Alton Brown Goes Live

The celebrity chef and mad food scientist brings his ‘Edible Inevitable’ tour to Cincinnati

click to enlarge Alton Brown
Alton Brown

From the moment celebrity chef Alton Brown first showed up on our television screens with his wacky culinary science show Good Eats, he’s been educating and entertaining us on all things food related. And on Saturday, he’ll be at the Aronoff Center for Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour, featuring “a pinch of comedy, talk show antics, a multimedia lecture, live music (he sings!) and a dash of ‘extreme’ food experimentation (ponchos are provided for the first few rows), and of course ... puppets.” 

We recently got a chance to chat with Brown about his live show, his history with food and TV, and his love of British cult classic Doctor Who

CityBeat: You’re a culinary science and history instructor, show host, spokesperson, cinematographer, cookbook author, comedian and songster. You’ve won many awards, including a coveted James Beard. You seem to be the ultimate Renaissance man. Is there one of these that’s your true passion, or are you the type who bores easily and relishes all to keep a balance? 

Alton Brown: Yeah, it’s definitely the last one. I’ll focus on one thing for a while, but I need to constantly shift or I do get bored. And I constantly need to find something to conquer. I don’t think that that’s so much being a Renaissance man as it’s being slightly schizophrenic. 

CB: Over the years you’ve educated people in not only the preparation of food, but also the science behind it. Who was an important educator in your world? 

AB: Whether it was a college instructor or a chef that I worked under, or someone that I mentored under to some degree in the film and television business, I think that you kind of need to look at everyone that crosses your life as a potential teacher. … I wouldn’t be able to pick just one.

CB: Your upcoming stage show features your own particular brand of “edutaining” culinary science. Does this mean perhaps a return of a Good Eats style TV show? 

AB: I do have a project in the works that is very much Good Eats-style but it won’t be for television — it will be for digital. 

CB: As you’re the host of Iron Chef America, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you have a favorite battle/ingredient.

AB: Well, Battle Yak was pretty interesting.

CB: I know that you abhor kitchen uni-taskers, as do I, but I do own and love my electric egg cooker for its ease. Please confess that there’s just one in your kitchen as well.

AB: OK. Nobody’s ever asked me that before — that’s pretty good. Um, I have a small device that only exists to French green beans. I have a bean Frencher. But I am ashamed.

CB: Food TV today runs the gamut from basic cooking classes to edutainment to straight up game shows. What’s your vision for its future?

AB: Well, obviously I’ve ridden that roller coaster from starting with Good Eats to hosting the show Cutthroat Kitchen, which is an out and out game show. … Where’s TV going? I don’t know. I know where I’m taking mine, which is that I’m going to make a full circle back to more of a Good Eats-style instructional. ... I’m also working on a culinary sitcom that I’m developing right now, and potentially a live late-night show.

CB: Over the years you’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of chefs all looking to make an impression on the culinary scene. What advice would you give someone who wants to stand out from the crowd?

AB: You just have to do your thing. Anything that I’ve done that was any damn good I just did because I wanted to do it. You decide what it is that you’re going to do and you do it. You don’t ask too many people for advice or, if you do, you ignore it and you do your own thing. In this day and age you’ve got to be an individual and you’ve got to be true to yourself or you won’t have any authenticity at all, and I think that people respond more to authenticity than to anything else at all.

CB: I understand you are a big Doctor Who fan. My children are Whovians as well, and they saw you on After Who Live a few weeks back. My daughter would like to know how you would prepare the fleshy inner body of a Dalek. Perhaps raw on the half dome?

AB: Well, Daleks look a lot like cephalopods and, of course, we’re talking about a creature that actually is alive inside a metal structure, so I’m thinking calamari. I would go with a squid recipe. 

CB: If you got to meet The Doctor, where would you take the Tardis, past, present, future, and with whom would you share a meal? 

AB: I think that from a culinary standpoint, I would love to go back in time and see the very first time that man realized that if he cooked meat over fire it tasted great. I would just love to have seen how that went down and how that idea manifested itself. 

ALTON BROWN LIVE! THE EDIBLE INEVITABLE TOUR comes to the Aronoff Center Saturday. Tickets ($35-$75) and more info: cincinnatiarts.org.


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