Funny man and culinary badass Alton Brown has always been one to connect to people. While on TV and on stage with his down to earth approach, Alton has never been known to follow the rulebooks. But why should he? Instead of throwing fancy French cooking techniques at you, he explains everything in easy-to-digest dialogue that allows the average cook to follow along.
During his college years (U. of Georgia), Alton describes his cooking as “crappy.” He, as well as a lot of us guys in college, was out looking for girls. “What I was trying to do was cook enough to impress girls. Girls would not pay attention to me if I asked them out. They said no; I didn’t have any money so I was like ‘You know what? I wonder how they would feel if I cooked for them?'”
Spoon: Where do you suggest anyone our age that doesn’t necessarily know how to cook to start learning?
AB: You know, I swear I would just go to the library and get a couple of old Julia Cookbooks or something and just cook out of one book for a while. The problem in this day and age, there’s so many bad recipes on the internet. The thing I actually did that was probably the smartest thing in college was I learned how to cook eggs. You can bake them, fry them, roast them, poach them, almost anything to them.
Spoon: What are some of your favorite food publications that you regularly read?
AB: You know, I like Bon Appétit from the 80’s because the truth is there aren’t that many recipes, they all just get recycled. I really like the magazine Saveur because it also teaches you about cultures, which is a really great thing. And if you really want to understand cooking, Cook’s Illustrated.
Spoon: In this day and age, my generation (millennials) have access to various forms of media. How do you think this influences American and the future of food media?
AB: I can’t possibly begin to answer because I’m concerned that you don’t value media. The reason you don’t value media is because you want everything for free. I don’t think your generation knows crap about the value of things. Sorry it’s absolutely true. You maybe the exception, but I even have trouble hiring millennials to work with me. They want everything given to them; they’re used to getting it all for free.
Spoon: When you were in college, what did you want to be?
AB: I was going to be a film director. I realized I didn’t like the stories, so I quit my job and went to culinary school and made food shows. Everyone thought I was out of my frickin’ mind. Look, I don’t care if you go to college to major in something. It shouldn’t be about education, it should be about who you are. It’s funny because people say I want to do this, and I don’t care, you’re not a precious snowflake. That’s one thing that Fight Club got right, you are not a precious snowflake, what it’s about is your ability.
A photo posted by Alton Brown (@altonbrown) on Aug 16, 2014 at 7:19am PDT
Spoon: What do you suggest every college student do before graduating?
AB: You mean other than get laid? (laughing) I would travel abroad, I can’t begin to tell you how important I think travel is. To just taste things, smell things, hear things, read things.
Spoon: Do you want to say anything to your college-aged fans?
AB: My whole world changed because of one piece of pizza. What really changed my life was the person that I got to talk to who made that, what their life surmounted to. Food is a switchboard, it connects people unlike anything that can happen in a college or university environment. 90% of us that do anything worth a damn in life had no idea what we were going to do in college.
A photo posted by Alton Brown (@altonbrown) on Jul 27, 2014 at 9:32am PDT
Everybody is so frickin’ stressed out about I’ve got to get this job. Screw that! Make mistakes, screw up! The other thing, and maybe biggest thing I would say is don’t get in debt. I know more people that their lives have become slavery to student loans than anything else. Quit, I would quit before I would get in debt. Every decision you make during your life should be flexible and adaptable, if not you become a slave.
Spoon: What are some of things you think every college student should keep around?
AB: I managed to keep certain things around by beg, borrowing, and stealing. In the fridge, I would always have eggs, butter, and something green and herby. I always would have hummus, you can eat it with anything. I think the other thing is a decent hunk of cheese and some wine. If you’re old enough to drink, hell why not?
Spoon: Favorite food to eat?
AB: Fried chicken.
Spoon: Favorite food to cook?
AB: Eggs, perfect omelets still give me amazing joy.
Spoon: Favorite cocktail?
AB: My favorite cocktail is the Boulavardier. Which is basically a negroni with bourbon instead of gin.
Spoon: Favorite beer?
Spoon: What do you do to unwind after a long day?
AB: (laughing) A Boulavardier. I don’t unwind real well, I guess you could say the thing I do to unwind is cook.
Spoon: Favorite restaurant since you’ve been to on tour?
AB: That’s easy, Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines, IA. It’s the most perfect restaurant I think I’ve ever been to in my life. It is a 1950’s style Chinese take out joint that turned itself into a pizzeria and tiki bar.
In case you want more of AB, check out these links: