Geeks We Love: Alton Brown

Alton Brown speaking at the Google Campus in Mountain View, CA. Image courtesy Lawrence Lansing.

These days, much of my geekery trends towards gastronomy.  I’m a kitchen witch, a recipe tweaker, a whip-it-together-in-thirty-minutes-and-it’s-divine gourmet, but such was not always the case.

Just ten years ago, before I met my husband, I had a fear of cooking, and a distinct lack of kitchen confidence.  My meals of choice were often bought-in or easily nuked in the microwave.  Having someone else to cook for made me want to experiment at the stovetop, try new recipes, and learn the basics of cooking.

The other catalyst for culinary change for me was watching my very first episode of Good Eats.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Alton Brown saved my life (well, at least he saved my cookware).

From my first episode of Good Eats (The Egg-Files–awesome!), then airing in syndication on the Food Network, I was hooked on Brown’s quirky delivery of the cold, hard-boiled facts and simple kitchen science.  In 14 seasons, Good Eats covered everything from steak and potatoes to candy and cocktails, illuminating the basics of ingredient preparation, food safety, and all the tips, tricks and trivia you can pack into a 22-minute episode.

Brown speaks of the origins of the Good Eats concept in the first book of his books documenting the series, Good Eats: The Early Years, saying he wanted to create a cooking show that was unlike any other cooking show on television.  True to his word, he delivered a show that takes place not only in the kitchen, but at the ingredient source and at the black (or white) board.  The show was met with critical acclaim as well, receiving a nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best T.V. Food Journalism Award” in 2000, and earning a Peabody Award in 2006.  (Editorially, Alton Brown was one of the few Food Network stars about whom the norotious Anthony Bourdain had nothing negative to say.)

Brown has gone on to host Iron Chef America, where he serves as the resident ingredient guru, and Feasting on Asphalt, which documents the history of road food.  Other books from Brown include I’m Just Here or the Food and Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen.

Good Eats is not only a great cooking show for GeekMoms, but for kids too.  Brown makes learning about food origins, preparation and science fun.  The recipes featured are easy to prepare, and every geek will enjoy the generous implementation of kitchen and equipment hacks.  Good Eats :The Early Years and the recently published Good Eats: The Middle Years document each episode completely, and DVD’s of the show are available at the Food Network shop.

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