Alton Brown, "Iron Chef" host and well-known food television personality, is taking his brand of quirky humor and culinary science on the road with "Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour." Brown will make a stop at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, N.Y. -- about an hour northwest of the Berkshires -- on Thursday for a show he describes as a culinary variety show on its second tour leg of 26 cities.
The tour promises to be a Brown-inspired combination of stand-up comedy, talk-show antics, multimedia lecture, live music and food experimentation -- on a larger-than-your-average-kitchen scale. Audience members will also be chosen and given lab coats as culinary assistants to Brown.
Recently named Best Food TV Personality at The Munchies, Brown -- who is also known for his show "Good Eats," which ran for 13 straight years on Food Network before making the jump to Cooking Channel -- recently spoke on the phone from a tour stop in Daton, Ohio, with Features Editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh about his tour, why audience members may require ponchos during the show and what kind of romance he'll be cooking in the kitchen on Valentine's Day.
LH: Tell me a little about the show -- some insider tips for readers thinking about going.
AB: This type of show is not something that actually exists, so I've had to come up with a way to describe it. I like to call it a culinary variety show. I was a big fan of TV variety shows in the ‘70s -- things like ‘Sonny and Cher' -- where you get a musical number, a comedy number and a skit. The show is like that format, but all around food. There are puppets, food songs and large and very strange food demos. It's a packed two hours of food-centric family entertainment.
LH: It seems like this tour is a culmination of your career so far. Is that accurate?
AB: I would say it is the next logical step, rather than a culmination. I have a college degree in theater, and I always wanted to remove the camera and just be there with the audience. It's another step along the way.
LH: How is touring different than being a TV personality on the set?
AB: It's very different. These are much larger crowds and I get to do some singing. In TV you also can do a take until its perfect and then you move on. Now, it has to be perfect every night, and every show, theater and audience presents a whole different set of challenges. And there's also living on a bus ...
LH:How has the weather been treating you and the crew while you've been on the road?
AB: Last week we got off the buses in Colorado and it was 26 below. We saw solid walls of snow for three days, and I don't think I'd seen the sky for a week. I know people say it's cold [in the Northeast] but when you get out in the Plains, that's a different kind of cold. I'm looking forward to warmer weather in New England (laughs).
LH: Tell me about this ‘poncho zone' at the show:
AB: (Laughs) One of the demos does create airborne particulate matter and it doesn't always act the same at every show. So, we provide ponchos to the first two rows. I don't want to give too much away, but it is quite sticky and well, I don't want any angry audience members, or their dry-cleaning bills.
LH: I read in your bio that your interest in food was sparked in college when you found out that girls who said ‘no' to dates sometimes said ‘yes' if you offered to cook for them. So you're no stranger to cooking and romance. What's your suggestion for a romantic Valentine's Day meal?
AB: First, in the ‘80s I had a horrible social life, and I did find that if I offered to cook the girls would be intrigued and maybe say yes. That being said, I have to say my default Valentine's Day dinner is breakfast. Rich, decadent scrambled eggs, maybe with a steak and champagne.
AB: What's sexier than breakfast in bed? I'm a man ... you know, breakfast, in ... well, there you go. Also, the last thing I want to do on Valentine's Day is go out to eat, it's too crazy. So instead, try a nice plate of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, a little caviar on top and toast points. That's the perfect romantic dinner if you ask me.
LH: What do you want audience members to take away from your tour? What do you want them to leave saying?
AB: No.1 first and foremost -- actually, this is also No. 2 and No. 3 -- that they walk out of there and say, ‘Man, that was a fun night.' It would be great too if they said, ‘Wow, I didn't know about that.' I like to think that everything I do is laced with an educational component, but this show is also really about having a good time. Listen, we have a song about getting food poisoning and a punk rock song about an Easy Bake oven. It would be great if I can get a family with a couple of kids to all say what a great time they had together. If that happens, my work here is done.