Alton Brown takes his show on the road, aiming to teach and entertain
Alton Brown isn’t going to tell you what to eat.
He’s not going to tell you which food blogs to read.
“I don’t want to be an evangelist anymore for anything other than just cook your food. Cook. Cook yourself,” he said in a telephone interview as he tours the United States with Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour. He’ll be in South Bend on Nov. 3.
Sure we eat too much processed food, he said. America’s biggest health problem shouldn’t be obesity. Too many people have to deal with food deserts where they don’t have access to healthy food.
He’ll let others evangelize about fighting those problems. “The only evangelizing I can do is make people curious enough to prepare their own food,” he said.
He’s on the road, finding good eats and doing his show. The self-described “cablebrity” is revered by fans. He’s an educator and entertainer. He is known for talking about food, but could also teach people about bow ties, airplanes and motorcycles. “People know me as a food – I don’t like the word expert – maven, or someone they can trust in that regard,” he said.
This road tour features songs, puppets and “very large and unusual culinary demonstrations,” he said.
There will be a short lecture and a question-and-answer segment fueled by Twitter. The man with a degree in theater will teach and entertain. Fans of “Good Eats,” the award-winning show that ran 13 seasons and taught food and food science in an entertaining fashion, will recognize similarities, he said.
He was a filmmaker, a guy who made commercials, when he went to culinary school and pitched an episode to Food Network. The new cable channel opted to pick it up and Brown was on his way.
Fans still miss “Good Eats” and long for that mix of entertainment and education baked together.
Brown said he misses giving viewers that. “The trend in broadcast and cable is away from that. There really isn’t any of that on television anymore,” he said.
Broadcasters follow the eyeballs and the trend is not to offer that at the moment. He offers a bit of education as he hosts “Cutthroat Kitchen,” but that’s a game show.
He looks for angles and ways to buck the trends. “I try to be original as I can be and unique as I can be and still do something good,” he said.
On social media, he uses the humor and humility that has drawn fans to him. The angles are apparent there, too. On Twitter, he posts photos of scrawled sticky notes rather than typing.
That angle is also how he takes a big food-centric variety show on the road. That’s why he’s working on a video project that is the next step in combining his blend of entertainment and education around food. “I have a much larger digital project in the works for next year,” he said.
His YouTube channel has a few videos he did in the wake of “Good Eats,” but he hasn’t posted a new one since June. His podcast, “The Alton Browncast,” went on hiatus before resuming recently. Both on a large network and in his own projects, he finds a way to both broadcast to and hear from fans.
A man stopped him on the street recently and told Brown that his life had improved by watching “Good Eats” and learning about cooking.
“What more validation do you need professionally other than to make a decent living and make peoples’ lives better? I mean that’s pretty good stuff,” Brown said.
As for being a celebrity, Brown wears it lightly. “I try to be honest. I try to be consistent. I try to be respectful. I try not to get too big for my britches,” he said, adding that when he messes up he tries to own it.
He’s excited about his visit to the Midwest.
“I think the Midwest has some pretty terrific food and I’m fairly crazy about the people,” he said, noting that he used to live in Chicago. “People don’t realize the great variety of cuisine and the variety of ingredients that are available.”
Brown is an entertainer, but he’s careful about believing in his power. He’s proud of his good work, but also committed to the craft of the kitchen.
“I still try to cook every single day,” he said. That doesn’t always work out, but the way he follows his heart and leads his fans is in the kitchen preparing food.
“Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour”
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 3
Where: Morris Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $45, $55 or $125, not including fees
You can help Alton Brown find good food in South Bend by telling him on Facebook or via Twitter. Use the hashtag #ABroadeatsIN