Bake or Break

Alton Brown

Quinn and I are back home after travelling to Nashville for their guest chef lecture series featuring Alton Brown. We only found out about this last week, so all the VIP tickets were sold. Those tickets included a “meet and greet” function with AB. We had half-jokingly contemplated trying to take down someone with VIP tickets so we could have the opportunity to meet him.

A bit of background information would most likely be beneficial at this point. Quinn discovered AB a few years ago through our good friend David. Since then, our TiVo has been recording Good Eats at every opportunity. The episodes Quinn has found most useful are saved permanently. It has beome traditional now that “Tender is the Loin I” is viewed before most steak preparation. And Quinn’s favorite t-shirt? That would be AB’s “Science – It’s what’s for dinner.” Okay, so you get the picture. AB is Quinn’s hero. They are mutual geeks, which was further proven yesterday, but I’ll elaborate on that later.

Alton’s cooking demonstration was turkey frying. I’m not sure if this is a Southern thing or not, but there are a great many turkeys that are deep-fried around Thanksgiving. I’ve had some myself, although it’s not my favorite. After smelling (yet, sadly, not eating) AB’s fried turkey, I think I might have to change my mind.

The method Alton has devised for frying a turkey is a tad unconventional. Let’s just say it involved a giant pot, a propane tank, pulleys, and a ladder. And, to satisfy the fire commisioner, about 10 firemen. Quinn, who does indeed have a degree in engineering, will elaborate more on this.

One thing I must mention is that AB is working on a new cookbook – Live and Let Fry. Knowing that made the turkey frying demonstration make sense. He feels that frying, which is his favorite form of cooking, is underutilized. That led him to turkey frying, which he has always been reluctant to do, mainly for safety reasons. To emphasize the danger that comes with turkey frying, he showed some pretty scary pictures of what happens when deep frying goes bad. I won’t elaborate on the details of the specific cooking presentation. AB is expecting a Nobel Prize, however.

For the last 30 minutes, he took questions from the audience. These were many and varied, so I will stick to the high points. I took notes as best I could, so these aren’t verbatim.

Will you ever be a competitor on Iron Chef America? I’m more likely to be the secret ingredient. It’s not that I’m scared, but I would get my butt so kicked.

Are the Iron Chefs given prior knowledge of the secret ingredient? About 48 hours before the competition, they are given a list of 10 possible ingredients. In Japan, the show was completely rigged. They knew the ingredient and who was going to win. They gave them a list of 3 possible ingredients, like the ones in the picture.

You mentioned in “Behind the Eats” that one of the episodes was made in your own kitchen. Which episode was it? The one about peas.

How did you start cooking? I couldn’t get dates any other way. (He went on to explain how he would prepare date meals with escalating prices, eventually ending with “The Closer.” This was a meal whose ingredients could be reassembled the following morning for breakfast. The one time he dated a girl long enough to get to that meal, she called while he was cooking it and broke up with him.)

You say that raisins are always optional in your kitchen. Why is that? No one wants to eat anything that raisins have to be in.

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget? I don’t really have one. Well, right now I’ll say paper shredder. Two pounds of fettucini in 9.3 seconds.

After his frying extravaganza, Alton was gracious enough to stay and meet those of us without VIP tickets. He signed my well-used copy of I’m Just Here for More Food, his baking cookbook. Of course, there was the requisite picture taking. Then, he and Quinn started talking about computers. He was very personable, witty, and, well, nice. It was definitely worth the drive.

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    22 Comments on “Alton Brown”

  1. Wow! Sounds like quite an adventure! I’m so envious!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. My husband and I are in the cult of Alton, too. Love him! He never misses an episode of Good Eats, and now we’ve been lured in to Feasting on Asphalt, too. Too bad it’s such a brief run.

    It must have been great to meet him. My husband’s met him once, but didn’t get to smell his fried turkey, as it were.

    Thanks for cataloging the Q&A. I’m disappointed the Japanese version was so rigged… but I guess that explains why the outcomes were always so lopsided.

    Is this too long of a comment? What’s the ettiquette? I’ve never commented before.

    So let me wrap up: Love your site, thanks for checking out ours, too, the other day. If you like cooking shows, you might try our newfound fave (for this week) Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. It’s eons better than Hell’s Kitchen and a fascinating glimpse into the restaurant biz, imho.

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  6. I am envious! Ever since I discovered him several years ago Alton Brown has become one of my heros and def the person who’s taught me the most about food.

  7. I want to thank you for your posting! It was the deciding factor on whether or not my wife and I would attempt to go see AB this year at Gaylords. We, too, found out about two weeks before and ,of course, all of the vip tickets were sold out. The seminar this year was on sugar and he made cotton candy and marshmellows. We had a great time and as you mentioned , he took questions the last 30 minutes and signed autographs for 10 mins after(more like 20). I was lucky enough to get my picture taken with him, even though my wife said it would never happen. Send me a email at and I will be happen to share it. Anyone with any information on any other of his seminars this year please let me know. My Guard unit is being deployed in Jan and I would like to see another if possible.

  8. Wow to meet Alton Brown must have been amazing! I love his show Good Eats. The most watched channel in my house is probably the Food Network. He is great and entertaining and all the while you are watching him work you are learning so much! Good eats is so fun to watch and im a bit of a newer fan (only 16 and saw my first episode 2 months ago ๐Ÿ™‚ ) i was a fan of Bill Nye “the science guy” when i was younger and my mother says they have similar traits go figure. The only thing that annoys my family is that Thusly has been burned into my vocabulary lol

  9. I met Alton in Cincinnati earlier this year, and I can echo other people’s comments about the man. He is extremely intelligent, witty, and funny in person. His shows on TV just don’t give us enough of him that way. He is very gracious to his fans, and took the time there to sign and talk to a huge line waiting for him at the Cincy Home and Garden Show. I was lucky enough to see him early in, and he signed my “I’m Just Here For More Food” book. When I came up to him, I was very nervous. When he introduced himself as “Hi, I’m Alton”, all I could say was “Hi, I’m terrified”. He laughed and said “I’m the same as I am on TV, just more well groomed”. How many personalities do you know that would care to try to make a fan more comfortable that way? I got to ask my question about sugar free brining, and took a picture with him. He made the 2 hour trip completely worth it.

  10. Diana, I’m so glad you got to meet AB. It sounds like you had as good an experience as we did. What a great guy! He was in Nashville again this summer, and I’m ashamed to say we forgot about it and missed him. I’m still kicking myself over that.

  11. Hello all!
    nice to see a site for Alton, (Ok so I don’t get out much lol) I’ve been watching Alton for years and really enjoy his approach to food. I’ve always wanted to know why… rather than just “do it this way cause I say so” so he has become a sort of “hero” if you will. I’ve always wondered how he is in real life so thats how I got here. Nice to hear he is a people person. Don’t know if he is going to be in the Seattle area anytime soon, or maybe Vancouver Canada as I would go see him if possible. Just my 2 cents worth.

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  14. My grandsons (6 & 7) LOVE AB. One day I am going to make sure they meet him in person. The oldest thinks he wants to be an Iron Chef because he love watching AB….talk about a diverse following.

  15. My grandsons (6 & 7) LOVE AB. One day I am going to make sure they meet him in person. The oldest thinks he wants to be an Iron Chef because he loves watching AB….talk about a diverse following.

  16. Wish there were tshirts here for kids…they would have to have one.

  17. Hello Alton, I’m in need of help, couldn’t find an ask how to make anything e-mail.

    I’ve got a friend who is in her final stages of a rare blood cancer. I’ve been her personal cook for 6 months now. Her diatery needs are special.

    She’s craving chocolate. I want to make her a chocolate pudding using organic cacao nibs and agava. Can’t use anything that has white flour or that is not all natural or organic. She can use organic egg whites and vanilla bean. Does anything come to mind? I need help ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you

  18. I love Alton .I am 8 yrs. old and would like to meet him. My dad was born in Alton, Illinois.

  19. it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  20. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  21. Stop hack the program!!!

  22. i an wondering if i could talk to alton brown can he send me an e-mail so i can contact him

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