I hope to learn enough to realize I know nothing at all. Then maybe I’ll be able to snatch a pebble from Julia Child’s hand.
-Alton Brown, I’m Just Here For The Food: Food + Heat = Cooking
The epigraph for today’s [Citation Needed] comes from one of the very few books I have read cover to cover on multiple occasions (full disclosure: multiple multiple occasions). I have taken it with me to almost every house, dorm, or apartment that I have lived in since I was 19. I’ve read it on a box, with a fox and under a tree barefoot like a 16 year old girl discovering Jane Austen for the first time. It’s more than just a book to me. I’ve taken it overseas, used it to win arguments, and blow the minds of those who would scoff at the idea of meatloaf being a magnum opus conducted at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people have Vonnegut, others Palahnuik. The author that penned my young adulthood was Alton Brown.
Years before I bought his cook book, I knew Alton from “Good Eats.” I used to watch it whenever I had the chance. This was before TiVo, smart phones, the rise of the machines etc. I remember being so enthralled by his scientific approach to cooking. Learning about gluten before it went mainstream really gave me a jump start on adolescence. “Good Eats” wasn’t a two camera/studio kitchen job. It was a classroom. A classroom where, in under 30 minutes, Alton would teach you about the history of garlic, instruct on its applications and vanquish a vampire. Sometimes, there were sock puppets. The kooky nature of the program combined with its fascinating trivia and applicable instructions really resonated with me. It still does. Like a Pixar movie, “Good Eats” spanned all genres and age demographics. It was something special and definitely sparked my interest in cooking at a young age.
Just over a year ago, Alton gave an awesomely entertaining interview with the Nerdist Podcast. Now, he has joined forces with Nerdist and has a podcast of his own. If you like food or food culture, The Alton Browncast is well worth your time. Alton has always been very interactive with his fanbase on Twitter and is definitely one of the more positive forces in social media. He pushes things to the next level by taking calls on the air and by using his Twitter page as a base for podcast content. In a recent episode, he used twitter to take suggestions for weirdly good food combinations (mostly cheese + [noun]) and then tried the combinations out on air. What was really cool about this segment was he then applied his knowledge of flavor profiles to explain WHY the taste combinations worked (or didn’t).
When done poorly, podcasts are just a way to remain relevant in between projects. When done right, they not only satiate a fanbase but add something to the dialogue. The Alton Browncast is definitely the latter. Hearing Alton talk about the industry and the company that he has been with for so long is actually pretty fascinating. Alton remains informative in everything he touches. I really look forward to seeing where this podcast goes. I hope he continues to get new and varied people to interview. Usually, his guests work for Food Network or have competed on a Food Network show. I enjoy listening to these people talk about their craft in a comfortable, non-cable network environment. Just like how it was interesting to listen to Alton Brown talk to Chris Hardwick about his love of Omega watches and airplanes, it was fascinating to hear Bobby Flay talk to Alton about his childhood and passion for horse racing. By taking food celebrities out of the kitchen and into the padded room above Alton’s garage, we are relieved to find that cooks, chefs and network heads are real people.
With several tv shows, books, and now a podcast, Alton has mastered multimedia and uses it in a way that continues to delight, educate, and enthrall his fanbase. In many ways, Alton Brown fills the vacuum left by the now extinct archetype of the reliable news anchor who so stalwartly carried previous generations. At some point, I’d like to dig deeper into the implications of this vis-à-vis the pop-culture landscape
but that’s another show. He’s not smug or false. He appears on quite a few Food Network shows but, unlike a lot of people who find themselves in/around reality TV, he doesn’t exude that unsettling, almost feral need to be on camera. I trust him. I want him to keep doing things. Keep teaching us. Keep making life a little more interesting.
 There are no uni-taskers in my kitchen!
 (Delicious) Spoilers: Red wine vinegar. Life changing.
 Garvey men are notorious late bloomers.
 I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the excellent camera work and Mr. Brown’s background as a cinematophrapher. Look at this link that isn’t Wikipedia.
 Twitter can be a buffet of nightmares and Alton has dealt with it great in the past. http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/2011/08/05/alton-brown-leaves-twitter-after-two-months/
 Nerdist Podcast Ep. 250; Alton Browncast Ep. 2.
 Murrow, Cronkite, Brokaw. Institutions that millenials like myself don’t really comprehend.