By ROB DUGUAY There's a case to be made that Alton Brown has been the most important figure in the cooking show world over the past 25 years. He is widely known from his successful series "Good Eats," which originally aired on the Food Network from 1999
There’s a case to be made that Alton Brown has been the most important figure in the cooking show world over the past 25 years.
He is widely known from his successful series “Good Eats,” which originally aired on the Food Network from 1999 to 2011 and experienced a revival from 2019 to this past July. That program put a different, analytical spin on the cooking show format by covering all the bases, ranging from the history of the food on each episode to different techniques to get the best result of a particular dish.
He’s also hosted the miniseries “Feasting on Asphalt” and “Feasting on Waves” and the competition shows “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
Now, as part of his “Beyond The Eats Tour,” Brown will be taking the stage at the Providence Performing Arts Center, located at 220 Weybosset St. in the capital city, on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
We recently had a talk about his film career prior to “Good Eats,” the state of cooking shows in 2021, being tired of the competitions and his love for Rhode Island cuisine.
ROB DUGUAY: Before you got into cooking and being a food presenter on TV, you were a cinematographer after studying film at the University of Georgia. You were actually the cinematographer for the music video for R.E.M.’s “The One I Love.” What made you initially want to study and pursue that field?
ALTON BROWN: Well, I was a cameraman really before I was anything else. I shot TV news back when I was only 19 or 20, and after the R.E.M. thing I directed and shot commercials for nearly 10 years. Honestly, I don’t know when the switch flipped for me on that.
RD: How much did your experience in cinematography go into the vision for “Good Eats” when you were creating the show during the late ’90s?
AB: The style and look of “Good Eats” is completely influenced by my time behind the camera. Since I directed over 200 episodes of “Good Eats,” I would say I’m still behind the camera. I’m just in front of it, too.
RD: Last time you were in Providence, you were indulging in Allie’s Donuts, and you even claimed that a New York System wiener and fries with a coffee milk is better than certain fine dining restaurants. What is it about Rhode Island cuisine that you enjoy so much?
AB: I am so looking forward to returning to Olneyville New York System, just wanted to say that. You know, Rhode Island is like an actual culinary island in a way. It’s got its flavors and traditions and you have to go there to experience them. I love it there, certainly in Providence, where I’ve spent most of my time.
RD: The past decade or so has seen cooking shows go to YouTube, with “Binging with Babish” having the host putting his own spin on the art form and “First We Feast” having an entire YouTube channel devoted to it. From being in the industry for over 20 years, what are your thoughts on how cooking shows and food-centric shows have evolved?
AB: All the exciting stuff is either on steaming or in places like YouTube. Mainstream cable is nothing but competitions and honestly, I’m bored to death with it.
RD: What can folks expect from “Beyond the Eats” at PPAC?
AB: I’ve always said that my live shows are about stuff I could never do on TV. We sing silly food songs, attempt comedy and execute large, potentially dangerous and completely impractical demonstrations. “Beyond the Eats” is more of that, but because I’ve decided this will be my farewell tour, there’s some real emotion, too, at least for me.
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