We watch certain food celebrities on TV constantly—constantly—for a gazillion years, and we think we know them. At least a little bit. But the truth is, we don't. We hardly know them at all, at least in the case of one person in particular: a complex, compelling, confounding person otherwise known as Alton Brown. The New York Times just profiled Brown, in connection with his upcoming book "EveryDayCook: This Time It's Personal," and we learned a few things about the pioneering food-TV star that we absolutely didn't know. Maybe you did? We're guessing not. Here goes.
1. Alton Brown hasn't voted for a Democrat since Michael Dukakis.
That was in 1988. "He is a private, politically conservative Southerner who sometimes carries a Bible and a firearm," writes New York Times reporter Kim Severson. "He is a pilot and a devoted student of film. He is the opposite of cuddly. And he is probably much smarter than you."
2. His new cookbook is a midlife crisis in print.
“It’s ‘Who the heck am I?’ time,” Brown told the Times. “I’ve spent years projecting and presenting this thing, but in the end, what am I? I thought it was important to put something on paper.”
3. Alton Brown is not actually a chef, just a TV host.
Canada-based food journalist David Sax calls Brown "the Regis Philbin of food TV." Brown "is not driven by an inherent love of food in the way some cooks are," the Times adds. But he was smart enough to attend a culinary program in the late 1990s, when food television was hitting its stride, and to land a little Food Network show called Good Eats.
4. He's also a musician, and one of his songs is called Airport Shrimp Cocktail.
The song is about "gastronomic distress," the article notes. He also plays guitar.
5. The Baptist church where Brown was baptized in 2006 tried to keep his marriage together.
But Brown's marriage to his second wife DeAnna Brown ended in divorce last year. "Mr. Brown, who said that over the years he gave a significant amount of money to the church, formally resigned from it, and he remains bitter about pressure from church leaders to fall in line," the article adds.
6. His post-divorce eating binge involved lots of peanut M&Ms.
He ate so many sweets, he gained 20 pounds.
7. Now he's a workout-a-holic.
After his weight gain, he's tended to go overboard on fitness. He told the Times: “The problem with being so skinny is now people are like, ‘How’s the chemo?' When you get older, skinny is not really your friend. You get the turkey neck.”
8. He has a recipe for Saltine crackers with mustard and hot sauce.
Do you need a recipe for that? If it's Alton's version, you do. We're sensing a trend here: The outstanding new Artists and Writers Cookbook also includes a recipe for cheese and crackers.
9. But he also makes pancakes with nitrous oxide, and has a bizarre potato chip technique.
Because life's too short for normal pancakes and chips.
10. He has strong opinions about vegetarians and gluten-free eaters.
“Unless you have a medical bracelet that says celiac, shut up and eat the food,” Brown told the Times. “We want to be so special. We not only want to be special for our cooking, we want to be special for our eating. There are times when vegetarians should shut up and eat the pork chop.”
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