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Alton Brown

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  1. Thanks for noticing all the camera work...i'm kinda proud of that. I do it because...well, everyone that works on the show (on the TV side) has done serious time in commercials and movies and we tend to treat every episode of Good Eats like a little movie. I direct them just as I did commercials...heavy on composition...and I've got a really great DP who does amazing things with light...really amazing. As for gear, all our cameras are DVcam. The fridge shots are done on high end consumer camcorders and everthing else is done with either "prosumer" or professional cameras...but we master everything on mini DVs. .
  2. Well, the downside is, I just can't work fast enough to keep up with it all and still do a good job. The upside is that I'm employed for the rest of the year guaranteed.
  3. Well, the truth is...I don't get to test that much stuff. Manufacturers do send us stuff to test but all too often it's not the stuff that you really want to get your hands on. I do not have an infinite budget at all which is why we really study and read and examine before we spend. Sometimes this leads to a lot of wasted money. Lately the problem has been electric fryers. I endorsed their use in a recent show and soon after we shot the episode, the fryers died. At this point I can't say that there's a single consumer-market fryer worth the stainless it's stamped from. The DeLongi completely crapped out and the folks at that company are completely uninterested in hearing our story. We've got a Warring on the way and have high hopes, but I have to tell you, 70 percent of the kitchen gear on the market is garbage. Of the remaining 30 percent I'd say that only 50 percent deserves a place in the modern American kitchen. It's very discouraging. The problem is that while some manufacturers seem only to compete with themselves (the good ones that is) most can only do battle by attempting to monopolize shelf space. They do this by adding "SKUs", that is they just make more and more product then do everything they can (dealmaking-wise) to push other makers’ goods off the shelf. Retailers like Wallmart make the situation worse (in my opinion) by driving companies to make things cheaper and cheaper. The constant need to expand forces even great companies to occasionally make crap. That’s sad too, because it means you can’t buy on brand and know that you’re getting the goods. This is all starting to depress me, and I haven’t even answered your question.
  4. I feel your pain...getting used to a convection oven...no matter how wonderful they can be, can be a pain. The best book I've seen on the subject was published by the folks at Sunset Magazine and is called, appropriately: Sunset Convection Oven Cookbook. I just checked Amazon.com and they carry it.
  5. Cut up the duck and steam it for about 15 minutes to render out some of the fat...otherwise you'll have a fireball on your hands.
  6. Here's the thing about the late nite "miracle" kitchen tools. They're all so darned specialized (read: unitasker) they're usually cheaply made and well...crap. Cooks Illustrated published an article about a year back concerning a series of tests run on "infomercial" cooking tools and their results echo my own experiences...Although you occasionally come across interesting designs, by and large it's all just so much...crap. But that's just my opinion.
  7. My research coordinator and I read (or try to read) just about everything about food science from professional journals to books to papers published on the internet. We also talk to a lot of people who specialize in fields from yeast to meat, dairy science to fish breeding. As for translating the information to illustrations that work on TV, that's usually my doing. It is in fact, my only real talent. I'm sorry that I can't give a list of publications...there are just so many.
  8. I usually just grill my dough, flip it, put on the toppings, and slap on the cover until done...this works on either gas or charcoal. I like high heat across the board.
  9. The chemistry of matching cigars to bevs is complex. I smoke a wide range of sticks but my drink options usually stick to: hot tea, bourbon, red wine.
  10. Katie, Believe it or not, just such a show is on the table for next season. If your research offer is a serious one, drop me a line at altonbrown@hotmail.com. A
  11. Cool. You know I live in Georgia and it gets pretty hot down here. I've actually baked biscuits in my mail box (not a very good result I might add) but I've never tried cooking in the car. The yogurt idea is a darned good one. But somehow I doubt that the powers that be at Food Network would let me gobble an entire half hour on the subject. But clearly, further experimentation is merited.
  12. On gadgets: I actually use all this stuff and enjoy doing so. I’m not looking for ways to “fill up my time”. I may not be a creative genius but I don’t have to resort to stupid appliance tricks to get my job done. Why then the “rigs”? I’m a hacker at heart and I like finding different ways of doing things because in doing so, I find new ways of examining the job at hand. Do I really expect every one of my viewers to bolt a pasta roller to an ironing board? No, but I do bolt a pasta roller to an ironing board and I find it’s a darned good way to work. Ditto the bagel cutter. Turkey fryers are bad. If you don’t believe me ask Underwriter’s Lab…they’ll tell you. So will Consumers Reports or any Emergency room technician.
  13. I've cooked on and in a lot of shiny metal boxes and I have to say I like a gas cook top and an electric convection oven....hands down. I just wish I had two ovens at home which I don't.
  14. I get asked this one a lot and I never have a good answer. The script writing process for a set of shows (6-8 eps) can take a month or two and each show eats up two and a half days (average) of production time. Then there's a day of editing each...then voice overs and color correction and music and sound mixing...there's just no way to tell. I will tell you that by the time it's all said and done, 3.5 months can pass from the first stroke of the pen to the delivery of the last master tapes. But that's really a guess on my part. it could be as little as 3. This is all because I'm slow...
  15. Funny you should mention this because I've been wanting to do a pet food show for some time. Maybe now would be a good time to pitch it to the network. I can't really see any of the other shows doing it. Then again, imagine an Iron Chef episode where all the judges were dogs? Hmmm.
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