I Like Alton Brown (doesn't everyone?)
I have been a fanboy of many TV cooks/chefs over the years. My first fandom occured back in the late 60's/early 70's with Graham Kerr. I simply loved his sense of humor and his deep love of food. His infectiously fun-loving manner has reinforced my approach to cooking, music and teaching.
Then there was Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet. Although his memory is somewhat discolored by events that came to the fore near the end of his life, I never-the-less enjoyed his show and his love of food and community. Many of his recipes are still part of my repertoire.
And then came Alton Brown. What can I say? The man loves technology, as I do, loves food, as I do, loves humor (not to mention Monty Python) which I do and loves the intellectual, investigative aspect of food and it's history - something that I didn't know I love, but do now.
I'd have to say my fandom of Alton rivals that of Graham Kerr. Although imprinted with Graham as a young duckling, Alton's volume of work and variety of approaches to food on TV has pretty much sealed at least a tie.
Good Eats first came into my world in the early 2000's. At the time I was a full time teacher and stay at home dad the rest of the time. That meant that especially during the Summer, I found myself glued to the TV watching Food Network. I had been used to the usual cooking show format where the chef/star would do a small lead-in and then get to cooking. The production values were mediocre at best, particularly in those days, and your knew what your were going to get.
Emeril Lagasse has broken that mold to a certain extent by making a talk-show/party out of the format. But it still was: set-up, cook, taste, bye bye! format.
And then came Good Eats. First off, the procudtion values were big-network quality, or very nearly, there was obviously some good writing as the backbone of the show and time and effort was made to get a point across along with showing us how to cook - very often in creative ways.
I was excited. This was a cooking show format that transcended the usual and blazed new territory for cooking shows to come (or at least I thought so). Over the years I have watched almost all of the shows except for the last season, I can't seem to bring myself to watch the last few shows...weird, huh?
Many of the techniques and approaches that Alton has taught are now part and parcel of my kitchen - wooden cutting boards for veggies, plastic for meats - multi-taskers only in my kitchen (fire extinguisher excluded, thank you) - doing things from the ground up where possible so as to avoid unwanted ingredients and invite good taste - the list goes on.
And then there's the Feasting series! I have watched all three repeatedly. Along with the DVD's of Feasting on Asphalt I I have my cherished DVR copies of Feasting on Waves and Feasting on Asphalt II. Alton's approach to and embrace of the home-grown cook is on full display here not to mention his motor cycling skills. BTW, does anyone know why the second and third series aren't available on DVD? Oh, well.
Since Good Eats has come to an end, Alton seemingly has moved up to NYC to do Iron Chef and his new show Cutthroat Kitchen one which shows off his food knowledge and the other his propensity for being a mischeivious mixer. Both are entertaining but neither smack of the kind of ground breaking genre busting fun that came from Good Eats.
That being said, I still am excited to see where this giant of the TV food world will go next. He's currently touring with a one man show about food - The Edible Inevitable Tour. In it not only does he do comedy and cooking, he SINGS and plays guitar. I have yet to see this show and don't know if I'll get out to it this time around. Hopefully it'll be a success and we'll see more from Alton on Broadway in the near future.
Who would have thought that all this would come from a film student that decided to change careers in mid-stream? Rarely does the world cough up such a talented, driven, inspired artist, yes, artist as Alton Brown. But boy am I happy that it did!