Alton Brown

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Alton Brown on the cover of his study GEAR, an equipment purchasing guide for do-it-yourself scientists. Note the mispelling of the word "kitschen." This printing error resulted in a small batch of first editions which are now considered collector's items.

Alton Brown is a famous chemist, botanist, and biologist who performs elaborate experiments on television using organic matter. Many of his experiments involve animals that have been carefully pre-killed and preserved for use in his experiments by flaying, skinning, draining their blood and removing internal organs (which are usually unnecessary for his purposes). A large number of plant varieties are used in his work as well. Brown rose to fame when he began to regularly shock his viewers by eating his experiments and encouraging others to do the same. This practice has given him a reputation as a bit of a kook. His studies are compiled, carefully illustrated, and published in theme-oriented volumes which Brown self-deprecatingly calls "Kook Books." These are very popular with do-it-yourself home scientists.

Most of Brown's studies focus on the effects of high temperatures on matter. For these purposes, his labs are equipped with kilns, dangerous microwave devices, fire-spewing hardware intalled into countertops, and other gadgets. The temperatures in his experiments are carefully controlled and documented in his books. The labs are also equipped with exhaust hoods and fans to keep the atmosphere cool and workable. Usually a small conference area adjoins the lab, with four to six chairs for fellow scientists, friends, and guests who he invites to watch him perform. He often dares these guests to eat his experiments, and these pranks are filmed for their comic value.

Education is a singular preoccupation with Alton Brown. It is evidently very important to him that his viewers memorize every step of his experiments. He uses repetition, summary, and a question and answer format in his efforts to drill his viewers. Each program ends with a quiz to make sure his viewers are successful. This "quizzing" or "quizine" is used to describe his particular discipline of science.

Brown has an artistic flair, which many mistake for homosexuality. It really is just an artistic flair, and nothing more. Brown's artism is employed in his display of the "after" effects of his "before and after" experiments, placed on glazed porcelain "platforms" (or "plates" for short). His artistic sensibilities are thought by many critics to be "kitschy". His labortories are also decorated in a highly artistic manner, uncharacteristic of more scientific facilities. Brown, revelling in his reputation for being "kitschy," self-deprecatingly calls his laboratories "kitschens".


Alton Brown talks a lot. Actually, his producers can't get him to shut up. Fortunately, most of what he has to say is actually interesting and useful. If his verbosity bothers you, you may want to stick to his books and avoid his televised experiments.


Alton Brown is a bit of a fashion buff. His taste in clothing is a bit Krameresque. Loose-fitting, non-tucked smocks are a favorite of his. Due to his extreme vanity and ostentatious manner, Brown rarely wears a lab coat while he works. (He refuses to admit that he fears being mistaken for a lab rat, sporting his Sonic the Hedgehog haircut.)


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