Alton in Austin

by Sarah on October 22, 2011 · 9 comments

So I spent this morning with Alton Brown.

Well, “with” is a bit of a loose term I guess, as I was actually two rows and the distance between stage and floor away from him the whole time, and he never looked directly at me per se…but we were in the same room together. That counts, right?
Sir Alton* was in town as part of the Texas Book Festival
*Not to be confused with Sir Elton of “Candle in the Wind” and ‘Yes, my child is in the same playgroup as the offspring of Neil Patrick Harris’ fame.–because the great thing about book festivals is that they include all types of books, including my favorite kind: those about food!
As part of his gazillion-city book tour for Good Eats 3, Alton stopped in Austin to regale the crowd with humorous quips about his life as a chef and a Food Network star (including a mock interaction between him and Chef Morimoto should they ever face each other on Iron Chef America).Because I happen to be dating someone whose path into the culinary world was opened by an Alton-inspired revelation that cooking = science, I was a part of the crowd gathered outside over an hour before what turned out to be mostly “Q&A with Alton.”
I must say, that although I have learned a lot from Alton Brown (including the need for uncooked chickpeas to make falafel, and the easiest pie crust recipe ever*), I’ve never been an all-out Alton obsessee.

*In a strange twist of fate, the filling for that cherry pie was inspired by Gesine Bullock-Prado…who also happened to be at the book festival (see below). Weird.
But I like him a whole lot more now that he cracked me up with jokes about the potential for a new Food Network show involving pythons eating Guy Fieri and the way he wooed woman with cooking in college.Spoiler Alert: The Next Food Network Star is going to be SO much more awesome next season because he revealed he is a permanent judge! [And that his goal is “to make sure there aren’t any new Food Network Stars.]

Another cool thing about book festivals?
There’s often a cooking tent.
Interestingly enough, this cooking tent was sponsored by my place of employment.

You might recognize that man in the photos above (and below) as Hugh Acheson…whom, to be perfectly honest, I know nothing about except he was on Top Chef Masters and a judge on Top Chef, and is from the South, so therefore I love him, regardless of anything else.Because I was in the right place at the right time (and probably because I make friends easily) I was the one who helped put that sign in the “kitchen window.” And then I got to dance with Hugh for a second while he joked about needing to ‘liven up the crowd.’ And he shook my hand. And now he knows my name.*

*The fact that he wouldn’t remember it if he saw me again is neither here nor there.

So that was fun.


Because this is the Vegan Month of Food, I am now highly attuned to ‘my vegan life’ and of course had to look for some sort of VeganMoFo takeaway from this event—and not just that I couldn’t eat from any of the trailers present at the festival, and was happy I packed a Carrot Cake Larabar and two apples (just in case we got hungry)…or that the man in front of us in line turned out to have beena vegan for 10 years.*
*Vegans: They’re Everywhere You Want to Be.

Instead, I really liked something Alton said during his Q&A about “owning up to sweetness.” He talked about losing 50 pounds, and how after getting rid of the constant sugar in his life, he ate better and felt better and was no longer driven my artificial sweeteners and whatnot.

The same thing has happened to be during this month of veganism. I’m not sure why, because I wasn’t a suga-holic to begin with, but perhaps just bringing even MORE veggies and a lot more unprocessed grains into my diet, I’ve reduced the sugar cravings that used to strike around 3 or 4 every day. Usually I ate an apple or something, not an entire pack of M&Ms…but still.

So, the VeganMoFo, Alton-spired lesson of today? Own up to the sugar!*

*But I’m sorry, Mr. Brown, I will still put stevia in my coffee in the morning, and every now and then I am going to have to drink a Diet Coke.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria October 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

This is awesome. I love Alton and every single recipe of his that I've tried has been amazing. His chocolate chip cookie recipe The Big Chewy" will always be my go-to.

Brandon saw him speak at Google a few years ago and said the same thing: he loved him much more in person than on his show.


Lauren October 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

How fun!! I am very jealous :)


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table October 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

It was Atlanta day in Austin! Hugh's newest restaurant is literally 3 blocks from my house. It's soooo good too – specially brunch. AND Alton live just north of the city and tapes at the local WF a lot.

All of this to say it's a sign you should come eat with me in ATL sometime. 😉

P.S. Did you hear who the celeb chef is at FoodBuzz??? #icannotwait


Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean October 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

so so jealous. he is awesome!


Fran@Broken Cookies Don't Count October 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

That looks like great fun!


Tricia @ Saving room for dessert October 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

See! You ALWAYS go to the fun stuff! Nice one. OK you have to try Truvia in your coffee. Much much better :)


Allison October 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I had no idea this was going on Austin. I totally missed out, but I've been sick anyway. Congrats on getting to see Alton so close!


Mary @ Bites and Bliss October 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm



Jess@atasteofconfidence October 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Ah so jealous I love him. I only have the first book, really want the second and third!


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