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Kris Brown

Kris Brown

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Alton Brown's "Good Eats" (Food 1999-2012) made the antic blond Southerner one of the Food Network's most visible personalities in its early days, as recognizable as Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay. The series, which Brown wrote, directed and produced as well as starring in, was one of the first cooking shows to find an audience as interested in the show's humor (showcased in large-scale model demonstrations of scientific properties as well as physical gags and one-liners) as in the recipes. Although his Southern roots were a major part of both his TV persona and his cooking style, Alton Brown was born in Los Angeles on July 30, 1962. His Georgia-born parents moved back home when Alton was 7, when his father took a job running the local newspaper in his old hometown. Brown's father committed suicide when Alton was 9, and from that point he was largely raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents. He first learned how to cook in his grandmother's kitchen; much later, she appeared in several early episodes of "Good Eats." Brown moved to Athens in the early 1980s to study film at the University of Georgia. While there, he occasionally shot videos for the college town's thriving indie music scene; in...

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" (Food 1999-2012) made the antic blond Southerner one of the Food Network's most visible personalities in its early days, as recognizable as Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay. The series, which Brown wrote, directed and produced as well as starring in, was one of the first cooking shows to find an audience as interested in the show's humor (showcased in large-scale model demonstrations of scientific properties as well as physical gags and one-liners) as in the recipes.

Although his Southern roots were a major part of both his TV persona and his cooking style, Alton Brown was born in Los Angeles on July 30, 1962. His Georgia-born parents moved back home when Alton was 7, when his father took a job running the local newspaper in his old hometown. Brown's father committed suicide when Alton was 9, and from that point he was largely raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents. He first learned how to cook in his grandmother's kitchen; much later, she appeared in several early episodes of "Good Eats." Brown moved to Athens in the early 1980s to study film at the University of Georgia. While there, he occasionally shot videos for the college town's thriving indie music scene; in 1987, he was the Director of Photography for the video of R.E.M.'s first chart hit, "The One I Love."

While working in local commercials in the Atlanta area in the early 1990s, Brown found himself watching a number of cooking shows on television and noticing how badly made and cheap-looking they were. Brown and his wife, producer DeAnna Collins, began kicking around ideas for a new kind of cooking show, one that combined solid culinary knowledge with more inventive photography and graphics and a humorous edge. His three inspirations, Brown often said, were Julia Child, Mr. Science and Monty Python. Although by this point he felt solid on the filming side of things, Brown decided that to be credible, he needed a stronger basis in culinary science, and moved from Atlanta to Burlington, VT to attend the prestigious New England Culinary Institute.

Upon his graduation from culinary school, the couple returned to Atlanta and shot a low-budget pilot (written and directed by Alton and produced by DeAnna) for what would become "Good Eats." Although A PBS station in Chicago expressed interest in the series, the nascent Food Network seemed a more simpatico partner; "Good Eats" became the first show the Food Network ever bought that was not created and shot in-house. Premiering in 1999, the series quickly became one of the network's most popular shows, and Brown's affably nerdy presence and trademark Hawaiian shirts made him one of the show's most familiar faces. A new job as the host and play-by-play commentator of "Iron Chef America" (Food 2005-14) expanded his visibility; he later filled the same roles on the spin-off "The Next Iron Chef" (Food 2007-12), a reality competition series whose winners went on to join the "Iron Chef America" roster as the original chefs left the series.

Brown's next project was the filming of a cross-country motorcycle road trip that visited small towns in search of interesting local food. The resulting "Feasting On Asphalt" (Food 2006) was quickly followed by a second series, in which Brown and his crew traveled along the length of the Mississippi River; a third show, "Feasting On Waves" (Food 2008), was a boat trip through the Caribbean, sampling the cuisine and drinks of various islands. Throughout all of these new series, "Good Eats" proceeded through 14 seasons, until Brown brought the show to an end in early 2012. Brown continued his association with Food Network, first as a mentor and later as the host of the reality competition "Food Network Star" (Food 2005- ). On this show, Brown cemented a change in persona that had begun on the later seasons of "Good Eats," dialing down the wackiness in favor of a dryly sardonic wit and adopting a stylishly retro new look featuring a stingy-brim fedora and bow tie. In 2013, Brown began his own podcast in association with Chris Hardwick's The Nerdist, and hosted a new competition series, "Cutthroat Kitchen" (Food 2013- ), in which chefs bid, auction-style, on the ability to gain advantages upon and throw obstacles at their competitors.

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