Alton Crawford Brown Jr.
July 30, 1962
|DeAnna Brown (1994-2015)|
Elizabeth Ingram (m. 2018)
Alton Crawford Brown Jr. (born July 30, 1962) is an American television personality, food show presenter, chef, author, actor, cinematographer, and musician. He is the creator and host of the Food Network television show Good Eats that ran for 14 seasons, host of the miniseries Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves, and host and main commentator on Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen. Brown is a best-selling author of several books on food and cooking. A recap series titled "Good Eats Reloaded" aired on Cooking Channel starting in October 2018, and a true sequel series, Good Eats: The Return, premiered on August 25, 2019, on Food Network.
Alton Brown was born July 30, 1962, in Los Angeles, California. As a child, Brown was a Boy Scout. Brown's father, Alton Brown Sr., was a media executive in Cleveland, Georgia; owner of radio station WRWH; and publisher of the newspaper White County News. He died on Alton's last day of sixth grade from an apparent suicide. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, after studying film at the University of Georgia, Brown was the cinematographer for several music videos, including "The One I Love" by R.E.M.
Brown was dissatisfied with the quality of cooking shows airing on American television, so he set out to produce his own show. In preparation, he enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute, graduating in 1997. Brown says he was a poor science student in high school and college, but he focused on the subject to understand the underlying processes of cooking. He is outspoken in his shows about his dislike of single-purpose kitchen utensils and equipment such as garlic presses and margarita machines, although he adapts a few traditionally single-purpose devices, such as rice cookers and melon ballers, into multipurpose tools.
The pilot for Good Eats first aired in July 1998 on the PBS member TV station WTTW in Chicago. Food Network picked up the show in July 1999. Many of the Good Eats episodes feature Brown building makeshift cooking devices in order to point out that many of the devices sold at conventional "cooking" stores are simply fancified hardware store items. Good Eats was nominated for the Best TV Food Journalism Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2000. The show was also awarded a 2006 Peabody Award. In May 2011, Alton Brown announced an end to Good Eats after 14 seasons. The final episode, "Turn on the Dark", aired February 10, 2012.
On Alton's 2017 book tour, he stated that Good Eats would have a sequel and that it would be released to the internet in 2018. This was changed in late 2018 when Brown made arrangements with The Cooking Channel to air "revised" versions of several episodes with new recipes entitled Good Eats Reloaded, in which he stated new episodes of Good Eats are also in the works. Thirteen episodes of Good Eats Reloaded aired late winter and early spring 2019, and were added to the Good Eats reruns on The Cooking Channel. It was announced on June 5, 2019, that the new show would be called Good Eats Returns; it premiered on the Food Network with the slightly-revised title Good Eats: The Return on Sunday, August 25.
Brown relaunched the show in two versions: as Good Eats Reloaded on Cooking Channel (which updates, reworks and adds to original Good Eats episodes), and on Food Network as Good Eats: The Return in August 2019 (all-new episodes). Both the Reloaded series and the Return series are said to be returning in 2020. New episodes of Reloaded premiered in April 2020. New Return episodes were in the writing process and planned to be filming over the summer of 2020, but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[failed verification] These episodes eventually saw release, initially as an exclusive on the new Discovery+ streaming service. In June 2021, the episodes premiered on Food Network as a companion to the Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets tournament. On July 13, 2021, Brown announced that Good Eats: The Return would not be returning for a third season.
In 2004, Brown appeared on Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters. This was the second attempt to adapt the Japanese cooking show Iron Chef to American television (the first being UPN's Iron Chef USA, which featured William Shatner). Brown served as the expert commentator, a modified version of the role played by Dr. Yukio Hattori in the original show. When the show became a series, Brown began serving as the play-by-play announcer, with Kevin Brauch as kitchen reporter. Brown also served as the host for all five seasons of the spin-off The Next Iron Chef.
Brown's third series, Feasting on Asphalt, explores the history of eating on the move. Brown and his crew traveled around the United States via motorcycle in a four-part miniseries about the history of road food. Brown samples food all along his travel route. He includes a "history of food" segment documenting famous road trips and interviews many of the foodies he meets en route.
The series premiered on Food Network on July 29, 2006. The miniseries was picked up for a second run, Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run, in 2007. Six episodes were filmed during April and May 2007. The episodes trace the majority of the length of the Mississippi River through Brown's travels. The second run of episodes began airing on Food Network on August 4, 2007. The third season uses the title Feasting on Waves and has Brown traveling the Caribbean by boat in search of local cuisine.
In 2013, Brown began hosting the cooking competition series Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network. In each episode, four chefs are each given $25,000 with which to bid on items that can be used to hinder their opponents' cooking, such as confiscating ingredients or forcing them to use unorthodox tools and equipment. Three chefs are eliminated one by one, and the winner keeps his/her unspent money as the day's prize. The series premiered on August 11, 2013.
In October 2013, Brown launched Alton Brown Live: The Edible Inevitable Tour, his first national tour visiting 46 cities through March 2014. The show included stand-up comedy, talk show antics, a multimedia lecture, live music and "extreme" food experimentation. After a hiatus of several months while Brown worked on his Food Network shows, the tour resumed in October 2014 and concluded on April 4, 2015, in Houston, Texas, after visiting more than 60 cities.
Brown mounted a second tour show, Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science, in 2016. The show toured through the fall of 2017. All totaled, Brown's shows have played over 225 dates including Broadway. Both his tours have included "large, unusual and probably dangerous" food demonstrations, audience participation and even food songs performed by Brown and his combo. Brown has been quoted as saying his final tour will launch in fall of 2020.
Brown is the recipient of two James Beard Awards. He won the Best Book award in 2003 for his first book, I'm Just Here for the Food, and the Broadcast Media Award in 2011 for TV Food Personality/Host. He has also been nominated four additional times.
Brown served as a mentor on Season 8 of The Next Food Network Star alongside Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. During Season 8, each mentor selected and mentored a team of five finalists. Alton's finalist, Justin Warner, was the Season 8 winner; however, Brown will not be producing Warner's show.
Brown appeared on episode 196 of MythBusters titled "Food Fables".
Brown has done commercial work for General Electric products, including five infomercials touting the benefits of GE refrigerators, washers and dryers, water purifiers, Trivection ovens, and dishwashers. The infomercials are produced in the Good Eats style, employing the use of unusual camera angles, informational text, props, visual aids, scientific explanations, and the same method of delivery. These infomercials are distributed to wholesale distributors of appliances/plumbing devices.
Brown has also aided GE in developing a new type of oven. He was initially called by GE to help their engineers learn more about the effects of heat on food; that grew into an active cooperation to develop GE's Trivection oven.
Brown has promoted Colgate toothpaste, Dannon yogurt, Welch's, Shun knives, and Heifer International. In 2010, he endorsed kosher salt use in a campaign for Cargill. In 2020, he began doing commercials for Healthy Choice's line of low-fat, low-calorie, vegetable-based "Power Dressings",
In 2012, Brown gained popularity by pioneering the use of humorous "Analog Tweets", wherein he posts pictures of hand-drawn Twitter responses on Post-it notes which he has stuck to his computer monitor.
On June 28, 2013, Alton Brown joined the Nerdist Podcast Network with his podcast The Alton Browncast, covering food news, men's style, music and other topics. Through February 15, 2017, 68 episodes have been produced.
Pantry Raid was a series of once-weekly shorts (usually released on Fridays or Saturdays) for making palatable foods while staying safe at home. The episodes were filmed in the Good Eats test kitchens at Brain Food Productions, and consist of Alton and a cameraman as the only personnel onsite.
Quarantine Quitchen [aka "QQ"] started as a single livestream titled "The Browns Make Dinner", referring to Alton and his wife Elizabeth making dinner at their loft apartment in Georgia. After the success of the first such "episode", the once-weekly series is now released live every Tuesday.
Brown lives in Marietta, Georgia. He and his former wife DeAnna, an executive producer on Good Eats, divorced in 2015. DeAnna and Alton have one daughter, Zoey (born in 1999). A few members of his extended family appeared on Good Eats (such as his late grandmother, Ma Mae, his mother, and daughter, Zoey, who is known on the show as "Alton's Spawn"), but most of his "family" portrayed on the series were actors or members of the show's production crew.
Brown and Atlanta restaurant designer Elizabeth Ingram became engaged in 2018. According to Brown's Instagram account, as of September 2018, he and Ingram had married, on a boat in Charleston, South Carolina. Brown and Elizabeth Ingram have two dogs: a terrier named Francis Luther and a Boston terrier/pug mix that the couple rescued in 2018 named Scabigail Van Buren, affectionately nicknamed "Scabs"; Scabs has also made a few appearances on the new episodes of Good Eats.
In the fifth episode of Season 18 of Worst Cooks in America, Brown referred to his current wife as his third wife.
Brown was once a motorcycling enthusiast, although he no longer owns one. He gave up motorcycling by 2012, citing issues of slowing reflexes and safety. In a recent Quarantine Quitchen episode, Brown stated that he currently owns a 1980 BMW R60. Additionally, Brown is an airplane pilot, and was featured in the aviation magazine AOPA Flight Training. He owned two planes, a Cessna 206 and a Cessna 414.
Brown enjoys vintage watches and wore a different watch for every season of Good Eats; this was used in production to quickly identify which season a clip is from. When his watch broke down midseason,[which?] he continued to wear the broken timepiece to maintain this system. Twenty years after the Omega Seamaster watch his father left him was stolen, Brown bought it from an eBay seller and had it restored.
Brown changed his eating habits in 2009 in order to lose weight and become healthier, losing 50 pounds (23 kg) over the course of nine months.
Brown discussed his Christian beliefs in a 2010 interview with Eater. He said at the time:
I'm not a spooky snake handler because I live in Georgia and I'm Christian ... that I believe in the Bible, that I travel with the Bible, that I read the Bible every day. I'm still me. I'm still a guy doing a job. I find, actually, that people ask me a lot about it. I don't hit people over the head with the Bible ... I still feel a funny little tinge in my stomach when I'm out to dinner with my wife and daughter in New York. We'll go to dinner and we'll be sitting around the table and we'll say grace. You know what? People are going to stare at you. I used to feel really self-conscious. But I've gotten to a point where I think, nah, I'm not going to feel bad about that. I'm not going to apologize about that.
Brown said in a December 2014 interview in Time that he "could no longer abide the Southern Baptist Convention's indoctrination of children and its anti-gay stance" adding that he is now "searching for a new belief system."
In November 2020, Brown declared on Twitter that he has almost always voted Republican, but that he supported Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, as well as Democrats running in U.S. Senate races in Georgia.
In November 2020, Brown drew backlash for a tweet that flippantly referenced the Holocaust. In the now deleted tweet, he posted, "do you think the camp uniforms will be striped, like the ones at Auschwitz, or will plaid be in vogue?" He subsequently commented that he has "no gold fillings" in an apparent reference to the Nazi's practice of extracting the gold teeth from their victim. He apologized the next day, saying on his social media, "It was not a reference I made for humorous effect but rather to reflect how deeply frightened I am for our country. It was a very poor use of judgement and in poor taste."