Good Eats (1999– )

TV Series  -   -  Documentary
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Pop culture, comedy, and plain good eating: host Alton Brown explores the origins of ingredients, decodes culinary customs and presents food and equipment trends. Punctuated by unusual ... See full summary »

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 Himself - Host (254 episodes, 1999-2012)
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Pop culture, comedy, and plain good eating: host Alton Brown explores the origins of ingredients, decodes culinary customs and presents food and equipment trends. Punctuated by unusual interludes, simple preparations and unconventional discussions, he'll bring you food in its finest and funniest form. Written by Anonymous

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7 July 1999 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Vickie Eng (aka W) is a licensed chiropractor. See more »

Quotes

[Proposes sending a joke gift to fellow TV cook show host Emeril Lagasse]
Alton Brown: Listen, here it is, okay? We're going to send the Ginsus to Emeril, right? But on the little 'From' thing, the label, we'll say it's from the Iron Chefs.
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Referenced in South Park: Crème Fraiche (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Good Eats. Great show.
17 July 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

I avoid the Food Network like the plague. Whether it's the melodramatics of Iron Chef or especially the vastly overrated Emeril, I just can't get into the shows. I don't even like Rachael Ray and her obsession with "EVOO" (extra virgin olive oil). All of these shows have a fatal flaw to me. They're into hoity-toity foods with fancy ingredients that I'll never buy. I had to turn Emeril off after five minutes because he was so annoying. Don't get me started on Unwrapped. While that show can be informative at times, host Marc Summers probably doesn't know the first thing about his show's topics. His only connection to food is that he's a greasy ham. Good Eats, however, is a horse of a whole different color.

I was hooked from the day I happened upon an episode of Good Eats. Until then, I hadn't really watched any cooking shows since The Galloping Gourmet and The French Chef back in the 1970s. Creator and host Alton Brown looks like he really enjoys cooking, like Graham Kerr and Julia Child did, rather than just showing off in the kitchen. He doesn't try to get you to buy overpriced cookware or utensils, simply whatever works best for whichever purpose, whether it's the cheapest kitchen shears or something that's not even normally found in any kitchen. For instance, he once described how to build a smoker from a cardboard box and some odds and ends. His recipes are often basic and rather than trying to combine ingredients in a way never before seen (the way other cooks do), he may, for instance, just spend a show telling you how to make perfect pan-fried chicken (my introduction to the show). He's more interested in how something will taste than in the aesthetics of the dish. He doesn't instruct you to do something simply because that's how he was taught to do it. AB tells you the actual science behind each decision, much like Harold McGee's book "On Food and Cooking," explaining it in layman's terms but never talking down to the audience. Better yet, when he's wrong, he'll admit it on a later show, mocking himself in the process. (Maybe I'll get on his case for saying 2% milk is whole milk that's had 98% of its fat removed.) AB often gives guidelines instead of immutable lists, as for the types of ingredients in a marinade, so you can choose your own ingredients instead of just following his recipe.

Unlike other cooking shows, Good Eats actually has a varied cast of supporting characters. No, not like Emeril's live band. These people usually have pertinent information to impart. There is often a food anthropologist or a food science consultant. Cameo appearances by real life butchers, food vendors and sales associates at various stores and supermarkets. Occasionally actors playing food ingredients, government officials and agents, French chefs, even fake Brown family members, who are sometimes there to support the story. (Yes, unlike other cooking shows, each episode is usually couched in a story and is not just a visual recipe.) And, of course, the irascible "W," the kitchenware salesperson who verbally fences with AB while telling him the essentials of choosing the cookware or utensil he needs that day.

The show is also not stuck in a studio kitchen with a live audience. That tends to become quite boring with the same, old camera angles and self-congratulatory applause and is the hallmark of a show that doesn't want to spend any money. Good Eats often ventures outside to various locales. Even when he's in his kitchen set, AB will use unusual methods to show the viewer information, from writing on pull-down screens, charts and windows to playing with toys to point of view shots from inside the oven.

Alton himself - forever clad in loud, untucked shirts - brings an everyman's charm to the show. He's the kind of guy you might want over not only for a casual dinner party (cooking and eating it), but someone you wouldn't mind sitting around and shooting the non-cooking-related breeze with. He's willing to indulge in self-deprecating humor and look like a fool but still have fun in the process. I wouldn't be surprised if he was once a class clown. That's a big difference from the stone-faced stiff named Emeril, whose only gimmicky trademark is "Bam! Kick it up a notch!" No wonder Emeril's "sitcom," if you want to call it that, bombed quickly.

If you love cooking, learning, eating or just being entertained, Good Eats is the show for you. With apologies to Alka Seltzer, "Try it, you'll like it!"


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