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A Profile of Alton Brown

from the NECI News - January, 2001

    As the old adage goes, the road to success is not always paved with gold. Here at New England Culinary Institute, we would like to give our alumni as many of the tools and help they need to become successful. Some of our graduates find more success than others. This articles profiles Alton Brown, a 1995 graduate of NECI.

    Alton Brown is the host and creator of Good Eats, a food series on the Food Network Channel that focuses on helping people understand food and how to cook. He came from a film background and after watching plenty of bad food shows, it was his desire to develop a different type of food show-one that taught and entertained simultaneously. However, he needed the culinary background in order to create such a food show, so he decided to get the best possible culinary education he could get,-at New England Culinary Institute.

    With the culinary degree under his belt, Alton began work on fulfilling his goal-creating an entertaining and educational food show. He came up with the idea for the show initially in 1991, and the show finally premiered in July 1999. It was not an overnight process, but one that took years of preparation, hard work, and focus. Alton overcame many obstacles, one of the main ones being himself.

    "I am not a naturally optimistic person," said Alton. "I had a great supporter, however, in my wife, DeAnna. She believed in me more than I did." Another person that Alton gives credit to is the chef on his first internship. "I did my first internship at The Common Man in Waitsfield, Vermont under the supervision of Patrick Matecat. That internship nearly killed me at times, but in the end I credit Patrick with teaching me not only how to cook but how to taste."

    Another factor that Alton says is so important is educating oneself-to keep learning. "Everyday I get up and I feel like I'm behind." He is always in a constant mode of discovery.

    While Alton feels education is important, it's what he did with that education that made all the difference. "At New England Culinary Institute we all got the same education, but it's what you do with that education that will get you where you want to be. Education is a great tool, but it's not going to do the work for you. You still need to drive the car."

    Alton also feels that being well rounded educationally is important. "Network, read, learn how to communicate and write...it's not only about being a good cook, but about marketing yourself. What makes you special and unique...and above all, don't lose your focus."

    Alton's final tip on the road to success : Keep in mind that we are all in business and that business taps its feet to a greater cultural rhythm. Get in sync with that rhythm.


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Last Edited on 08/27/2010