Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with one of my favorite Food Network personalities, Alton Brown. It would be a conversation filled with laughs and tales of his roots, transitioning from filmmaking to enrolling in culinary school. More importantly, we discussed his new show Cutthroat Kitchen and The Edible Inevitable Tour, a one-of-its-kind live event which Alton promises will be something you’ve never experienced before.
Very few tickets are available for this week’s show (2/21) at the Providence Performing Arts Center so my advice is to take a look at what’s left to ensure a seat for Friday’s antics. From what I gathered on the phone with Alton, you won’t be disappointed. Click the jump for my full interview.
Chris: Will fans of Good Eats enjoy your live show? Are there any connections or parallels to Good Eats to when you’re on stage?
Alton: If you are a Good Eats fan, you will most assuredly like the Edible Inevitable Tour. It is not Good Eats live but it is from the same DNA. You would not be able to look at this show and not see the bones of Good Eats. At least that’s what I think.
C: As a teenager I loved watching Good Eats and always made connections to shows I grew up with like Bill Nye The Science Guy and Beakman’s World.
A: Of course, of course, Mr. Wizard, that whole vibe. And that was done on purpose.
C: Which is great, because more than anything Good Eats made cooking fun, educational and approachable. So many blessings to you on taking that route.
A: (laughter) Glad to hear it.
C: Now before Good Eats, you were behind the camera as a filmmaker and you even helped out on the set of some R.E.M. music videos. That’s pretty awesome.
A: (laughter) Yes, that was back in the 80’s.
C: What triggered the itch to go from behind the camera to culinary school in Vermont?
A: I was watching a lot of food shows. I was a hobbyist, a cook and professional filmmaker. And I got the feeling “You know what? These could be better. These are boring. I can make a better show than this.” But I needed to go to culinary school to get the background that I needed to even get to do that. So I quit my job and went to school for 2 years.
C: While in Vermont, did you ever get a chance to explore New England and visit Providence?
A: I’ve actually never been to Providence, RI but I am going to soak up as much of the town as I can because of what my friends have said. There’s a great culinary school there. I’m going to spend a day adventuring it no matter what the weather throws at me. But school was so intense, I barely got out of Vermont to be honest with you.
C: Looking back on the TV shows you’ve done, what would you say has been your favorite?
A: Good Eats is my baby. It’s like my child. I wrote it. I directed it. It was my life for 15 years. My desire was to change food television and to do something that no one has ever done before and I feel like we accomplished that. Far and away it is Good Eats. It’s on my tombstone.
C: Now talk about your newest show, Cutthroat Kitchen. It’s getting some serious buzz.
A: You know what? It’s so freaking fun. I wanted to make a game show. Not a competition, but a game show. It’s diabolically clever. Huge fun to make. From my experiences, 9 times out of 10 if I enjoy the show, so will the audience.
C: What do you think is the X-Factor on that show that separates it from the rest?
A: You know, it’s not a simple show. There’s a lot going on in it. This show has both the option element and seeing the sabotages unfold. It’s not a show about being mean to each other but a show of people betting on their own skills and watching how they get through it. I actually learn a lot. I’ve actually learned and tried more things by watching Cutthroat Kitchen than Iron Chef America. It’s all about problem solving and people really respond to the way different personalities interact on the show. And they love to see what we come up with. It’s just fun.
C: What’s one piece of kitchen equipment you simply can’t do without?
A: I can’t function without Spring-loaded tongs. It’s your hands. It just comes from spending a lot time in restaurants. Let me put it this way, I take them on vacation.
C: So without giving too much away, what can one expect to see on the Edible Inevitable Tour?
A: You will see puppets. You will see culinary demonstrations of unusual size and subject. One involves extreme cold and the other involves extreme heat and both involve volunteers. I’ll also bring out my guitar and play some songs from my upcoming food song CD. Which are hopefully funny and entertaining.
C: In three words, describe The Edible Inevitable Tour.
A: Culinary Variety Show
C: In three words, describe hanging out with Bourdain in Atlanta for his show, The Layover.
A: Probably Causing Trouble
C: Have a good one Alton! Good luck the rest of the way.
A: Thanks very much man. Bye.