Crushing Bones with Alton Brown

Crushing Bones with Alton Brown

The host of Good Eats divulges his next big career moves

Alton Brown not only represents the food geek in all of us, he revels in it. He’s best known for Good Eats, his long-running Food Network show that blends cooking, science, history, and punny prop comedy to demystify ingredients, techniques, and gear. He also announces the detailed play-by-play on Iron Chef America. With his Feasting on Asphalt miniseries he leads a motorcycle-mounted film crew on cinematic, cross-country tours of American road food; he’s currently shooting his third Feasting. CHOW caught up with Brown during his recent visit to Chicago. Louisa Chu

I’ve heard that the next Feasting on Asphalt is not going to be on asphalt at all, but that it’s now Feasting on Waves. Where are you going and how?

We’re going to be down in the Caribbean on catamarans and scuba diving, too. I’m fascinated by the convergence of cultures there. It really can be considered the birthplace of American cuisine.

Your new book, Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run, looks like it was actually your personal journal of the road trip from the TV show. How much of it was really things you collected on the road?

It really was my journal. I was hoping to scan a lot of the notes I’d taken, but they were just too worn or faded to be legible. Instead they just created a font out of my handwriting and used that instead.

Are you serious about Feasting in Air and Space?

It is my sincere hope to do a Feasting in Air and Space. I’m currently working on getting my pilot’s license. I could have had it by now, but I’m busy doing all this other stuff. And we have Good Eats fans in NASA, so I do believe this is a distinct possibility. The [Food] Network just loves it when I talk about doing stuff like this.

Congratulations on re-signing with Food Network for three more years. What’s going on with Good Eats?

I’m just happy to be employed. I don’t take anything for granted. We just finished shooting some episodes in February. Then we’ll go back to shoot more later this year.

Are you going to be involved in the new Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine game for Wii and Nintendo DS?

Yes! I’m going in to record for it in July. I’ll be playing myself.

I’ve also read that you’re planning on addressing some of the big food issues. How are you going to do that?

One of the things I’ll be doing is hosting the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainable seafood event [Cooking for Solutions] in May. It’s a challenge to address food issues and make it entertaining, but I’m looking forward to it. As my daughter [Zoey, eight years old] gets older it’s increasingly important to me to illuminate issues.

What’s your go-to meal?

The food I cook at home is very, very simple. I bought my wife a panini press. Don’t ask me which one. I just went in and asked for the most expensive one. Hey, it was a gift for my wife! I think it’s a Krups. So now we take Cornish hens and butterfly them. We lay them out flat and cook them in the panini press. It’s really fast, and there’s something very gratifying about crushing those bones. So now when we need a fast meal at home, it’s: “Quick, somebody get me some Cornish hens!”

In homage to James Lipton’s questionnaire on Inside the Actors Studio, what’s your favorite curse word?

“Oh bother.” I’m from the South.

Louisa Chu is a chef and food writer who’s cooked her way through the world’s hottest kitchens, from El Bulli to Alinea. And yeah, that’s her taking Anthony Bourdain on the Paris meat market tour in No Reservations on the Travel Channel. Louisa can currently be seen in Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie on PBS—and always found on her own food blog, Movable Feast.

Photo-illustration by Sean McCabe