When I watched a preview snippet of Alton’s Brown Edible Inevitable tour I was confused as to what the show would actually entail. From what I could tell, there will be food and music. There will also be comedy and maybe some stuff exploding. Or, at least, that’s what I gathered when I saw that the folks in the front row are urged to wear plastic ponchos.
“What I wanted to develop was a culinary variety show, a kind of old-style variety show where there’s a lot of different things going on all kind of centered around food,” Alton told me. “Of course, a variety show has to have live music so I do some of my food songs, which are hopefully hilarious.” He laughs and adds, “They make me laugh at least.”
Fan or not, fun will ensue
Alton tells me that fans of his will recognize and appreciate some elements they’re familiar with, such as the puppets he uses within his show. “There are also two very large, very unusual and potentially dangerous culinary demonstrations,” he says, assuring me that nobody has been harmed in these demonstrations, but warns me that “occasionally particulate matter is emitted by one of these devices.”
It’s a show with lots of audience interaction and a Twitter Q&A that runs throughout the show. Alton says that whether or not you’re a fan of his, you’re probably going to have a great time at the show. “I’ve had folks who have said to me, ‘I didn’t know you from Adam, but I still had a good time.’” After a pause for reflection, he adds, “As long as you’re interested in food. If you have no interest in food, there might be something better to do that night.”
Visiting Foodieville, U.S.A.
Alton likes visiting Omaha because he knows that we know food. I told him that Omaha goes bananas for food types like him, and without missing a beat he replies, “Well, go bonkers.”
He’s excited to spend some time in Omaha and says that one of his favorite things about touring is spending time in different cities and trying different food. When he asked me where he should make sure to visit for lunch during his visit I suggested Block 16.
You’re welcome, Block 16.
He’s also familiar with the Orpheum and counts it among one of the most beautiful venues he’s slated to visit. “The theater that we’re playing in Omaha is pretty fantastic. I’ll be honest, I do love touring. I came from a theater background. I was a theater major in college. The nightly ritual of ‘trying to get it right’ is something I enjoy.”
Forget following your dreams, dreamers
So how does a commercial television director become a wildly popular food personality and author? You might be expecting some advice along the lines of follow your dreams, blah blah blah, but Alton has a different perspective. “There are two ways to live your life,” he says. “You either play by the rules or you don’t. Somewhere along the line I just decided to play by my own rules and not allow myself to be defined professionally or personally by the kind of normal operating procedures. Life’s too short for that and I also think that you have to identify and cultivate what your skill set is.”
“I talk to student groups and I say, ‘Look, I don’t care about your dreams. I don’t care about your hopes and your wishes. I don’t care if you want to be an astronaut. Nobody cares what you want. What I care about is what you can do. What your capabilities are. You gotta figure out what it is that you can do and do it.”
“Twenty years ago when I was directing TV commercials I never thought for a moment that I’m going to end up on camera making shows about food,” he continues. “But then there’s the fact that it’s something I can do. I’m far more interested in cultivating my capabilities than chasing my dreams.”
Keep going, Alton
Alton’s on tour until December, when he heads back to Los Angeles for another round of his television show Cutthroat Kitchen. He’s then back on the road until sometime in April, and then he has a new book coming out in the fall of 2015. “I have a couple other projects…unless I drop dead from exhaustion,” he says.
He wants to tell me more about his book, but he can’t because his publisher hasn’t given him the green light to talk about it yet. “It’s a different kind of book for me. I would tell you more, but I don’t want to get in trouble.”
He’s an interesting guy to talk to and an entertaining performer. Get your tickets for his upcoming show on Thursday, Oct 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum before they’re all gone and check out his show Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network. Whether you see him on stage or on the small screen, there’s a good chance you’ll be wildly entertained.