American food personality Alton Crawford Walter Brown was born on July 30, 1962 in Los Angeles, California and is 5' 11'. As the creator and host of the Food Network television show Good Eats, he brings the knowledge and enthusiasm for the science of cooking and food combined with a humorous approach to television. He then created the miniseries Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves, and is the main commentator on Iron Chef America. He is also the author of several cooking how-to books and a regular contributor to Bon Appétit (which named him "Cooking Teacher of the Year" in 2004.) and Men’s Journal magazines. Atlanta magazine named him Best Food Guru.
Brown graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in drama. He began his career as a cinematographer and producer. He was director of photography on the music video for R.E.M.'s "The One I Love." He worked the steadicam on the Spike Lee film School Daze. He was dissatisfied with the quality of cooking shows then airing on American television. Not possessing the requisite knowledge as his wife DeAnna pointed out, he applied to three culinary schools. His wife promised that if he was accepted, they would move and she would support him.
In 1995, Alton was accepted to the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, graduating in 1997. He then set out to produce his own show. A poor science student in high school and college, the subject was focused on to understand the processes involved with cooking. He wrote the first episodes of Good Eats while working the grill at a restaurant in North Carolina. The couple shot demo episodes with friends at an Atlanta film company. A clip was on the Kodak website, and programming executive Matthew Stillman saw huge potential. Production started in 1999, and the show premiered on Food Network that July.
Brown lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife DeAnna, his daughter Zoey (born in 1999), a basset hound mix named Matilda (he had another that had to be put to sleep), and a green iguana named Spike, although he claims to have disposed of a nasty lizard in a Good Eats episode.
Brown loves Apple (the computer company) — he also loves the fruit, apple, according to his interview in Macworld magazine. Additionally, Brown frequently features Apple-branded computers on Good Eats, although the Apple logo is usually masked. During the Good Eats episode Going Dutch, Brown uses an Apple iPhone when talking with the power company.
Brown is a born-again Christian and a member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.
He is a connoisseur of cheese and vinegar and is also a motorcycling enthusiast, even basing an entire limited-run series around a motorcycle adventure (the aforementioned Feasting on Asphalt). He owns a 2005 BMW R 1150 RT, which he bought used from a local BMW motorcycle dealer.
Brown was a contributor to the 2005 cookbook Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs. He selected the nonprofit world hunger organization Heifer International to receive a portion of the royalties.
Brown is also a budding aviator completing his first solo on June 25, 2007 towards his private pilot certificate. He earned his private pilot certificate on June 5, 2008, and was featured in the aviation magazine AOPA Flight Training.
On November 11, 2007, Brown was the guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies as part of their guest programmer month. The films he selected were What's Up, Tiger Lily?, Closely Watched Trains, Point Blank, and Blowup.
Brown has at least two tattoos, a honeybee on his left shoulder shown on Iron Chef America, and a crossed knife and fork with the inscription "Eat to Live" that he got during the filming of Feasting on Asphalt.
Brown is an avid knife collector. In addition to his personalized line of Shun kitchen knives, in Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt he can be seen using Spyderco and Kershaw products.
He also does photography, collects art, and scuba dives.
- Steak Your Claim
- Salad Daze
- Pantry Raid I: "Use your noodle"
- American Pickle
- The Case For Butter
- Pantry Raid III: Cool Beans
- Mussel Bound
- Man with a Flan
- Three Chips for Sister Marsha
- Oat Cuisine
- Art of Darkness II
- Strawberry Sky
- Dip Madness
- Amber Waves
- Fit To Be Tied
- The Big Chili
- Buffet Maximus
- President Abraham Lincoln
- The Stranger
- B. A. Brown
- Pennsylvania Dutchman
- Roman Legionnaire
- WWII Soldier
- Gregor Mendel
- Caramel Fan
- Maj. Wilfred D. Cookie
- Conrad Van Houten
- Bearded Man
- Austin Powers
- Uncle Fred
- Grumpy Gus
- Colonel/Uncle Bob Boatwright
- Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions 2009 "Educator of the Year"
- Peabody Award 2007 for 'Good Eats' (part of cast)
- Bon Appétit "Cooking Teacher of the Year" 2004
- James Beard Foundation "Kitchenaid Book Award" 2003 for 'I'm Just Here For the Food'
Alton's favorite foods are a cheeseburger, smoked salmon, peaches, really great bread and duck confit. His favorite vegetables are actually asparagus and brussels sprouts. For dessert he prefers ice cream, chocolate (not with fruit), blackberry cobbler, cake, his wife's frozen chocolate chip cookies and pie. His favorite spice is cumin. His favorite things to cook are a fried egg, pizza, anything smoked, fried green tomatoes, waffles, and sauces. He doesn't like chicken or beef liver (duck and rabbit livers are another matter), eyes, things that are still moving, and red velvet cake.
His favorite Good Eats recipes are French onion soup, microwave applesauce, garlic chicken, rib eye steak and smoked salmon. The wierdest thing he's eaten is curried lamb eyes. Some of his favorite Good Eats episodes are 'The Dough Also Rises', 'True Brew', 'Flap Jack Do It Again', 'Bulb of the Night', 'Crepe Expectations', and 'Good Milk Gone Bad'. His least favorites are 'Use Your Noodle', 'For Whom the Cheese Melts', 'Mission Poachable', 'Fry Hard II', 'Scrap Iron Chef', and 'Strawberry Sky'.
His favorite cinematographer is Gordon Willis of 'The Godfather' fame.
A few members of his extended family have appeared in Good Eats (such as his late grandmother, Ma Mae, his mother, and daughter, Zoey, who is known on the show as "Alton's Spawn"), but most of his "family" portrayed on the series is made up of actors and the show's production crew. DeAnna Brown is the co-executive producer of Good Eats, but has never appeared on an episode. Brown also portrays his frequently-arrested evil twin brother "B.A." On the DVD release of the episode "American Pickle", Brown notes that many viewers ask him what his brother does for a living, suggesting that they are unaware that B.A. is simply the result of clever editing.
- Elizabeth Ingram Brown-Wife (m. 2018)
- DeAnna Brown - Ex-Wife (div. 2015)
- Zoey Brown - Daughter
- Mrs. Brown - Mother
- "Ma" Mae Skelton - Grandmother
TV Character "Family"
- Marsha Brown-Brady - Sister
- B.A. Brown - Brother
- Elton Brown - Nephew
- Pops - Father
- Morty Brown - Uncle
- Verna Brown - Aunt
- Jed - Uncle
- Ray Brown - Cousin
- I'm Just Here For the Food
- I'm Just Here For More Food
- Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen
- I'm Just Here For the Food: Kitchen User's Manual
- I'm Just Here For the Food: Cook's Notes
- Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run
- Good Eats: The Early Years
- Good Eats 2: The Middle Years
- 'Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical' by Anthony Bourdain
- 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austin
- 'The Refrigerator and the Universe: Understanding the Laws of Energy' by Martin Goldstein
- 'Bakewise' by Shirley O. Corriher
- 'The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen' by Michael Ruhlman
- 'Mouth Wide Open' by John and Matt Thorne
- 'West With The Night' by Beryl Markham
- 'Peace With God' by Billy Graham
- Other Appearances
- Cast & Crew
- Visual Aids