If you’re offered a poncho, take the poncho!

Alton Brown to make appearance (and a bit of a mess) at Schuster Center

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Alton Brown will bring his unique flavor of food-related humor to The Schuster Performing Arts Center Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.; photo: David Allen

You know him. You love him. I, personally, blame him for a harried, half-day trek into the bleak Ohio-in-November weather in search of a 40-quart stockpot after my husband heard him on NPR describing how much better, scientifically, brining a Thanksgiving turkey is than any other method, an episode that also brought the term “spatchcocking” into my home. He’s a cooking teacher, he’s a food guru, he’s a self-described culinary loner – he’s Alton Brown!

After more than a decade of helping us out with the likes of his television shows (“Good Eats” and “Iron Chef America”) and books (“I’m Just Here for the Food” and “Feasting on Asphalt”), Brown is now making his way around the country with his show “Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour.” During a short break in his touring schedule, the award-winning Brown took the time to discuss his new live show with DCP.

How is your live show different from your television shows?

These are all things no one will let me do on TV. I’m doing very large, very not-practical-for-home-cooks food demonstrations that are fascinating and extremely entertaining, but not the kind of thing Food Network would ever let me do because they had to be practical for people at home. There are a lot of puppets. There are videotaped pieces. There’s stand-up; well, there’s a mini-lecture that is actually a kind of failed disguise for a stand-up routine. And me and my band get to do six or seven of my food songs, which is a lot of fun because they’re funny. Well, I think they’re funny. As long as I’m laughing, somebody will laugh with me. – Alton Brown

So these demos are not something your audience members are going to run home and try for themselves.

I’m doing a couple of food demos no one could do. [laughs] Well, you could, you could do it, if you were willing to dedicate your garage and a lot of tools and compressed gasses and Class 5 lasers. They’re not practical for day-to-day cooking, but fascinating from a scientific standpoint. In one of the demonstrations, we make a gallon of chocolate ice cream in 10 seconds. It’s interesting. – AB

Sounds messy. Should audience members dress accordingly?

We do have one demonstration that tends to generate airborne particulate matter, so we supply the front two rows with rain ponchos just to protect clothing. But other than that, you’re fine. If you’re in the front couple of rows and we offer you ponchos, take the freaking poncho! That’s all I have to say about that. – AB

Why do you think your show is so successful? What are you offering audiences that they have been craving?

Two hours of a good time. No, that’s it. I got nothing else but two hours of a good time. My only desire at the end of the experience is for people to leave the theater and say, “Wow! That was great! I’m glad we did that.” I’m giving them a variety show, which is something people don’t do that much of anymore. It’s a little bit of everything, and it’s a lot of some things. I can’t explain why it’s fun or good. I know most of the projects I’ve done in my life that were good, that did resonate with audiences, were just me doing what I want to do and doing what I felt I ought to do and doing what entertains me. I guess it’s kind of like hosting a party. If you host a party for yourself and you’re good at it, other people are going to come to the party. […] I don’t know any other way to work. If nothing else, I’m authentic because I’m not manipulating or doing anything in order to do business. I’d like to think I’m an artist, and I’m going to do the work I’m going to do and hopefully it finds an audience. And it will serve that audience, and I will make sure that that audience gets every bit of their money’s worth. We work our butts off for that two-hour show to make sure people are entertained. – AB

Does that exhaust you?

Quite honestly, it does not. I’ve worked in television so long, and that is an environment where the camera basically sucks your soul straight out of your eyes and you don’t get anything back from it. Audiences, good audiences, give more than they take, so you actually leave with a surplus of energy. I actually have a really hard time coming down after the show because the audience gives so much energy and so much good will and, dare I say, love. I can see how people get addicted to this. – AB

I’ve heard you have your Nobel acceptance speech ready and in your wallet?

I’m expecting the food category to be generated soon, so I’m hoping to be the first recipient for the Nobel Food Prize. I’ve got it all worked out, all ready to go. I’m just waiting for the call. – AB


“Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour” takes place at 8 p.m on Monday, Feb. 10 at the Schuster Performing Arts Center, 1 W. Second St. The performance is two hours and recommended for ages 6 and up. Tickets are $30-$50 and are available in person at the Ticket Center Stage box office, by phone at 937.228.3630 or online at TicketCenterStage.com. For more on Alton Brown, please visit AltonBrown.com.


Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com


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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com or through her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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