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Food TV Star Alton Brown Coming To Biltmore Estate

By Rick McDaniel
POSTED: June 25, 2002 8:37 p.m.

ASHEVILLE - Alton Brown isn't your typical cooking show host.

Most of them don't mind when you call them "chef," for instance.

"I don't call myself a chef," Brown says, even though he's a graduate of the prestigious New England Culinary Institute. "I'm not a chef."

Then again, most cooking show hosts don't get their cookbooks reviewed by Popular Science, either.

Brown, the host of the Food Network's "Good Eats" show, will bring his quirky, entertaining and informative mixture of "The Galloping Gourmet" meets "Mr. Science" to the Biltmore Estate Aug. 17-18 as part of the estate winery's annual Guest Chef series of cooking demonstrations.

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" program airs on Food TV at 1 and 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., 9 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. Brown will bring his irreverent cooking style to Asheville this summer when he leads a cooking demonstration class at Biltmore Estate.

What's cooking at Biltmore Estate
bulletBiltmore Estate's Guest Chef series will be held from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in the estate's winery July 20-21 and Aug. 17-18. Admission is free with estate admission. Scott Howell, owner and chef of Nana's and Pop's Trattoria in Durham, will be the guest chef July 20- 21. Alton Brown, host of Food Network's "Good Eats," will be the guest chef Aug. 17-18.
bulletBiltmore Cooks! will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 15. The session will be led by Biltmore Corporate Executive Chef Stephen Adams. Cost is $144, or $110 for anyone with 12-month and Vanderbilt passes.

Register for any of the classes by calling 225-1319. Registration begins July 15.

"Good Eats" features segments with titles such as "The Grill Seekers;" "Tuna: The Other Red Meat;" "Scrap Iron Chef;" and "A Rib for All Seasons." It's an offbeat combination of cooking show, science class, and slapstick comedy, sort of like if Julia Child was kidnapped by Monty Python to do a cooking show on MTV.

The show demystifies cooking, giving easy to understand instructions and examples of the physics and chemistry that makes the food we eat every day. Brown's new book, "I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking," brings the show's formula even more into focus, explaining the mysteries of what happens when the oven door closes.

The only member of his family not born in Georgia, Brown was born in Los Angeles and lived there several years before his family moved back to Cleveland, Ga. After cooking at "rib shacks and pizza joints" all through high school, Brown went to culinary school and became a famous chef, right?


After earning a theater degree at the University of Georgia, Brown worked as a cameraman and eventually as a director of commercials and corporate films. When he wasn't shooting, he was cooking and watching cooking programs, which he constantly criticized as dull and uninformative. Tired of the griping, his wife and producer, DeeAnna, urged him to do something about it. Brown enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute. After graduation, he and DeeAnna filmed two pilot episodes of the show that was to become "Good Eats" and he never looked back.

Brown's fans include legions of men, which doesn't really surprise him. "The show's about tinkering with food - not being fussy, just tinkering," he says. "Men are just born to tinker. It's an adventure show, in a way."

Described by one reviewer as equal parts Jacques Pipin and "Mr. Science," with a dash of "MacGyver," Brown's approach to cooking has led to crowds in the hundreds at recent stops, according to Amy Voll of New York's First Name Media.

In addition to the popular TV host, the Guest Chef series will feature Scott Howell, owner and chef of Nana's and Pop's Trattoria in Durham on July 20-21 demonstrating seafood, meat and vegetable risottos.

For food lovers who want a little hands-on kitchen time, the estate is offering Biltmore Cooks! a chance to learn from Corporate Executive Chef Stephen Adams and his staff Aug. 15. This class will offer information on brown-bag lunches a makeover with ideas for gourmet pita and wrap sandwiches, tips for pairing wine and cheese and flavor- packed classics with a twist, such as buttermilk batter fried chicken salad.

Alton on the Web
bulletFor recipes, rants and advice, go to www.altonbrown.com
bulletThe Food Network: www.foodtv.com

The Quotable Mr. Brown
bulletAlton Brown on food: "With the exception of tax attorneys, nothing hangs onto the edge of a martini glass better than shrimp."
bulletAlton Brown on life: "All of life's big problems include the words 'indictment' or 'inoperable.' Everything else is small stuff."


Alton Brown's No-Backyard Baby Back Ribs

"I love baby back ribs because they deliver flavor and finger-lickin' goodness with little fuss and even less time," says Alton Brown. "I have friends who smoke their ribs for hours and hours and then wonder why they're tough. The reason is connective tissue, lots of it, and no amount of dry heat is going to dissolve that. If you can't imagine baby back ribs without smoke, however, go ahead and smoke them for an hour or so before the braising step. Personally, I don't bother. I often wear rubber gloves at the table and eat these ribs over a large mixing bowl. It isn't pretty."

1 full rack/slab baby back ribs
Kosher salt
Shake No. 9 (see note)
1/2 cup orange juice (not fresh squeezed)
1/2 cup prepared margarita mix
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (freeze-dried, not actual grounds)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne

You will also need:
Paper towels
Extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil
Shallow roasting pan
Saucier or small sauce pan
Kitchen shears
Broiler pan

Application: braising, then broiling

Rinse the ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a sheet of extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. (The foil should be 4 inches longer than the ribs on either end.) Season liberally on both sides with the salt and Shake No. 9.

Turn the ribs meat-side-down and tightly seal inside the foil by folding and rolling the longer edges together, then closing the ends tight over the ribs. Place the packet in the roasting pan and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours, turning the sealed packet over once.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the packet from the refrigerator and unroll one end, shaping the foil upward like a funnel. Pour in the orange juice and the margarita mix. Reseal the foil packet and see-saw it back and forth a couple of times to evenly distribute the liquid inside. Return the packet to the pan and place the pan in the middle of the oven. After 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and cook until tender, approximately 2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven, unroll one end of the packet, carefully drain all the juice into a saucier or small saucepan, and add the honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, espresso powder, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until reduced to a glaze that coats a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.

Move oven rack to the next-to-the-top position and turn on the broiler (use the high setting if you have a choice). Remove the slab from the foil packet and cut it into four equal sections (I use kitchen shears for this). Place ribs on the broiling pan, meat side up, brush with the glaze, and broil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reglaze and repeat until the ribs are a dark mahogany color. Flip the ribs bone side up and glaze, and broil a minute longer.

Remove and allow to cool a couple of minutes before serving, preferably with potato salad or copious amounts of cole slaw.

Makes 1 to 3 servings, depending on who's doing the eating

NOTE: A part can be any amount - a tablespoon, for example - depending on how much is needed. For one rack of ribs, 1/2 to 3/4 cup of rub will be sufficient. The ratio of ingredients for Rub No. 9 is: 5 parts brown sugar, 3 parts chile powder, 1 part garlic powder, 1/2 part ground thyme, 1/4 part cayenne, and 1/4 part allspice.

Rick McDaniel writes about food and cooking for the Citizen- Times. Write him c/o the Asheville Citizen-Times, P.O. Box 2090, Asheville, NC 28802, fax him at 251-0585, call him at 232-0808 during business hours or e-mail him at southerncooking@charter.net.

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010