Over the last 18 months, a generation of young cooks entered the kitchen as novices and began perfecting skills in bread-making, baking and cooking. For one celebrity chef, the at-home DIY spirit was just the start of what’s to come—and the main reason he’s getting back on the road now.
Almost as soon as quarantine went into effect, Food Network star Alton Brown and his wife Elizabeth Ingram began connecting with fans virtually, going live on YouTube once per week while making dinner. That weekly dinner turned into the show Quarantine Quitchen (also known as “QQ”), which quickly gathered a fanbase all its own.
On Monday, Brown brings his 30+ years of experience to San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts for “Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats.” The show is one of Brown’s specialties: a live culinary variety show, bringing the science, heat and satisfaction of the kitchen to novice cooks and expert chefs alike—now with the additional spice of his and Ingram’s work on Quarantine Quitchen.
According to Brown, the show that has become a “sleeper hit” was originally only meant to be a joyful time with his wife. Now, however, he looks forward to translating that joy live on tour.
“I think some of [QQ’s popularity] will be coming with us because Elizabeth is in the show,” he said, noting his wife plays bass live in the show. “She’s garnered quite a few fans who will no doubt be in the front few rows. That’s a new and unexpected development.”
After nearly two years off the road, Brown is happy to be back creating a flavorful blend of science, comedy and creativity on stage in a show he was busy working on from his home-base in Marietta, GA throughout the pandemic.
Another thing that kept him busy the last year and half, and helped him to prepare for tour? Two words:
Beyond simply being a classic drink, the martinis might have been a somewhat necessary preparation for the road ahead, as Brown shared with Metro that he’s both terrified and exhilarated by the chance to be back on the road again. Prior to the pandemic, Brown had become known for his live culinary reality show tours, including “Eat Your Science” and “Edible Inevitable.” While touring may look slightly different now, he says he’s desperate to reconnect with the people that helped make him a household name—all while being as safe as can be.
“It is a not-so-brave new world out there and dealing with Covid responsibly is going to be a full-time job,” he says, cautiously. “That said, I can’t wait.”
Though the couple didn’t have much time off during the pandemic, Brown is excited by what he learned at home, including one fact he had previously overlooked: that his wife is a great cook. He admits it was “kinda embarrassing” not to have realized that prior to quarantine, but believes everyone has been learning a lot in their own homes lately.
“I think more people are cooking than ever before, and I think a lot of people have discovered online sources for great ingredients, like frozen, sustainable seafood from Alaska,” Brown said. “People are cooking more ‘staged’ dishes that require multiple steps taken over a longer chunk of time—sourdough baking being a prime example.”
While many new chefs focused on perfecting their own culinary prowess during quarantine, Brown is sure that fans will still enjoy experiencing his expert balance of culinary creativity and live entertainment on his tour. And though he isn’t giving away any surprises, he does hint that this year he’ll have “something completely new that…I can’t talk about.”
Nonetheless, fans at CPA can expect everything Brown has become known for: “goofy food songs, storytelling, and strange and often large food demonstrations.”
And, of course, after a year and a half of quarantine, this cook already has the oven on, warming up for what’s to come next.
“I’m carving some twists and turns into the road ahead,” he says.
Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats
Mon, 7:30pm, $43+
Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose