Review: Celebrity cook Alton Brown shares culinary regrets and rejected game show idea in return to Tampa

Before "Good Eats" came around, Brown pitched "Eat This," a game show revolving around food trivia and knowledge.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOSH BRADLEY
Photo by Josh Bradley
A nearly three-hour show with intermission, signed posters selling for $10, and original, food-related songs. No, a secret “Weird Al” Yankovic concert was not held Wednesday night at Tampa’s Straz Center.

Celebrity chef—ahem, cook, Alton Brown—isn’t doing any television at the moment, so he has taken his three-piece band (which now includes wife Elizabeth Ingram), lab coats, and outrageous props, on his third, full-scale tour the U.S. This leg of the 59-year-old’s possible farewell “Beyond The Eats” tour kicked off at the Straz Center, which isn’t much of a surprise, considering Brown’s longtime Georgia residency.

We're thinking Brown and Ingram didn't regret spending a few extra days in Tampa getting the show ready either.
Brown entered the stage a little after 7:30 p.m., wearing an open suit and tie, with a 1961 Telecaster strapped around him. Brown had apparently written a theme song for the tour, that centered around how he was told as a child that being a cook would bring shame on his family—and yet look what happened. “Thank you for coming back to live theater,” he acknowledged right after.

On "Good Eats," Brown was the Bill Nye the Science Guy of cooking: A family-friendly, bowtie-donning, semi-goofball, who knew his way about working smarter and not harder. (i.e: If you throw a popcorn kernel into some oil you’re bringing up to heat and it pops, said oil is hot enough to fry shit in. You’re welcome.) But onstage, not only is he that, but he’s a man of many regrets—most of them relating to food. Sitting in a swivel chair, he went through an actual “rolodex of regrets,” and picked out his favorites. There was the time he posted a Crock Pot lasagna that got 81 one-star reviews (one of which said that it presented them with a perfect opportunity to eat cereal for dinner.). There was also the time he mistakenly made s’mores for his family out of his visiting aunt’s Ex-Lax chocolate he found.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOSH BRADLEY
Photo by Josh Bradley
Brown spent a solid half-hour spouting useless information about s’mores, too. “Boy Scouts never did anything but take out each other’s eyes out with BB guns and arrows. The Girl Scouts gave us s’mores!” He rambled, before taking an awkward turn toward the s’more’s sandwiching ingredient. Apparently, graham crackers—invented by Reverend Sylvester Graham, were dreamt up to quell sexual urges. “So, when you get home tonight…” Brown joked, “I don't think there are any graham crackers in The Villages.”

Another regret had to do with a previous show idea.

Before "Good Eats" came around, Brown pitched "Eat This," a game show revolving around food trivia and knowledge—from multiple choice questions, to interactive, "Price Is Right"-style games, “They told me, ‘Food, competition…I just don’t see it!’” So in a matter of seconds, Brown’s crew brought out host and contestant podiums for three fans who had excelled at quizzes on his website: A retiree, a third-grade teacher, and a paralegal who loves baking.

“Baking, the dark arts!” Brown joked. “Some are Hufflepuff, but most bakers are Slytherin!” In the end, the third-grade teacher won the game show, mainly because she knocked her grocery shopping-based game out of the park, and was awarded a signed tour program before the show went into intermission.

During the second act, photography was strictly prohibited, and I'm assuming that talking too much about it is as well. Brown warned us early on that act two was “top secret,” so let’s just say that it included wings, hot sauce, and an outrageous contraption that only Alton Brown would utilize.

You need to see the show for yourself to get the full scoop. He’s making appearances all across Florida for the next week, so there’s no excuse not to take a drive. Well, maybe there is, but that’s another show.

About The Author

Josh Bradley

Josh Bradley is Creative Loafing Tampa's resident live music freak. He started freelancing with the paper in 2020 at the age of 18, and has since covered, announced, and previewed numerous live shows in Tampa Bay, even as the live music industry continues to get back on its feet.
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