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An Evening with Alton Brown – Austin Texas style

October 17, 2010

Be prepared..it’s long !

We attended an Evening with Alton Brown hosted by the Texas Book Festival and Central Market Cooking School last night in Austin.  It was a packed house in a vacated retail building with a huge line down the strip center and around the building for those who couldn’t get in and were hoping for a brief moment with AB to get their book signed. We weren’t first this year like last, but by the time the evening came to a halt….we almost were! More on that later.

Last year’s autographing for Good Eats: The Early Years was a generic autographing, and had this  year’s been the same, we were resigned not to make the trip this year.  But once we found out it was going to be a ‘talk and Q&A session’ we were on the road. There was no great fanfare..he kind of snuck into the room and just started. He said that he rarely gets to just talk at most of his appearances on book tours, so he wanted to do a Q&A session for the night.  It was the most fun. He was affable, engaging, looked pleased to be there, in really good spirits and good health (no, he’s not sick!) and was gracious with his answers to those questions he’s been asked a million times before. Here are a few highlights from the evening:

yeah..caught way too many with his eyes closed

On Children’s Books  – AB recently told an online chat that he was currently reading Harry Potter at his daughter’s request. My 10yo was so excited by that (after asking AB about Phineas & Ferb last year and finding out he watched with his daughter, too – AB is at the top of C’s cool adults category) and wanted to ask him what he thought of the books so far, but he was a bit awestruck and couldn’t ask, so I asked for him.  AB said…I think of money! turn the page..money..more money…more money…..grumble grumble why didn’t I think of that. Then he went on to say how he is currently in the process of writing a children’s book and when asking his daughter about that kind of stuff, she recommended HP, and he was enjoying it. Later, when my 7yo got to stand up and ask a question about AB doing a kids’ cooking show, (more on that in a minute), AB went on to say he is writing a book..it’s a fiction book in which the characters are learning about cooking. That’ll be something Aiden is going to LOVE! No more details on it other than that, but AB seemed pretty excited about it. Then snuck in that it was going to be located in…Hogscook….yeah…that’s right…

For Aiden’s  Kid’s Show question – at first he wanted to ask if AB knew Godzilla..we assured him that he probably didn’t “KNOW” him but surely watched him a lot as he was growing and reminded him of the Tempura puppet monster in the Tempura show. That appeased him, then he wanted to ask if AB would do a kid show. So, the question evolved into, “Are you going to make a kids cooking show?” AB’s reply..you mean to how to cook kids? Laughter erupted, and the look on Aiden’s face was priceless….he just did not understand the answer or why everyone was laughing at him, and he was stunned.  AB went on to tease about a how to cook kid cookbook to leave on the coffee table to keep your kids in line..you know, Timmy, you’ve had a pretty bad  report card…point to the cookbook, or Thanksgiving is coming and we’re pretty strapped, Timmy…so…the laughter kept coming and Aiden kept turning around to look at me not understanding it at all, and thinking AB was just making fun of him. It was a great bit of comedy on AB’s part, but I was kind of sad for Aiden who thought his culinary hero was making fun of him. Later in the evening, he poked my leg and gave me his really grumpy look. I asked what was wrong and he just pointed to AB and said he was still mad at him. He was just so embarrassed. I hugged him. Russ explained the joke a little later to Aiden, who still wasn’t really buying it, but all was forgiven as he approached AB with his book to be signed with huge smiles and AB was really great with him..and they were buds again. This morning he’s still a bit burned that he thinks AB was making fun of him, but we talked more and he’s good! But I have to say..it was hilarious.


On Iron Chef – he forgets episodes as soon as they are done filming – sort of like cramming for an exam. Once you’ve performed all the information..it just kind of leaves him. He thinks Morimoto’s accent might be a bit affected (jokingly so), and thinks Mark Dacascos, who plays the chairman, is a fun and lovable guy…and likes to play tricks with AB (like pinching his bum to get him to laugh while filming NIC, and AB having to keep from laughing on film whole stomping on his foot to get him to quit).


On Good Eats –  He hasn’t committed, that I’ve seen, that there are new Good Eats coming (it’s contract renewal time),  but he did say he wanted to do a game show (venison, etc.) and he wants to try to talk FN into, but he didn’t think they’d go for it because they are NY’ers..and they’re still very squeamish about killing Bambi. AB isn’t squeamish about it…well, maybe not Bambi..but Bambi’s mother..you bet! There’s been no real confirmation if GE is going to extend into more seasons or not, but we’re hoping he’s not quite done, though we know he’s feeling that it’s just about run it’s course.

He also shared that once editing is done and the show is sent to NY for approval, he never watches them again. He said “What point is there, for me, to watch and see mistakes that I can’t fix now.”  He also said that he doesn’t even flinch anymore if he’s surfing and runs across GE. He just doesn’t watch it.

When asked what other FN shows could we watch to get sound cooking instruction (and his face got that snarky look that he’s famous for when you KNOW he couldn’t answer the question the way he wanted to answer that question)….and said….Good Eats reruns…..then watch Good Eats DVDs…then turn off the TV (expecting a small rant about stop watching cooking shows and just get in the kitchen and cook!)…..then read Good Eats books. He said that you have to acknowledge that FN isn’t about cooking..it’s about entertainment. The demographic for FN is about people who want to be entertained.

On More Feasting on Asphalt… When asked why he skipped TX in the FOA series, he said that he actually wanted to do Feasting on Texas next, but since FN gave his concept away to Guy Fieri, no more FOA were coming at this point. He’s said in the past if we really wanted more FOA, that we needed to be writing FN to request them specifically, but Guy pretty much had the market on the things with FN. He wasn’t even the least bit sarcastic about that situation at all (can you read MY sarcasm?). We got our copy of FOA signed by AB..and he told me…oh good..this is my favorite one.


On Desserts – admitting once again that desserts were his big downfall (he says he has a wicked sweet tooth), and he generally doesn’t partake any longer, but ice cream is the one he’d have if he could never have another. He’s developed a recipe for a bourbon molasses buttermilk ice cream with bacon that he looked giddy about and said it was really good (might this show up on a future GE?)

On Education – he’s always amazed that those classes that he flunked in high school and college now want him back to lecture. You do know you flunked me in your class, right?! How is that a good role model?!??!

On his faith – AB stood there  and proclaimed “I am a Christian”. In an industry that expects people to keep quiet about their Christian beliefs, it was great to see AB stand up and proclaim it in such a way as to not be haughty or holier than thou or be like me, but to explain his process and why it matters to him.  HERE is a great article that came out just after we got back with more on this.


On late bedtimes for children: As he ended the Q&A session..he was giving some guidelines on how to make the autographing session go more smoothly, the last point being folks with little ones get to come first so that you can get them home and put them to bed! Seeing as we had a 3.5 hour trip home as soon as this was over, we were overjoyed! So instead of being out near 11 or later as we’d feared, we were out and in our car and on the road at 8:18. (hard to believe the Q&A wasn’t more than 30 min because it seemed to go on forever!) AB told Russ that it was the least he could do!

From the boys:

Russ’ Comments: On his Facebook this morning:  Had a fun time in Austin Saturday hanging with the family going to see Alton Brown. He talked a lot to us and had some good Iron Chef inside stories and was VERY cool about the autographing session by having all the families with kids come up first so we could get the wee ones home to bed. (and I’ll add that he had a great time, too…laughed tons and was happy we’d made the trip!)

Connor’s Comments:  I really liked getting to meet Alton again! And he answered my question!

Aiden’s Comments: I’m still mad. <big cheesy grin>

Other Alton Brown Book Signing posts you might be interested in:

Hangin’ with Alton (Good Eats 1: The Early Year Book Tour, Austin, Texas 2009)

Alton Brown visits Big D (Good Eats 3: The Final Years Book  Tour signing in Dallas / Frisco, Texas)

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