Iron Chef America contestants may just get a heads up on ingredients.
Iron Chef America contestants may just get a heads up on ingredients.

Mr Brown, my wife and I are Iron Chef America junkies. The burning question we have is, How much do the chefs know about the ingredient beforehand? They seem to go straight into a game plan as soon as they receive the goods.

Here's the honest answer (as far as I know): about a week before the competition, the chefs are given a list of 8 possible ingredients. They have to be prepared for all of them. I also should tell you that I've been told that on the Japanese version they just flat out told them...but that could be a nasty rumor.

To each their own when it comes to food, right?
To each their own when it comes to food, right?

Hi, Mr. Brown! I've been a fan for years: you were always the chef on TV that answered the kinds of questions I had about cooking. All of the "why?" questions rather than just "how?" So anyways, my question: During an Anthony Bourdain speaking engagement I attended, someone asked him his favorite "guilty pleasure" food. He began describing the "radioactive mac and cheese" they serve at KFC -- and that he "loves that sh*t!" Any guilty pleasure foods of your own?

This is disgusting and I'm not proud but have you ever dipped Fritos into that fake caramel sauce they make for apples?

Even foodies have their opinions on diets.
Even foodies have their opinions on diets.

Thank you, Mr. Brown, for doing this AMA. 1) Your show Good Eats has been amazingly educational and informative. One of the most helpful episodes, in my opinion, was the "Live and Let Diet" episode. From your experience in the culinary industry and the entertainment/marketing industry, why do you think there is such a affinity to "fad" diets and not enough attention to simply eating right, as demonstrated in your show? 2) Do you really never leave home without a whole nutmeg and a microplane grater? If so, what is the most random situation you found yourself in where the nutmeg came in handy?

1) Thanks for your comment. I do think there is too much emphasis on "diets" and not enough of simply eating well. The truth is, it's simple...eat your veggies, lay off the red meat and sweets, drink plenty of water and exercise. 2) I have a grater and nutmeg at all times. I use it a lot on bad coffee, which is most of the coffee in encounter.

The trick to a perfect steak.
The trick to a perfect steak.

Is there any good way to cook a steak on a gas grill? I can never get the fat to cook right.

Yes. Make sure the steak is out of the fridge for at least an hour before you cook it. And liberally season with kosher salt AN HOUR BEFORE COOKING. Trust me.

Hey, not everyone gets excited about food.
Hey, not everyone gets excited about food.

Do you geek out about food at home? Is your wife also a food geek?

My wife geeks out over steak and potatoes.

And the perfect cheesecake goes to...
And the perfect cheesecake goes to...

Alton, your cheesecake recipe has gotten my girlfriend and so many compliments I just wanted to thank you! It's a giant success at family functions. One question if you would be so kind to answer, we follow your recipe exactly but I feel like the cheesecake never gets very firm in the middle. It is almost impossible to slice while keeping the shape of a slice. Is this just the nature of the recipe or are there any tips for helping it firm up a bit more?

It sounds like you might be pulling it a little underdone. Add 5 more minutes to the cooking, or turn off the oven and leave it for another 10. And make sure it's thoroughly chilled before cutting.

We all need a break sometimes.
We all need a break sometimes.

What do you make for dinner after a long tiring day at work?

Reservations.

We can't get away with everything now can we?!
We can't get away with everything now can we?!

Hi Alton! What is the one food that Food Network would not let you make an episode of Good Eats about, that you wanted to do the most?

Food Network has always been very supportive of me and they've let me get away with a lot but when I said "sweetbreads" they said "no." Same with rabbit.

Very clever.
Very clever.

Last meal. Death row. What's it gonna be? (You're awesome by the way.)

Duck confit because it takes 3 days to make.

Cheese. It's always the answer.
Cheese. It's always the answer.

How do I keep the top lasagna noodles from drying out?

Lots and lots of cheese.

We all change our minds sometimes.
We all change our minds sometimes.

Hi Alton, long time fan here, thank you very much for doing this AMA. Is there anything you've touted on Good Eats as a "golden rule" that you have changed your opinion on?

Yes. I really messed up with cooking pasta in season 1. I said to bring a gallon of water to a boil before cooking dry pasta. Crap! Start in cold water and only use enough to cover the pasta.

The best rules to live by.
The best rules to live by.

What advice would you give to an aspiring cook? Thanks!

Cook, Travel, Eat, Read, repeat.

No competing for this guy.
No competing for this guy.

Mr. Brown - Thank you for doing this AMA - HUGE fan. "Good Eats" got me interested in cooking, and I've tried and enjoyed many of your recipes! You appear on several shows (Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Next Food Network Star) as the food guru. Have you ever wanted a role as a competitor? Do you ever hang out with other Food Network stars? If so, what do you do? If not, what do you do for fun?

I have no desire to compete...I'm just not that kind of guy...not that way at least. I don't hang out with Food Network stars because, well...I don't really fit in with the big "A" list stars and the young folk think I'm old. So, I'm kinda on a "C" list all by myself, which is perfectly fine. As for fun...I'll get back to you.

The best bourbon cocktail.
The best bourbon cocktail.

What's your favorite bourbon cocktail to make at home and tips on how to make it?(Also, thanks for doing this AMA. My fiance and I have been fans of yours for years!)

Boulevardier. Look it up. It's like a negroni only with bourbon instead of gin.

SOFTWARE:

1 1/2 oz. bourbon

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. sweet vermouth

Ice cubes

HARDWARE:

Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer

Glass: cocktail

Garnish: orange slice, lemon twist or cherry

Stir long and well with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass.

The Boulevardier

Now you can look just like the man himself!
Now you can look just like the man himself!

Where do you buy your bow ties at?

All over. In fact I have a line of bow ties coming out with a great company called Hook & Albert.

Yes.
Yes.

Hi Alton, thanks for doing this. If you could only have one knife in your kitchen, what style/brand would it be?

Cut Brooklyn 8 inch chef's knife.

Ew, gross. No thank you!
Ew, gross. No thank you!

Hi Alton. Been a fan of Good Eats for years. Thanks for explaining what's actually happening when cooking and why you're doing what you're doing. What is the strangest food you've ever made/ate?

Curried lamb eyes [shudders].

Agreed.
Agreed.

What were your impressions of Jamie and Adam during your time on Mythbusters?

Heros...no other way to say it. Smarter than anybody else in the room but completely genuine and unaffected. Nice guys and a delight to work with.

The best dating advice ever.
The best dating advice ever.

What is your best advice to get someone to like food/cooking? My fiancee has zero interest in food beyond eating it (I blame her family's boxed meal habits) and I love to cook (thanks to Good Eats) and try new things, any advice to get her to be more adventurous?

Look...just go ahead and dump her before it's too late. She's clearly damaged.

It's always better in a panini.
It's always better in a panini.

Mr. Brown, thank you for doing what you do. Whenever people tell me about how they want to learn how to cook, I refer them to your show and your book(s) because they will gain a great confidence in the kitchen. What is your favorite dish to cook when you are short on time?

When I'm in a hurry I turn to my panini press. I can cook a butterflied game hen in that thing in 12 minutes.

Wow, yes!
Wow, yes!

What is your favorite prop that you've used on Good Eats?

Three words: giant, squid, tentical.

What a goal.
What a goal.

If it were possible, would you ever want to cook in space for the astronauts on the ISS?

To cook in space is my dream...absolute dream.

We don't either.
We don't either.

Is there any food trend going on that just makes you roll your eyes?

I don't understand the whole "raw" thing. I'm pretty sure that learning to use fire gave us the ability to seriously up our dietary game and made us what we are...apex predators on planet Earth.

Everyone loves food.
Everyone loves food.

Mr. Brown, thank you for taking the time for the AMA and for your show and personality that radiates through the camera. I have two questions: What drove you into the culinary world? What was your favorite homemade meal growing up?

My favorite homemade meal was my mom's spaghetti. I was driven into food because it's the universal subject...everyone loves food. It's what connects all of us to each other.

Grease. All the grease.
Grease. All the grease.

What, in your opinion, is the perfect drunk/ hangover food? Also, I just wanted to say that your ice cream recipe has become a family tradition in my house. Thanks for that.

French Fries...the greasier the better.

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