Alton Brown is juggling a lot of plates: In addition to his Edible Inevitable tour, which he's bringing to Richmond Feb. 11, he's working on recipes for a new book and a new show, as well as his wicked game show, Cutthroat Kitchen.
That's a lot for one chef/science geek/TV personality to keep in the air, but Brown does it all with his quirky brand of humor.
But be warned: The live tour, which is coming to Eastern Kentucky University's Center for the Arts on Feb. 11, isn't your normal cooking show. Billed as featuring "large, potentially dangerous and impractical cooking demonstrations," it's definitely "don't try this at home" material.
"It is my variety show. It is designed as a live, culinary variety show," Brown said in an interview. "It has got everything that a variety show should have: audience participation, comedy, puppets, live music ... I'm actually performing some of my food songs, which I think are funny. And there are two very large, very unusual and potentially dangerous food demonstrations, the likes of which human eyes have never beheld."
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Brown's legion of fans won't be shocked to learn that "one of them sometimes makes a mess, which is why we give the first few rows rain ponchos. I can't control everything ... but trust me, if you come, you will see things done with food that human beings simply have not ever seen done before," he promised. "Trust me on this."
Brown also selects assistants from the audience to help him on stage.
"At the end, they will eat what we make," he said.
The food demos explain everyday phenomena but aren't things the average cook can pull off, he said, "unless you have $100,000, a big garage, time and good welding skills."
If that sounds like his Good Eats shtick but amped way up, you're not wrong. On Good Eats, his Food Network show that ran for 14 years before he called it quits a few years ago so he would have time for these other endeavors, Brown disdained expensive single-use kitchen gadgets, often showing how they could be replaced with stuff from the hardware store.
And for fans who miss the show, Brown has some good news: "I'm doing another solo instructional show, in the spirit of Good Eats."
This as yet unnamed show will be Internet-only and launch later this year, Brown said. "It's going to be much easier for me to make my fans happy digitally than the last time I did it. ... I'm relaunching for the new world."
Does Brown's kitchen craftiness ever go wrong?
Yes and no.
"People always want to think I've leveled whole city blocks, but I haven't," he said. "I've messed up my food as much as others ... overcooked it, left out the salt."
But sometimes the mistakes lead you to much better outcomes, Brown said.
"I just finished writing up a recipe. I'm obsessed with French onion soup. And I decided I wanted to re-attack it," Brown said. Except he made a mistake, misread the label on a package.
"And that turned out to be the key," Brown said. That version will be in his new book, coming out in the fall, on his real life recipes.
"It's going to be about the food I actually cook and eat every day, not food I come up with for TV," he said. "Kind of Alton Brown unplugged. Not necessary pretty, but gosh-darn tasty."