By Colarusso, Laura M.
Newsweek , Vol. 159, No. 07
Byline: Laura M. Colarusso
Tv's smartest chef, Alton Brown, is ending his blockbuster show after more than a decade. A history of his unlikely hit.
Before Giada, Guy, and Ina, there was Alton Brown. The creator and host of Good Eats, Food Network's half-hour homage to the science of cooking, helped build the channel into the behemoth it is today as one of its first stars. But now, after 13 years in the kitchen, Brown has decided to hang up his apron.
One part Monty Python and one part Julia Child, with a dash of Mr. Wizard, the Good Eats curriculum stretched beyond the dump-and-stir teaching method employed by most major TV chefs. Brown distilled complex scientific concepts through skits and a colorful array of recurring characters. "My mantra was to educate people--to actually give them the know-how they could use--and to do it in a very subversive kind of way," says Brown, a theater major who later in life went to culinary school. "I would entertain them, and I was going to teach them whether they knew it or not."
More than 250 episodes later, Brown has achieved his goal of tutoring the masses, introducing terms like "hygroscopic," "Maillard reaction," and "polyphenol oxidase" into the vocabulary of the average home cook. He was the first TV food personality to get cerebral about groceries, helping viewers get to know the properties of ingredients and how best to manipulate them for maximum taste. …