One of the best shows on Food Network doesn't involve Chairman Kaga, the word "bam!" or a New England harridan. Good Eats is good TV.
Good Eats airs several times a week on Food Network and is hosted with a winning smile by Alton Brown. It's a cooking show with content. Wells and I love it and never miss an episode, even if we don't end up cooking the dishes.
Why do we love Alton so much? He doesn't whip studio audiences into a frenzy; rather, he provides useful information about the theory behind cooking. Equal parts teacher, chef and friendly kitchen guide, Alton illustrates principle behind the process, from cooking a steak to baking a potato. He does it with fun visual aids like balloons or sock puppets without pandering or condescending. Despite the goofy production the science is sound. Alton shows why a certain recipe works, never urging us to follow it by rote. As a result, we learn more about how to cook, and suddenly even most complex dishes become easy. Cooking is not magic, and Good Eats brilliantly demystifies the process.
The show even covers kitchen equipment. For example, the episode about grilling went into a Barbeques Galore to evaluate different models of barbeque and what you should look for when shopping. This information has been invaluable. The features Alton talks about may be things you've never thought of, and that knowledge helps you select a truly great grill--or any other piece of kitchen gear--with confidence. He never plugs a sponsor's product; he gives it to us straight, feature by feature.
Each episode covers one food item or cooking process, perhaps oatmeal, or turkey, or braising, often something commonly mis-handled. With simple, rapid-fire instructions, Alton covers two or three dishes from the basic to the complex. Even difficult projects are clearly explained, leaving the viewer feeling confident and knowledgeable, ready to tackle anything in the kitchen.
All this content is wrapped in a pop-culture-savvy package with amusing comedy bits and textual factoids. The hipster production values serve as spice and don't overwhelm the main dish, enhancing the concotion like a well-built sauce. With luck, Good Eats will be around for many years to come. We love Alton!
A Burke and Wells essay.