Geeks We Love: Alton Brown

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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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10 thoughts on “Geeks We Love: Alton Brown

    1. If you like Alton Brown, you will LOVE AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN on PBS Sat 1pm. It is cooking by and for geeks. They test recipes, they test products (hey, you gotta love folkswho come up with the best olive oil AND chocolate), they test equipement. I could not cook without them.

      1. I’m familliar with ATK! A former sous chef on the show, Kenji Alt-Leonard, now hosts a column on Serious Eats called Food Lab. It’s my favorite food writing on the web!

  1. When Hubby and I married, I swear I couldn’t even boil water (or rather, I couldn’t tell you for sure when water was boiling). My parents could cook, but didn’t have time (Mom is a doc, Dad was a chaplain at the time), so we always ended up eating out or something frozen.
    Hubby was slightly better than I, but he wasn’t much of a cook either.

    It has been fun discovering that we both actually really like to cook, and it has been fun learning together. Alton Brown has been a HUGE part of that. I can’t stand most cooking shows, but AB is hilarious and interesting! We cook almost every meal ourselves now, and find ourselves experimenting with food in ways that my picky high-school self would NEVER have imagined.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah, I just added that show to my DVR. Geek cooking shows are fun!

  2. I was a huge fan of Alton for a long time. Anything that can teach me things that I can use in everyday life is OK with me.

    A couple months ago, I had the pleasure to meet AB at the Cleveland Food Show. He was incredibly gracious, staying to sign autographs late, and starting his next autograph session early to allow for more people to get their few seconds with him.

    For each person who was in line, he stopped, shook their hand, took a picture if they wanted one, had a few words with them, signed anything they wanted, and made no limits to the amount of things signed. He gave me the impression that he was just as delighted to meet you as you were to meet him. A real standout guy.

  3. I know I’m looking at this all late, but I LOVE Alton Brown too and my husband gave me his “Early Years” cookbook for Christmas in 2009.

    Don’t forget about his Food Network special series he did: Feasting on Asphalt (crossing US Route 66 on his motorcycle) and Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run (following the Mississippi River on his motorcycle). Plus Feasting on Waves (sailing around the Caribbean). Sampling foods all along the way. So yummy!

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