, I guess you get a pass. :-)

                          And I have to agree - cucumber on a lobster roll doesn't sound right.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            I think what bothered me was this was a conflict of urban values with more disposable income not understanding the rural lifestyle with less income and fewer dining options. Both are hounds, but in different ways. Last year I was in Cambridge (My wife's grandfather was a physician a few blocks from the square.) and I had read about Boston's best hamburger. I stopped in, but when I found they started at ten bucks, I gave it a pass (same with Speed's) and went and had a bowl of pho boh at the Garage.
                            I wasn't going to admit it, but I grew up a few miles from Jasper White and my cousin still has a farm.
                            I've got to go get ready for 8 hous of kayaking guiding today.
                            ps I don't want a pass.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              OK, I take the pass back. :-) And I didn't realize by what you've written above that you grew up in NJ. The fact that you had said you came to the States from Helsinki (after my initial post) led me to believe you were "from away" and might not have heard of Jasper White.

                              I completely understand the two sides of the CH coin - but rural NJ does not mean completely cut off from the world. However, I do understand that you are without cable TV, and so might not have come across his name with any great regularity as to have become familiar with the name and his status in the New England food culture. My apologies for making assumptions, but I was only going on what I knew at the time.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Thanks. I spent 17 years as an educator overseas and very much enjoy travel and food, but as educators with a big family, we don't have a lot of disposable income. It's a 7 hour drive down to Boston (I think you are closer to Philadelphia than to me.) and when we do get to the city,NYC, we go ethnic young man go ethnic. I was in the NY area on 2 different occasions this summer and ate from noodle shops in Chinatown, Bolivian in Queens small town Mexican, Vietnamese, and local NJ seafood (soft shell crab). I don't know Boston well and don't eat there often and if we do it's ethnic. I just went to the library and they have no Jasper White cook books; I'll keep my eyes open. For our youngest's 19th birthday we'll go to The Tidal Falls Lobster Pound (My wife has been going for over 50 years!), byob and a gorgeous setting.
                                Ciao & Chow

                          2. re: Passadumkeg

                            It's really cool that you have learned traditional dishes from your elderly neighbors. More people should strive to do likewise. Alton Brown and Jasper White would certainly think so.

                            I know what you're saying about not idolizing cooking personalities, but some personalities have become prominent because they are thoughtful and creative and have developed a sort of mastery (and others are total tools, obviously.) And you can learn from them just as much as you could learn from an elderly neighbor because for every Edna Lewis keeping food traditions alive you have someone dining on fish sticks and canned peas (like my own grandparents, RIP). I've never heard of Mark Twain. I get my fix of stories from Old Clem down at the general store. I've never heard of Ted Williams. I learn about hitting a baseball from Old Roscoe down at the ball field.

                            1. re: deglazer

                              Wiith Julia Child, I am smitten, after her; who cares?

                        3. re: kmcarr

                          honestly, if it weren't for chowhound, i probably wouldn't know who mario batali or any other food celebrity was. i ate at batali restaurants before i realized these places were owned by a famous person (only because i happened to live at the epicenter of his nyc empire) and at summer shack without knowing who jasper white was (only because i got lost on the way back from apple picking and was craving french fries and the shack used to have a gigantic, gaudy billboard up, visible from the highway). having no telly will do that to you.

                          on the other hand, i never forget the name and face of a dog i've met. :)

                          different people use their brain space differently!

                          p.s. i had to google alton brown to see what he looked like. is it just me or does he looks weirdly similar to jack nicholson?

                      2. re: rworange

                        IMO, a good lobster roll needs both mayo AND butter: mayo on the lobster, butter on the roll.

                      3. just an aside

                        "authentic" or not, cucumber sounds like it would be very good in a lobster roll

                        just saying

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: thew

                          i agree. i'm no new englander (sadly... i like new englanders) -- but to me, cucumber in a lobster roll sounds pretty nice.

                        2. I like cucumber in a lobster roll. While it may not be traditional it adds a flavor and small crunch instead of celery. Being from Boston I have had many to try over the years. I think Alton Brown must be a great chef. He seems to have great knowledge about food and cooking. I find him entertaining.

                          1. I think you should come out of the closet and stop acting like a mushroom. Five languages and just fell off the turnip truck (in Finland no less)!
                            Can't remember WASP names.....
                            I have to admit I know next to nothing about Alton Brown or Jasper White, but Rick Bayless? Seriously?
                            I guess I should consider your upbringing. Who needs TV personalities, their shows and cookbooks? Me neither.

                            Speaking of which, I've got some great beets and cabbages in the garden....

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Scargod

                              Haha...for some reason Rick Bayless kept popping into my mind reading this thread on Brown and Jasper White (who I have no idea who he is).

                              re: Brown...food nerd, nice enough guy, good info but artless, more science less craft.

                              re: Bayless...the guy looks like a serial killer from central casting, can't watch him, creeps me out.

                              1. re: ML8000

                                Can't believe you think that about Bayless: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgur...
                                Incredibly normal looking 54 year-old guy....and incidentally, he has won many "Humanitarian of the Year" awards.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  I've met chef Bayless on a couple of occasions, seems like a genuinely nice person.

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    If I read his cook books or heard him on the radio I wouldn't think that. He just has a mannerism and some very stare eyes. Like food, it's up to the viewer/eater. Oh well.

                              2. Alton Brown is the best guy on the Food Network. He is entertaining, VERY informative and just overall seems to know a lot about food and food processes. I suggest you watch more of his videos to see what we all mean.