Alton Brown serves food-science

Courtesy of Alton Brown’s TV series “Good Eats” first premiered in 1999 and ran for 244 episodes and eight specials.

By Zachary Landau | The Duquesne Duke

Courtesy of Alton Brown’s TV series “Good Eats” first premiered in 1999 and ran for 244 episodes and eight specials.
Courtesy of
Alton Brown’s TV series “Good Eats” first premiered in 1999 and ran for 244 episodes and eight specials.

Any food fan worth their salt knows who Alton Brown is. The Food-Network star’s career has taken on many different forms, but the cult-classic “Good Eats” is where his reputation for being an eccentric yet ingenious nerd began. The show’s episodes had goofy sketches, props, and scenarios surrounding a particular food or food-related subject and would heavily feature the science behind the cooking. It was informative, funny, and surprisingly educational.

It was basically “Bill Nye the Science Guy” with food, and it was awesome.

Brown has continued the spirit of “Good Eats” in his tours, and his latest, “Eat Your Science,” made an appearance at the Benedem Center last Tuesday. While its name is somewhat of a misnomer, as science took a back seat for most of the night, the show was a hysterical two hours that delights audiences and proves everyone who says cooking can’t be fun wrong.

“Eat Your Science” features many different skits, including musical numbers, pre-recorded videos and a game show, to name a few. The variety on display was actually surprising considering that the amount of props on stage seemed to suggest that Brown would be showing off his toys more than anything else. However, the different sketches were greatly appreciated as there was no moment the entire night that the energy began to die down.

The first act was more varied than the second, devoting its time to music, a bit of stand-up, and the aforementioned game show. The game itself is called “Spin Your Poison” and was used to demonstrate the composition of cocktails; contestants spin three wheels, and each ingredient that the wheels land on are mixed on stage for them to drink. The premise itself is funny, and it pokes fun at the sometimes ridiculous lengths some people go to be creative in mixing drinks. The best part of it, however, is when the Frankenstein drink is frozen with liquid nitrogen for the sake of the poor audience member who spun the wheel.

Unfortunately, moments like that were rare throughout the performance. In retrospect, it makes sense that Brown would not want to tour with a bunch of potentially-dangerous contraptions and chemicals. However, for those who have followed his work for a long time, the stuff that is science-related feels a bit tired. Brown has played with liquid nitrogen before, and he has gone in extensive detail about popcorn (which nearly the entire second act is devoted to) in the past as well.

That is not to say the show was bad, but it was certainly not what was expected. Fortunately, the comedy kept the audience laughing throughout the night, with Brown frequently turning his critical eye on them to keep people on their toes. One family in particular was a repeated subject to his wrath when their daughter confessed to not liking bacon. He also heckled a couple who missed the first half despite having front-row seats. It was all good-natured, however, and he did carefully maintain the line between being fun and being mean.

That good-natured feeling is truly at the heart of “Eat Your Science.” It is an extremely funny show that is entirely devoted to making food fun. It is certainly worth checking out if the chance arises, and I would recommend it to anyone, foody or otherwise.