Born on July 30, 1962, Alton Brown worked in film production for a decade before going to culinary school and creating Good Eats, which led to a successful career as a celebrity chef, best-selling author and Food Network star.
Chef, author and reality TV star Alton Brown was born on July 30, 1962, in Los Angeles, California, to parents from rural Georgia. Brown left California and moved to Georgia with his family when he was 7. His father, the publisher and editor of the local newspaper, committed suicide, and his mother remarried.
Brown later said that he developed his cooking skills by watching his mother and grandmother in the kitchen. He also said that he learned to cook "as a way to get dates" in college.
After studying film in the University of Georgia drama department, Brown worked as a cinematographer and video director. He was director of photography for the video of R.E.M.'s song "The One I Love." He has said that he spent all of his time between takes on the set watching cooking shows and he felt he could do a better job. Through his work in film and television production, he met DeAnna Collins, who he later married.
With the idea of eventually starting his own cooking show, Brown moved to Montpelier, Vermont, to train at the New England Culinary Institute.
"One day, back in the summer of 1992, I decided I wanted to make a television food show. I wasn't going to let the fact that I was little more than a hobbyist cook get in the way," Brown wrote in his book Good Eats: The Early Years.
Combining humor, science and history, Good Eats relied on Brown's nerdy personality and his passion for cooking. He said the show was inspired by the unlikely duo of Julia Child and Monty Python. The pilot for Brown's cooking show aired on Chicago's WTTW in 1998 before being picked up by the Food Network in 1999. That same year, Brown's wife gave birth to their daughter, Zoey.
Over the years, Good Eats became one of the cable network's most successful and respected shows, winning both a Peabody Award and a James Beard Award. NPR called Good Eats, which Brown wrote, directed and produced, a "mini-documentary about food."
Brown is the author of several books, including I'm Just Here for the Food, which won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Cookbook, and was one of the best-selling cookbooks of 2002.
Since 2008, Brown has been a spokesperson for Welch's grape juice, appearing in television commercials. He has also appeared in videos promoting salt, funded by food giant Cargill. "Salt is a pretty amazing compound," Brown pronounces in the video called Salt 101. "So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times."
In 2011, after 13 years and 250 episodes, Brown decided to end production of Good Eats, which he announced on Twitter. His relationship with Food Network continues, as he signed a three-year contract to develop future projects. Brown is also a regular commentator on Iron Chef America and co-host/judge of the reality TV series The Next Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen.
Brown, who lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and daughter, is also an avid motorcyclist. His fourth book, Feasting on Asphalt, published in 2008, chronicled his motorcycle trip from New Orleans to Minnesota. It was turned into an original series for the Food Network. In a review of the series, The New York Times referred to Brown an "intermittently charming food guru."
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