As a result of his new Food Network game show series Cutthroat Kitchen, celebrity chef, author and actor Alton Brown has had an unusual problem, as alluded to in his Jan. 8 Twitter post: "The guy on #Cutthroat Kitchen is a role I play, & hopefully one you can enjoy. If you want to see me, watch Good Eats. #ThereISaidIt."
In a phone interview from his home in Marietta, Ga., the 51-year-old Brown explains that people have been upset. "'You're such a nice guy,'" he says they tell him.
"In TV, when people think they know you, and then you throw, you know, Captain Jack Sparrow at them ... "
A comparison to the soul-bartering Pirates of the Caribbean villain-protagonist may be a little extreme, but Cutthroat Kitchen is a slightly evil competition. Three chefs battle to produce the best dishes to win up to $25,000, while Brown encourages them to instead use chunks of that money to sabotage one another. In a Season 1 episode last fall, one chef purchased the right to replace all of another's Thanksgiving dinner-prep cooking utensils with a Swiss Army knife. (She worked what magic she could with the mini-tool, but still lost.)
It is indeed a very different Brown who created and hosted the Peabody Award-winning science-based cooking show Good Eats, which had a 13-year Food Network run. Or who has hosted Iron Chef America for 10 years.
He's wants to assure people, though, that the Brown of his Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour, his first-ever live cross-country show, is "essentially me. It's very much personal."
The all-ages touring event is based on the variety shows he grew up watching and loving, particularly the 1970s Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Brown explains. It consists of about 90 minutes of original live music — "There's a punk rock song about Easy Bake Ovens" and a country crooner about "love gone bad" called "Airport Shrimp Cocktail" — video, puppetry, audience participation and comedic acts.
Also on the slate are large food demos, which is why audience members in select seats in the first few rows of the Pikes Peak Center will be provided ponchos. There might be some "airborne particulate matter," Brown says matter-of-factly.
(By the way, if you have the capability and want to try to replicate some of his live-show experiments at home, he won't dissuade you, but he does make the comment: "Stupid is as stupid does.")
Brown hopes audience members will walk away from the evening mostly just having had fun, but he adds that folks might pick up a little knowledge, scientific or otherwise, helpful to their own culinary attempts.
Which begs a final question: What's your favorite cooking tip these days?
His instant answer: "Taste your food." If you don't taste your food all the way through the cooking process, he says, "it's like driving with your eyes closed."