Book Signing Report #2

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Below are reports of Alton's Book Signing tour in May & June, 2002
written by fellow fans who attended.

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SANTA MONICA, CA, SUR LA TABLE (June 12): By new cook

This was a class and not a book signing, so it was a slightly different from most others' experiences. AB was very friendly, going through the aisles of seated class attendees and introducing himself to each person. Nice touch, and there was some kidding around with some people. Then, before opening the floor to questions he went through a list of questions and answers from previous appearances to get them out of the way. Most of these had to do with his relationship to various characters on the show: "W", Marsha, his "nephew", with the same comments as what other posters have already reported. And no, we can't have the chicken. There was silence after this one, I'm not sure if people didn't get it and he seemed a little flummoxed by the lack of response. "You know, the papier mâché chicken? One of kind, they don't make anymore of ‘em. You can't have it!"

New questions that people had asked: well, they weren't really new. Someone asked what his favorite episode was, it was the garlic show. Another person asked if there were any shows that FTV wouldn't allow him to do, he said the closest that came to that was the potato show, the take-off on "Misery". They made him re-write it so there wouldn't be any hobbling and the audience wouldn't think AB & FTV was accusing the viewers of being homicidal maniacs. But you've already heard that before. If anyone else who was there is reading this and can recall any fresh questions, please post them.

Anyway, this particular class full of people was definitely there for the cooking lesson, we were into learning what AB had to teach us. So the really interesting questions came during the class and were about the techniques, the tools, etc.

On to the actual class: this was about brining, and brining chicken, pork, and shrimp in particular. Throughout the class, AB was of course very funny, very witty. It's funny to watch him gently heckle the audience. Sounds like a contradiction but he was actually very respectful in his heckling. Now *that's* a tight rope to walk! AB consistently had one particular woman from Sur La Table cracking up, her laughter was louder than most of ours.

Anyway, after brining the chicken he showed us how to prepare the chicken for baking it in a flower pot. A few important notes on this:

  1. the chicken should fill up the flower pot, so get one that is just big enough to hold the bird. This will allow for more even browning of the chicken.
  2. the "lid" for the flower pot, which is an unglazed flower pot dish, should be larger than the opening of the pot so that it "caps" off the top.
  3. after patting the chicken dry from the brining solution, do a "shake 'n bake" in a brown paper bag with flour. The flour is to prevent the chicken from sticking to the flower pot.
  4. use a pie pan under the flower pot to catch any drippings from the drain hole.
  5. do NOT pre-soak the flower pot in water. The brine has provided enough moisture, the pot should be dry.
  6. do NOT wash the pot with soapy water. Just water is fine. It will eventually turn dark with additional use and become seasoned, similar to cast iron cookware. Soapy water can make future food taste off. And never use the same pot for cooking fish as you do for cooking other foods -- the fish flavor will transfer, and that's not Good Eats.
  7. if you need to let the chicken (or pork) you're brining sit in the solution for more than 5 hours, say for 8 to 10 hours, reduce the solids in the solution (salt, sugar, seasonings) by half.

We then took a 15 minute break and people milled about, shopped in the store, bought books and other items for AB to sign, etc. AB hung around during this time and talked to whoever approached him. He was very open and friendly. Hmmm...I didn't see anyone taking pictures and I hadn't brought a camera, either.

After the break was over, we were starving. The pork chops had been brined and now were undergoing their transformation into the best pork chops I've had in a very long time. They were dredged in flour, then egg, then dredged in crushed salt & vinegar potato chips (Kettle brand). They should be allowed to then rest for 30 minutes or so to let the coating set so it won't peel off when it's cooked. The chops were then pan fried and then finished off in the oven. There were chops in various stages of this through the demonstration, in the interest of time. I'm not sure, though, if the oven part was because we were compressing time in this class or if that was standard procedure? I'll have to look it up in the book.

The shrimp: as he did in the shrimp show, AB recommended buying shrimp in a frozen ice block because they'll be in better shape and have been treated with fewer chemicals. The shrimp had been brining for over 1/2 an hour, which was too long, so they were too salty. He tried to doctor that up by making a sauce with honey and pineapple (the store didn't have any oranges on hand), and that did help. But they were still too salty, unfortunately.

The shrimp that Sur La Table provided were from a local natural foods store that is highly regarded (and high-priced), but the chemicals in the shrimp that leached out into the brining liquid turned it very blue. Ewww! As AB said, yet another reason to brine shrimp. When the water solution goes back into the cells, there's less room for the chemicals to go back in.

OK, *finally* the food was served. The chicken was delicious, the pork chops absolutely fabulous, the shrimp -- too salty. But it was a great class, AB is a natural teacher, my class mates were very nice people. The Sur La Table people were wonderful, too, and they didn't even flinch whenever AB said something like "Don't waste your money on a $60 clay roaster when you can buy a flower pot for $2 at the hardware store!" Several times he recommended a simple and inexpensive item from the hardware store over a pricey cookware counterpart from.....well, from Sur La Table!! Yes, I’d say the host was very gracious about that.

After the class was over and our tummies were filled, AB once again opened the floor to more questions. Someone asked about final cooking temperature for cooking the pork, whether he chose it for culinary or safety reasons. The answer to this was very interesting, he said that while the FDA would prefer people to cook pork to a temperature of 160 degrees he prefers it at 145 degrees. There hasn’t been a case of trichinosis in over 70 years, pork is bred very cleanly these days so the danger of undercooking pork is of much less concern. Meats, he said, often turn pink again after cooking, which is why we sometimes see pinker meat on chicken near the bone. It’s not a sign of undercooking, just an enzymatic reaction.

Someone else asked what his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles was, he didn’t have one. There are too many great restaurants in L.A. to choose just one, but he prefers those that serve good basic food. He’s not a Spago kind of guy. But he did eat lunch at the Apple Pan that day. Oh my, did the audience respond to that! There was the loudest groan of gastronomic pleasure let out, as if we’d all just tasted the cheeseburger AB must have enjoyed there. A resounding Homeresque groan of approval (Simpson, that is). For anyone who has ever eaten a burger and fries at the Apple Pan, you know what I mean. It is the BEST, the most authentic place for burgers you can imagine. Rumor has it that John Belushi’s character of the "cheebuegah, cheebuegah" cook was inspired by the cooks at the Apple Pan.

Someone asked a question and I don’t recall what it was, but it led to AB going into a riff about how important he felt it was for people to be cooking at home, to regain that sharing, that "breaking of bread" with family and friends that is so important to us as human beings. AB also felt strongly about our supporting the local butcher and baker, the local farmers, or else one day soon their art would be lost, they would cease to exist. The quality of the food available to us will suffer greatly if this happens. We’ll be eating food produced only by agricultural mega-conglomerates whose interest is purely financial. Everything will be the same, all Mcfood. Over-processed, empty both of nutritional and sensory value. The negative impact on individuals, families, community would be so great as to be something we’d possibly never recover from. AB really seemed to feel pretty strongly about this.

Class was then officially dismissed, people lined up to have their books and other items signed. AB seemed to take his time with everyone, not rushing anyone through, just friendly chatting. Again, no photos. Too bad.

Wow, this report is much longer than I’d expected. Well, that’s it. It was a great night!

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LOS ANGELES, CA, B&N (June 13): By Cart

First off I am a relatively new fan to the show, after only seriously watching for the last couple of months. My wife did get me the book last week and I love it, so when I heard that Alton was going to be in LA, I was totally there. I had to drive from Orange County down to downtown LA, which is a thirty-minute drive in ideal conditions. One and a half hours later, I got there.

I showed up at around 7, with the signing due to start at about 730. There were about 100 chairs set up, and it was about half filled. I got a seat in the middle of the group. Alton had already stared the signing, walking down the rows while people sat. One of the first things that impressed me was that he would come up to each person, stick out his hand and say, "Hi, I’m Alton, and you are ...?” (Hey, this is LA, we see celebrities enough to know that most of them have this public image that just isn’t true. To see someone like Alton taking the time to ask each person’s name ... well, it definitely increased my opinion of him)

He got to the row in front of mine and a woman asked him if she called her son in law, would he talk to him on the phone. He said sure, took the phone and said, "This is Alton Brown. What are you doing? ... Cooking Bratwurst? ... How are the brats? ... Are you having beer with that? ... (Couldn’t hear what he said) Ale is the best beer on earth. Where is your wife? ... Riding a bike? ... So, your mother in law is getting your book signed, your wife is riding a bike and you are sitting around eating Brats? Well, it is LA”

After that Alton was talking with everyone about how he needed a ride to San Francisco, since he was probably going to miss his plane out of LAX. I asked if he would pay for gas, and he said that he would pay for gas and food, because he had a credit card, and got reimbursed. (Hey, I almost took him up on it. How cool would that have been? Unfortunately, I have this pesky job thing ...) Well, he finally got to my row and got to the woman next to me, took one look at her and yelled "You’re Pregnant!!” He turned to me and questioned, "Did you do this?” I looked him dead in the eye and said an the calmest voice, "I have never seen this woman before in my life.” (Which was true) Alton just roared and patted me on the shoulder. (Hey I made Alton laugh. How cool am I?)

Finally he came to me. Shook my hand, asked my name and said "Is there anything that you would like me to sign today?” (The guy was just so darn nice and fun.) My wife could not be there, and she wanted me to ask about his dog because she wanted to know if the dog on the website was his and he would breed her and if she could have one of the puppies. He told me that yes, that was his dog, and she was fixed, so no puppies. (He signed the book To Carter and Kari ... Sorry no puppies   ... Alton Brown) Then I got a picture. He was having people sanding in different poses when they took pictures. He had me stay in my seat while he put his head on top of mine like a totem pole. Can’t wait to see how that turns out. He also said that he liked my shirt. (And that is high praise indeed.)

Two more fan interactions, an older couple behind me and asked "are you together? I usually base couplings based on seating proximity, but that is staring to get me in trouble.” They wanted to get a book signed for their daughter for her 21st birthday. The dad said the she wanted his autograph more then Brad Pitt’s. He shot back "Tell her I’m sorry the book hasn’t been printed in Braille yet.” Another fan brought him a cup of coffee (He said that coffee was an acceptable gift, although I wouldn’t think that he would consume fan brought food. It did come form the Starbucks in the store, though.) He then asked the group if he could get them rolls or water or anything. I couldn’t resist and asked him if he was working on a career as a waiter. "Well, you have to have a backup,” he said. "What, you don’t think the food thing is going to work out?” I asked. "Yeah,” he replied sarcastically, ”Just in case the food thing doesn’t work out.”

By that time it was about 740, and he had to get stared with the question and answer session. By now there were about 200 people there, standing room only. He spent a few minutes explaining the book and why he wrote it the way he did (broken down by types of heat instead of what you are cooking.) He then said that in a group this small (a couple of hundred people is small for a book signing! I think his next book signing should be a stadium tour. Maybe he could open for the Stones ...) he liked to open the floor for a question and answer session. I will bullet point the questions and answers I remember. I’ll probably paraphrase a bit, so if I get details wrong, forgive me, but the gist will be the same. Alton’s response will be in quotes.

bulletA guy asked him about a self-cleaning pan he saw on TV and weather or not flavors from one food carry over to another if you cook them in the same pan. "Let me guess, it was only $29.95? There is another miracle product; it will also get the dirt off your hand. It’s called soap. Wash the pans and you will not have that problem. Unless a metal is highly abused, it will not carry over flavors.” The same guy later said that he did not watch him much "Yeah, you’re too busy watching infomercials.” And asked if he had ever been on Martha Stuart. Big pop from the fans. "Well, Martha and I used to date in college. She tried to run me over with her Range Rover. You will never see me on the Martha Stuart show. Besides, she has her own problems. The SEC is questioning her. I just want to know how she is going to decorate her jail cell ...”
bulletHis Mom called him on the cell phone. "She just wants money.” He let the call go to voicemail, and then his assistant’s phone rang. "I knew I shouldn’t have given her that number.”
bulletI asked him that other then melting his own shoes (it’s in the book) what is his greatest culinary failure. "Well, most of them came when I was younger. I couldn’t get women to go out with me in college to dinner, but I found that if you offered to cook to them, it was just crazy enough for them to say OK. One time I was cooking a duck for a girl, and I did not take out the packet of orange sauce out from the inside the duck. Funny thing about those packets, they have air in them. Funny thing about heat, it makes air expand. Eventually it made the packet explode. And that orange sauce? Well it has sugar in it. And when that sauce with the sugar it’s the sides of the oven and the filament, it harden to the consistency of oh, about rock. And it gets on the door and goes down to the hinges and hardens so that you can’t open the door. She was gone by 730 and it was just me and the brillo pads.”
bulletWhere is the beer episode? "It’s coming. We were thinking about doing a yeast show, which means beer or sourdough, but they just found new archeological evidence that brewing proceeded baking, so we decided to go with beer. Also, my supplies were getting low.”
bulletDo you interact with the other chefs on the Food Network? "I have met them, and they are nice, even Emeril. But, since I don’t live in New York, or own a restaurant (How cool would it me if he did?) I am not really in the "Club” So, I know them, but it’s not like I get a Christmas card form them or anything.
bulletDo you own the show? "Actually I sold the show to the Food Network. They keep me on as caretaker, but they own Good Eats.”
bulletThere was a question about the chocolate factory they went to for the chocolate episode. I don’t remember the specifics, except for this part, "I have to backtrack a bit, the food network does not tell me what to do. They don’t call me up and say, (in Godfather voice) ‘today you are going down to the mumble mumble chocolate factory’ We still decide what to do, and I still write the show.” Also "I think that we do not make enough good chocolate in this country. But when it comes to chocolate, give me a five gallon bucket of Hershey’s Kisses and look out.”
bulletWill you ever be on the Iron Chef? "No, a lot of people think it’s rigged, and I agree.” (This helps me make sense of the ending to Scrap Iron Chef. I wasn’t sure what to think at first.)
bulletWhen is the show going to an hour? "When I first started the show I kept going ‘Where’s my hour! I WANT MY HOUR!’ But I came to the realization that a half hour helps me be more focused. Besides we get about tow hour-long specials a year. Plus, the prime time slots on the Food Network are only slated for a half hour.”
bulletDo you improv the shows? "No, they are scripted out, but I do tweak them as we go. My script director has aged thirty years since she was been with the show. But the shows have to be timed just so. An episode is only about 20 minutes long, with three commercial breaks for the Olive Garden. Love the Olive Garden, great sponsor, my father in law shoots their commercials.”
bulletAre you going to do a curry episode? "Normally I stay away from ethnic foods, but there will probably be a curry episode since it is a process just as much as a dish."
bulletOK, this was the funniest thing all night. Do you have a kid? "Yes, her name is Zoey. And yes she is a girl.” Will you do a baby food episode? "Well no, for two reasons. One, the nutritional requirements for children are very different them for adults. A child’s doctor has a better idea of what they need due to and one of a zillion special circumstances. I would not want to open myself up to any problems. Also, a show like that would not appeal to a broader audience. One day I would like to get together with a pediatrician and make an Alton Brown presents…. Not Good Eats, on how to feed your child. One of the reasons we have problems with eating and weight in the country is we are not taught how to handle food. I think that is something that we need to teach our kids. But I did get a little obsessed with making baby food. I am probably one of the only people in the world who ... (Long pause as he buried his head in the podium) MADE BUTTER WITH BREAST MILK!!! (Huge laughs from the audience) Well, one day I saw the pump and though, hmmmmmmmm ... Let me tell you the people at the dinner party did not appreciate that at all.”

Well, that’s all that I can remember off the top of my head. I’m sure he did not get out of there until after 9, because he said he would stay until he saw everyone, and there were about a hundred people he did not get to. I had to leave and get home; otherwise I would have more to share. (Yeah, like THAT’S possible.) But, I had a great time. When I went I was just casual fan, but by the time I got done, I was a full-fledged convert. Not just because I was laughed more then when I go to the Improv, but because I was struck by the fact that what I saw on Good Eats was real, and that there is the occasional nice guy who does make it. (Brings a tear to your eye, don’t it? Or it makes me sound like a tool) Anyway, sorry if this went on for too long and VERY sorry if I got any of the responses wrong or misquoted anyone (I did this all memory, no notes.). Thanks for reading.

PS They did give out some cool posters for the book, and I did get one. Alton looks like some sort of kitchen Wolverine from the X Men, but instead of claws he has measuring spoons and cups.

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OAKLAND, CA (June 14): By rwucla

I went with my fiancée to the Diesel Bookstore on Broadway in Berzerkely, California Friday night. This delightful little quaint bookstore held about 150 or so AB admirers that paled in comparison to the 4 to 5 hundred at the UCLA Festival of Books in April. We met Nicole and some other nice fans, but I didn’t see or meet any Fan Page folks – no ls10 or Brian. What was more apparent this time, however, was that AB appeared much more tired and sounded more rehearsed (not unexpected though, as we knew he had been in the middle of a rough stretch in his book signing tour).

AB’s definitely polished his repertoire. Right off the bat, he addressed FAQ’s about W, salt cellars, the GE kitchen, new episodes, etc. He then opened the floor for questions. After a flurry of "please tell me where I screwed up in your recipe” questions, there were a few funny comments about his hair, selling items on eBay, and of course to my embarrassment, lawyers. Even though I had heard some of these jokes before, AB still managed to make an effective humorous delivery. One of his favorite recipes is the Eggplant Parmesan and one of his favorite GE episodes is the garlic one with Vlad (40 cloves, etc.). The beer episode is in production, and the tuna episode airs this Wednesday. AB also passed around his own IJHFTF copy (that some bookstore supposedly made him buy when he misspelled a fan’s name in her book) that he has started to have his own fans sign. We signed on the "pig diagram” page – very cool.

So the questioning could have gone on for much longer, but after an hour or so, AB closed the session and started signing books. The line, at first amorphous and still, finally took order and started moving. We felt like pros having done the whole AB worshipping process before and had our process down pat: step up, ask your question, pass your item of choice to AB for his autograph, pose for picture, smile, snap, exit to the right and then exhale.

After 30 minutes, it was our turn. We first asked if he remembered us from LA (since we met him first then) and he of course did not. Then, daringly, we broke from decorum and asked a second, technical rib roast question, which he started answering while signing the page edges on 3-sides of our book as well as on one of the free GE posters Diesel gave away. And then, as I started hearing a disgruntled rumbling behind me, I proudly passed him our gift: a pair of relaxation balls.

What I can remember from the conversation:

R: Oh yeah, Alton, we also brought you a gift. Last time in LA, we only gave you half-eaten Krispy Kremes and felt bad about it. So here are a pair of relaxation balls (fyi: Lawrence Fishburne jingles them in his hands near the end of Boyz in da Hood).

AB: Wow, I’ve always wanted one of these!
  R: We figured you could use them since you must be feeling tired from all these
      book signings.
AB: Well thank you, now I can stop fondling my own (AB chuckling)

My fiancée: Oh Gawd!!!! I can’t believe you said that!

AB: Really, thank you very much.
  R: No problem. Also, Hallie from New Mexico says "hi”. From the New York
AB: New Mexico? Oh yeah… how did you know about THAT?
  R: The fan page, of course!
AB: (in the nicest possible way) Oh… anyone willing to travel that far has GOT to
      get a social life (AB chuckling again)

Well, Hallie, at least he mentioned you in the Rant. But after what happened later that night, I may end up there as well.

After we left, there were a good 50 people still left in line. We put away all our goodies in the car, and then headed to Giugli’s Italian restaurant a few stores down from Diesel’s. We relaxed, ate a nice dinner, saw some satisfied AB/GE fans walk by the window and started heading back to our car after about an hour. Upon passing Diesel, we looked in, curious to see if AB was still there. The line was gone and the clerk was cleaning up some of the chairs. It appeared as if she was also talking to someone around the side of the room where AB had been signing books, but we didn’t see who it was because our view was blocked.

We continued across the street and down a block to our car and started driving back towards Diesel (imagine Broadway is the top line in a "T” intersection” and we were driving up a side street from the bottom vertical line heading north). Right as I got to the stop sign and just about when I was wondering which way to turn to get back on the freeway, a fully tinted black town car comes racing from my left, then comes to a dead stop right in front of the Diesel Bookstore. We had the perfect vantage point when AB came running out like a rock star and threw himself into his getaway vehicle.

Now, believe it or not, I have never been the type of person to be a true ‘fanatic’. I don’t go crazy and gush over celebrities in public and truly do not condone any type of behavior that infringes on anyone’s privacy or freedom to move about like a normal citizen. So, understanding that, you will believe me when I tell you that when my fiancée started whacking me on my right arm telling me to follow, I had no intentions to do any such thing. Instead, my lawyerly brain cells went into overdrive and I rationalized… (me thinking to myself in a nanosecond) "AB must be going on the freeway because he is either going to San Jose to prep for his next appearance tomorrow or to the city (SF) to stay in some ritzy hotel. Either highway is a plausible route for me to take home. I am not sure how to get on the highway. AB’s driver is likely to know. Therefore, I will follow AB’s driver on the highway.”

"Ok, let’s follow him to get back on the highway,” I said.

Burning rubber was the last thing I smelled, and the next thing I knew, I tore into a left turn and was suddenly a makeshift CIA agent keeping my distance, yet not getting too far behind. He made a right. I made a right. He made a left. I made a left. I went ahead at a stoplight, and he pulled up right next to us. We didn’t flinch. My fiancée though she saw the outline of a guy with messy hair out of the corner of her eye, but wasn’t sure. After a couple more turns, I started wondering why it was taking so long to get to the highway. Pretty soon, I noticed the landscape had changed and we were suddenly on a sightseeing tour of greater industrial Oakland (not where you want to be at night). Broken cars, litter and strung-out individuals adorned the dimly-lit sidewalks. After about five more minutes, I looked in my rearview mirror and there were no more cars present. I could hear the sound of the freeway traffic in the distance. Reluctantly following some more, I now was regretting my decision and thus cursed my law school education. Clearly, the driver had noticed us. Uh-oh… And un-clearly, as we cruised into a cul-de-sac, the driver had either gotten lost or was instructed by security detail to see if his package was being followed.

As the town car made a u-turn and slowly started moving back towards us, I suddenly thought of being the subject of a Southwest Airlines commercial (motto: wish I was flying somewhere). We paused and both slinked down in our seats as the town car passed us by. I didn’t know whether to wave and smile like an idiot, put my hands up to surrender, or just look the other way. I think it was the latter. The car passed without incident, and we just idled for good measure before finding our way back home.


AB – please, if you’re reading this – WE ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SORRY if we caused any kind of concern for you or your driver. It was unintentional and we apologize. It looks like your Town Car company just needs GPS installed in its vehicles or perhaps some good maps.

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SAN JOSE, CA (June 15): By Mike from Fresno

Left Fresno a little after 10 in the morning and had no problems with traffic till we hit the 101 in SJ. Egads!! I don't know how people can deal with the traffic in the bay area... and this was a Saturday for god's sake. Not only was it bumper to bumper on the freeway, but bumper to bumper in the shopping mall!

Anyhow, we got to B&N about 1:15 for a 3 pm signing and most of the chairs were already claimed, so I found a nice quiet corner behind a table in front of a bookcase full of cookbooks. Met some nice people there, no one from the GEFP. Turned out to be really good seats, equivalent to front row. Just off to the side. Unobstructed.

As stated in a previous post, AB seems to have his act polished now. Did the intro bit - the long oral FAQ. Then went to Q&A.

One thing that stands out and I don't remember seeing in previous posts (but forgive me if I'm forgetful. I have been computer less for most of June and haven't been able to keep up here with any regularity):

2 more books in the next 2 years. Next book about baking, tentatively titled _I'm Just Here for More Food_, about baking (no surprise there) News to me was the word on his third book on Kitchen Tools. Met with a large round of applause. Woo Hoo.

The hour seemed to fly by. As expected was both genuine and humorous. One girl in the front row asked a question without raising her hand and AB went into full blown school teacher mode. "Ah ah. (Mild rebuke)." Then came back to get her question.

As I wind up my report and get to my bit of time with AB I must first give kudos to my wife for performing yeoman's duty with our two little ones (4 and 2). This trip to the book signing was a birthday (June 21) and Father's day present rolled into one. So whenever any of the kids got antsy or needed "to go to the potty" my wife (who likes AB in her own way) whisked to kids away, sacrificing what seemed to be most of the Q&A.
Three cheers if you're reading this at work, honey. But, even in this there is a silver lining.

After the Q&A the B&N assistants gave out instructions on how and where to stand in line. Unfortunately, I was about as far away from the start of the line and you could be. I was just getting ready for something like a 3-hour wait when I heard someone yelling across the store, "MICHAEL CLARK!! OVER HERE!" Seems that rather than fight and trample her way back to where we were standing after taking our son Gabe to the WC, they just ducked up a row and were standing around listening, and where they were was right at the beginning of the line. We were probably 20th to 30th to get our books signed. Thanks to the stars for our son's acorn sized bladder.

Got to be our turn with the man of the hour and he was incredibly gracious. Introduced himself. We introduced ourselves. He took time to talk to the kids. Both knew right away and told him who he was, "Alton Brown" It was kinda cute, but I wouldn't be surprised if he thought it was kinda creepy (indoctrinating youth and all).

We asked if he'd be willing to take 2 photos. He, of course, said yes. When he got up from behind the table for the family shot (I got the other with him, solo) he noticed my daughter had a Budget Rent-a-Car key chain. Then it was like regular old conversation time,

AB: where'd you come from that you needed a rental car
MC: Fresno
AB: Fresno, how far's that?
MC: Oh about 2 and a half, 3 hours
AB: (no response) but I can imagine him thinking, man these people just drove 3 hours in a rental car to see me ...

And just like that the bubble burst and our time was over and it was on to the next fan. After that it was Mission: Impossible time to sneak my book out of the store (I had bought mine months ago when it first came out and have long since lost the receipt) Actually, no problems at all, I had called beforehand and when I got to the store asked if it was a problem in the Info Kiosk.
Both said No. But I still can't help thinking, "Get to the signing early. Pick up the book. Carefully look like you're reading it. Slyly remove security devices... Voila"


12:51 pm: Right now I'm sitting in a chair at Barnes & Noble-Almaden waiting for 3:00pm to see Alton Brown from Good Eats on the Food Network in person. He is signing his first cookbook, I'M JUST HERE FOR THE FOOD. There are already six people here, so I better stake my place now.

1:45 pm: I think the chairs set up for the event filled up in about 20 minutes after I got here! Of course the area itself isn't that large, so I wonder how B&N will handle a possibly large crowd.

2:30 pm: People are starting to crowd around the sides and back of the event area. People are even standing in the next aisle over on both sides. Good thing I got here early! I wonder if this crowd will be as large as some of the others on the message board. It's at least five rows deep of people standing in the back.

4:49 pm: Well, I'm done and sitting in the parking lot. Lots of moments--

  1. Alton started on time at 3:00. He wore a thin black v-neck pullover sweater with a t-shirt underneath. Alton looks just like he looks on TV!
  2. He did a brief talk about his new book, I'M JUST HERE FOR THE FOOD, and then ran through a list of FAQ's to get those out of the way. Then he started his Q&A period. Alton is just as funny as he is on TV and as described on the message boards. I can't remember all the questions asked, but he often answered with humor. It was so fun to experience it all, and the audience loved it too. Unfortunately there was no cooking demo--probably because of location and lack of space.
  3. I asked Alton if there will be a book specifically on Good Eats in the future. He said he was thinking about a compendium-type book describing the making of the show and including script details and recipes that didn't make it on the air (Yes!). However no definite date at this time, and it sounds like he has one or two cookbooks that he is going to do first. Looks like I'm going to have to wait for that one.
  4. After about 45 minutes of questions, the most embarrassing question was the last one--someone asking for his comments on the "butter incident". Supposedly Alton had tried making butter out of BREAST MILK after he and his wife had a baby! This had been brought up earlier on the message boards. Alton hung his head in shame and admitted it was true (". . .well, I had the milk and the pump. . .!")--and the audience was howling! He said his wife was going to kill him when he got home. He also said the butter tasted flat--maybe if his wife ate more hay. . .!
  5. Then came the book signing. I actually managed to position myself toward the front, so it was perhaps 15-20 minutes before I met Alton. And when I did--I became tongue-tied and didn't offer any big comments. The people in front of me didn't try for big conversations either, so I was afraid to. But he shook my hand, and I did give him a gift--five pewter charms in the shape of kitchen items (frying pan, whisk, eggs, beer, and a "salt cellar" [face powder container]). Alton thanked me and said he will probably give them to his daughter. This all went by pretty quickly, and I wish I could have talked more, but it was still fun. I was also the first one to give him a gift--I don't know if anyone else did. 6. I browsed around B&N some more before I left. The line of people snaked all over the store. At one point I heard Alton shout to every- one still in line to hang in there--that he would still be there as long as they were still there.

It was a fun day. A few regrets, but I was thrilled to actually meet a Food Network chef--especially one as fun as Alton Brown. I hope he comes back when his next book comes out!

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PORTLAND, OR (June 17): By Kero

Well, I made it to the Portland signing last night - took a bit of effort, as my husband wouldn't be home from work early enough to drive us there in time, so my daughter and I had to avail ourselves of the local public transit. (MAX/Tri-Met from the Portland / Gresham border to Jantzen Beach. Ew.) Unfortunately, since it was raining cats and dogs, I had to leave my instamatic at home for fear of it getting sodden, so no pix. I also brought one of the DVDs to get signed instead of my copy of the book for the same reason. My husband got to the B&N about 5 minutes after we did, so our daughter could sit with him.

There was a fairly sizeable crowd - I couldn't see how far back it went. Fortunately for me, I came prepared, so I got a front-row seat. (more on this later) Paige the store event coordinator came out a few times during the 1 1/2 hours we waited to explain the rules and keep the crowd cheerful.

Finally, AB himself came out. It's true, he doesn't doesn't dress like he does on the show - he was wearing a long-sleeved black sweater and gray khakis. He did seem rather taken aback at the size of the crowd, so I think he's still realizing just how popular he is. He razzed us a bit about the weather (first rain he's seen on his tour), and made a couple jokes about the standard-issue mike-and-speaker setup provided. Then he got down to business.

He didn't really talk much about putting the book together, except to assure us that it wasn't GE in print, and pretty much went right to the questions. We were all in stitches for most of the discussion, and as my husband pointed out afterward, if it were something he cared about, AB could make a decent career in standup. I really wished I had at least a tape recorder there.

There was teasing of the culinary students in the audience, and half praise/half surprise at the people who had three or four or five copies of the book to sign. He also talked about -

  1. Outtakes - there aren't more because he tends to swear profusely in them. Particularly from the old set, as the stove was so woefully underpowered that they preheated pans and rehung them so they'd be remotely close to temp at taping time. Nothing like grabbing a hot cast-iron pan and then dropping it on your head to get the profanity flowing.
  2. Grilling/BBQ/Rubs - Lots of questions on this. He prefers vinegar based sauces to tomato based. He doesn't add extra sugar to pork rubs because he invariably brines/marinates the pork first, and the sugar would just burn anyway. This second question was accompanied by a rant regarding the tastelessness of American mainland pork due to the demands of the health police and an anecdote about how when he had pork in Hawaii, he thought the meat had gone off until he realized that it was just that it actually had flavor. He owns 5 charcoal grills and no gas ones, because you just can't get grilled taste out of a gas grill. This was accompanied by an anecdote about weirding out the neighbors by grilling ice cubes. As far as potential cancer-causing agents in grilling, his response was "what doesn't these days?" However, he keeps the lid on as much as possible to prevent flare-ups, as soot is a lousy flavoring agent.
  3. Pre-packaged vs. Fresh Ingredients - He teased the guy who asked this one (a professional baker) a bit, as the questioner had to work at not saying "kick it up a notch". "You want the Bam? You can't handle the Bam!" He says there's nothing wrong with mixes in some cases as "I can't make a chocolate cake as well as Duncan Hines", although he did draw the line at Kraft Mac & Cheese, which the questioner used as an example. He also took this opportunity to moderately criticize the overemphasis on "Fresh" ingredients in food circles these days, pointing out that in a large percentage of cases, particularly in the south, frozen bagged veggies are much more likely to be truly fresh than the "fresh" stuff that got trucked cross-country.
  4. Oil - Nothing ruins extra-virgin olive oil faster than cooking with it. The way to get decent truffle oil is to make it yourself - the stuff on the shelves packaged in the pretty glass bottles to show it off is nearly always rancid, since oil needs to be kept cool and dark to stay fresh. Crisco is very good for cooking with, since it has to be really pure to be solidified, so there aren't many elements left to "stink up the house" with.
  5. Salt - The question was "Since I started watching your show, I converted over from table salt to kosher salt. Why exactly did I do that?" Needless to say, this caused "because you're under my control"-style ribbing. He then went on to give the standard answers about how it's easier to pick up and control distribution, it's not as strong, it doesn't have additives, etc. There was also a cautionary note about not confusing kosher salt with sea salt, as the latter has a whole bunch of other salts and compounds in it ... including "fish pee".
  6. Vegetarianism - This came up after he admitted, with caveman-ish mannerisms that since he's a guy, his favorite thing to cook was meat. He doesn't mind vegetarians, as they've made a choice about their place in the world regarding food, much like choosing to patronize the baker down the street instead of baking your own bread because you want him to stay in business. He doesn't like pushy veggies or vegans, though. This last point was illustrated by an anecdote about the time when he was working in a restaurant and some vegans came in and requested food cooked in pans that had never touched meat.
  7. Wine - He doesn't cook with the expensive stuff because a) he doesn't have the budget for it and b) if he's going to pay that much, he's going to drink it, not cook with it. He likes wine, but if push came to shove at the end of the day and he were offered a glass of wine or a beer, he'd take the beer. Additional compliments were paid to local microbrews.

I didn't get to ask a question myself, as there were so many things I wanted to ask that I couldn't settle on just one.

I could go on with anecdotes, but this is getting way too long, so I'll cut to a couple points.

New episodes - Later this month, with an hour special planned for July. 12 more episodes to be taped later this year. More releases on VHS/DVD in the pipeline. Apparently, FoodTV has taken the first 3 seasons out of regular rotation.

AB Goods - Accompanied by the story of how they were surprised by the original salt cellar debacle - More salt cellars in July, redesigned plunger cups in late July/early August, new aprons in the works, AB & Co. are looking for a new distributor for the rocket ship teakettle - apparently the old company isn't selling them anymore, but they are still being
manufactured, so when one is found, a link will be provided, but AB won't be selling them directly.

As expected, I was a complete spasm when I actually met AB. I seem to have terminal celebrity foot-in-mouth. I was wearing my GE shirt (Briner Blue, Baseball style, Red sleeves), and AB said he liked it. Like a complete goon, instead of saying something like "thanks, have you seen the back", I go "well, you should". He razzed me a little about that, and I told him how much we all appreciated him giving Mike the interview. He said it was no problem because Mike does good work. Unfortunately, I'd been so busy I hadn't had time to pick up a small gift for Zoey like I'd intended, so I feel a little badly about not having anything to give him. I did get the chance to sign his book, though. Apparently, he collects signatures from his fans in each of the towns he goes to. Very neat.

As a side note to anyone attending a Signing at a Barnes & Noble branch - call ahead and see if they have any special goodies for Preferred Reader members. I signed up a couple months ago because their promotional material indicated special seating for events, and boy did it pay off. As mentioned earlier, I had a front-row seat, because they reserved the seats for the first 15 people who showed their cards. Another benefit of this was that, since the autograph queue was set up by row, I was very early in the line. This was a good thing, since school doesn't end until Thursday, so I had to get my daughter home, fed and in bed. Also, anyone who showed their card on the way out got a promotional poster and bookmark. Granted, membership does cost $25, but it's good for 10% off all year, so if you shop there anyway, it's a good deal.

I guess that's about it. Sorry if it's a little too verbose. :)

    Second Post

Some things I remembered I wanted to put in the first time but forgot...

  1. Someone asked "Is W your wife?" AB's response was that not only isn't W his wife, but she doesn't particularly like him, with a crack about how she's only there for the money. I got the impression that he meant the actress herself doesn't particularly care for him, so the animosity-tinged banter may not be all play-acting. From here he went into a "riff" about how he doesn't know where his wife's living right now - she calls occasionally, but that's about it. My husband and I are still debating whether or not he was serious or joking when he said that, particularly in
    the light of the "ex-wife" and missing ring comment made in a post here on the list. (Sorry, I can't remember -which- post, as I've plowed through about 2 weeks of posts in the last couple days.) I didn't think to look at his hands when he was here, but he was wearing the ring on Rosie.
  2. He doesn't have cable anymore, as he doesn't much have time to watch TV, but Zoey sees the show occasionally at friends' and relatives' houses. Her basic reaction is "Hi, Daddy". Apparently, she's at the age where she thinks everybody's daddy has a TV show because hers does.
  3. If he had a show to do over, it would be "The chicken show". He was referring to Fry Hard II, as he talked about the Poe pastiche not flowing right.
  4. Someone asked "What do you advise cooking with kids?". This led to the joking answer of just about anything, but roasts would be good, since they're nice and tender. He followed up with the serious answer that really just about anything would be fine, as children are very receptive, and he enjoys working with them.
  5. He seemed genuinely touched when one audience member told him that the show was part of her home schooling curriculum.
  6. Someone did bring up Thomas Dolby - it wasn't me, I swear! ;) - to which AB's quick response was "I didn't start that!". The guy who did mention TMDR (Thomas Morgan Dolby Robertson - force of habit) later yelled across the parking lot on the way out to ask me how to get the GE Fan Club shirt, so I directed him to Mike's page. At least I think I did - I may have misspoken the URL.
  7. Someone asked where he was eating while he was in town, and he went off about how much pressure there is to eat at this place or that joint, and most of the time, by the time he was back at his hotel, he was so tired he'd just pick up the phone, say "club sandwich" and call it good.
  8. Someone else asked if he'd be on Iron Chef if it were still in production. His basic response was "What are you, nuts? I've never even heard of half the stuff they have on that show! Here's the right way to nail an eel's head to a table! Maybe if it were Battle Moon Pie or something..." He then went into the standard bit comparing IC to wrestling.
  9. Someone asked who his favorite "other" chef at FTV was. He made a joke about how the questioner was really looking for dirt, and then said that surprisingly enough, Bobby Flay is a really great guy. He wants to dislike Emeril, but he just can't manage it, and is really impressed with him for taking over Delmonico's. He says that Mario's place Babbo has the best food in NYC. He hasn't ever been to Ming Tsai's place, but understands it's very good. He then went on to say that he's not really "one of the guys", since he doesn't have a restaurant and doesn't live in or near NYC, so it's hard to fit in.
  10. Someone wanted to know what happened to "The French Chef" - he explained that Rooney had "moved up in the world" and had gone to Italy with Mario, and then referenced that show being cancelled.
  11. Someone wanted to know if FTV was hard to work with. First, he referenced having been in advertising for 10 years, so he's pretty much been screwed every way you can be, and then said that the FTV people were great, mostly leaving him to his own devices. They did ask him to tone down the "Misery" homage, though - "So you're saying your fan base is comprised of homicidal maniacs....You might want to rethink that."
  12. There were some other standard questions - "Is Marsha really your sister?" (no, I would've killed her by the time we were 12) "Why did you learn to cook?" (to meet girls) Brining (it's better to soak it too long than not long enough) Requests for topics already covered like pickling and preserving (we've already done that, so we anticipated your wishes).
  13. It was really funny - after a good while, he said "Okay, 3 more questions". After 6-8 or so more questions, he repeated the 3 questions comment. Finally, after 3-4 more questions, he said "Okay, this is the last one". He said he'd be there as long as anyone was there to get something signed or talk to him. Unfortunately, the bookstore personnel wanted to keep things flowing, so they were lining people up, making sure everything was opened to the right place so he could just sign it without fumbling around, etc. Made for a much less organic experience.

Oddly enough, I cannot for the life of me remember whether or not we shook hands. I do remember looking at him while he was signing and completely believing the comments he made somewhere a while back about being a basically less than optimistic personality. For all his smart-alecness when he's "on", when he got to talk to people one-on-one during the signing portion of the evening, he struck me as being genuinely sincere and grateful to his fans, not full of himself a bit. It was something in his eyes, I think.

I wished I could have stuck around longer to see how the signing progressed, but as I said in the previous message, I had to get my daughter home for school the next day. I suppose it's just as well - if I'd been able to stick around, I probably would've gone into major fan-girl mode, and that tends to get embarrassing. Well, more embarrassing than I already was, anyway. But like I said, I always feel awkward around celebrities and other people I admire.

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SEATTLE, OR (June 18): By Heather

I said I would post about the Seattle book signing last night, and so I shall. Here is my recollection of the Alton Brown book signing at Third Place Books, June 18, 2002.

I decided to go to the signing directly from work for three reasons. One, I had never been to that particular bookstore before. Two, I have the worst sense of direction ever. Three, I get lost very easily. So I armed myself with two different sets of directions from Mapquest and set out.

I managed to find the book store with no problems. Amazing! I got there about 5:20, found parking and walked in. The first thing I saw was Alton’s smiling face on a poster in front of the entrance. There was a small handbill stuck to the poster advertising the signing…and DEMO! Woo hoo! Now, I thought that AB might be giving a demo because I knew the bookstore hosted cooking classes and therefore had a demo facility, however, I had emailed the bookstore 6 weeks ago and asked that very question and got no response. I had resigned myself to the fact that it was just going to be the regular Q&A session before the signing, and I was fine with that. So the demo was a pleasant surprise.

I snatched up a copy of The Book, paid for it, and was directed to the far corner of the food court (yes a food court. This is the coolest bookstore ever!) where the demo kitchen was located. There were about 50 or so chairs set up, and the first 3 rows were already full. I took a seat in the fourth row and smirked to myself. I knew they were going to need more chairs, and sure enough, before the demo they had to add maybe a hundred more chairs, and some people actually had to sit in the food court at the tables.

Anyway, AB was there already when I sat down, chitchatting with the people there while he prepared a chicken. It was still an hour before demo time. He is so funny! He kept us all entertained until he left the stage at about 5:45. Someone teased him that he was leaving to do his hair and makeup, and he laughed and said that if he didn’t do hair and makeup for the show, why would he do it for us? He said that people ask him all the time how he gets his hair to do what it does, and he always tells them he does it by never touching his hair. Ever. He says when it is falling out at the rate his is, he is afraid to let anything touch it. He was on his way to a green room somewhere when a lady with the world’s cutest baby stopped him and asked him to sign her book so she could take the kid home to bed. Alton agreed and offered to do it for anyone else with kids. No one else wanted him to at that time.

He left and I had an hour to kill before the demo, so I began looking through The Book. I hadn’t seen it yet, so I started reading. It is a great book. I am a vegetarian, so some of the info in the book I won’t need, but it is very interesting anyway.

The Demo got started a little late due to TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. They couldn’t find a Madonna-style headset microphone for AB that worked, so he had to use a conventional stand mic. He only hit himself in the head with it a couple of times. I felt bad for the people in the back, because he moved around a lot, and if he was more than a few inches from the mic you couldn’t here him. I could here him in his regular voice without the mic from where I was.

He brined and roasted a chicken in a flower pot like in the book. It was pretty short. Then he did the Q&A session. He answered all the same questions that he had answered at previous signings about the beer and salt episodes, W, Marsha, his nephew on the show, upcoming shows, the Labor Day weekend marathon, and episodes on DVD. He said that there will be DVD sets coming out, but that they would be the most popular episodes, not season by season. AB told us that if we wanted them by season we would have to email Food TV and tell them that. So now we all have our mission. Email Food TV and convince them to put ALL the Good Eats episodes in a DVD box set.

After the demo and questions, they started the actual signing. Because I was close to the front for the demo, I ended up being close to the back of the line for the signing. It took me about an hour and a half to get through the line. Alton was very nice. I asked him if he would ever do a rice episode, and he said he already did one (Power to the Pilaf) in Season One. Whoops! In my defense, I only started getting Food TV about a year and a half ago. He said they would be showing it again. He signed my book and the lid of my salt cellar, and then grabbed the salt cellar box and said, "I’ll sign this, too, as a bonus!” Alton was just as cool in person as he is on TV.

His assistant for the Seattle signing told me that there was about 450 people there, so obviously AB has a huge following here. All in all it was a fun evening.

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CHICAGO, IL: Sur La Table (June 19): By ChicagoMike

To start off, if anyone has never been to a Sur La Table (with the –le silent with long a sound) store, you have to go there at least once. It is almost a culinary lovers paradise. Well my roommate and I arrived there and Alton was at the counter talking and signing before the class. Just like everyone has said in the past, he is VERY personable. The roomie was amazed on how short he was. (Looking at the photo that Alex took, he looks like he is just less than 6 foot). The class was packed. I would say 50 people.

Most of the people in the room were in awe. He charmed and humored everyone with the wit that he shows on Good Eats to a point that after a short while people were at ease with chatting with him and asking him questions.
And now some of the highlights of the cooking class:

bulletHe mentioned that he use to live in Chicago. Said something about his first wife and, with a mock pain, said Chicago brought up memories of her.
bulletSomeone asked about the plunger, he said that if they can’t get someone to produce them, that he would put a link on the his web site on where people can order them.
bulletAs he was cutting up the chicken he started to do the Julia Child voice then stop and say, " You know…. the only way people really remember Julia Child is from the Dan Ackroyd impersonation” and laughed.
bulletWhen the conversation was up about eating the chicken skin, when people (actually most of the women) went "Ewww”, he stared at the class for a second of two and said, "Why not??…It’s the best part!!” and told a story on how, when he was working a restaurant, that when people would order chicken with no skin, the guys in the back would collect the skins throughout the shift. At break time, they would deep fry the skins and make Fried Chicken Skin Sandwiches. He said it made a mess around the fryer but it was worth it. All the GUYS in the class did a collective "MMmmmmm” and some drooled (even right now as I type) like Homer Simpson.
bulletAbout a blooper tape…he would like to have blooper outtakes but in his own words, " Shortly after I make a mistake, I cuss. My sound guys said that the could edit the sound out but people can read the mouthing”
bulletThe one-hour show will be on July 21st. It is a Gilligan’s Island/Survivor outtake. He shot some in Hawaii and some in a sound stage in California [ed- Actually, Atlanta]. He said that he would love to do more location shots saying, "I went to Food TV and said, we need to do this in (I missed that location)…that’s what the fans want!!” Which got a good laugh from the class.
bulletSomeone asked about stuffing the bird…that’s right…. the person got booed.
bulletWhen he was talking about salmonella, he asked if anyone got salmonella. No response. Then he said that he got it 2 months ago. "Its not fun…. unless you like counting floor tiles”
bulletWhen he tried to get the camera to zoom in on the Chip Chop in the cast iron, it broke. Aawwwwwww. But we all had a full pork chop and it looked as well as tasted delicious.
bulletMade mention about the shrimp brining fiasco at the Santa Monica (?) Sur La Table class with brining for 45 minutes instead of 30. The shrimp was good, but for my taste it was still a little salty
bulletAn employee from the store asked him if that was his real sister and nephew. I groaned softly. He explained that it wasn’t his sister and nephew. That the only "real” browns were his mother and grandmother. After he said that Ma Mae (sp) died from a stroke in November, he paused. I recognized that look he gave after saying that. My mother passed away last June. They say that the eyes are the windows of the soul. For the briefest of moments, I can tell that he silently reminisced about her. He closed that real fast with, "…yea…she owed my $5 dollars” which brought some soft laughter.
bulletFavorite moment: As he was prepping the chicken for the flowerpot, someone in front took his photograph. With a fake look of disgust, he stuck his hand in the chicken butt and held it up like a puppet. I asked the person who took that photo to email me a copy, which in turn I will email Mike here on GEFP.
bulletZoey will not appear in anymore episodes. "I thought that I wouldn’t need an unlisted number but when a guy is knocking at your door with out of state plates saying that he wanted to meet you…..” He also mentioned that the misses figured it was in the best interest of Zoey that she doesn’t appear.

Met Alex and his girlfriend from this website. Cool guy with equally cool shirt. Didn’t go to Johnny Rockets, like I was planning on doing, because it was running late and we were all tired.

CHICAGO, IL: Borders (June 20): By ChicagoMike

If you read my previous post, I planned a pre book signing get together at FoodLife in the famous Water Tower Place Mall just across from the Borders.

Was there at 5:00. Was the only geeky looking Hawaiian shirt wearing person in that area . At around 5:20 no one showed up so I headed to the Borders to see what the crowd was like this early before the signing. When I arrived, all the seats were taken. They had a queue line behind the seats, which was filled and out the room by 6:30. They had an area for people who were not getting a book signed off to the side. When I use to work at the Museum of Science and Industry, I use to do head counts. At my guesstimation, I would say that close to 400 people were there.

And now some of the highlights of the book signing:

bulletThere was an alternate rib roast episode done. They didn’t like it so they did a different one. No plans on if they are going to air that one.
bulletHe brought up the Chicago connection saying that he was here in 1988-89-90 and again joked about his first wife.
bulletSome one asked about doing a show about small kitchen spaces. He said that the kitchen that’s on GE was not his kitchen and that his actual kitchen was as big as his signing table. He said that one in the works is titled, "Space the final frontier”
bulletPlans in the works for a charity E-bay prop auction.
bulletSome one asked about his daughter and if she helped him cook. He replied, "Zoey is 2 years old. And No…she doesn’t cook. Its not like I say ‘Zoey ... look at the cuisenart ... see how your hand fits into the food shoot (sp)’” He later said that he has a small foot stool for her and she helps him with cookie dough and things of that nature.
bulletSomeone asked about the tidbits that they show occasionally throughout the show. Alton said that he was thinking about doing a good eats book that has the tidbits in them. But he doesn’t have them in written anywhere. Someone made mention about the GEFP. "Oh…that’s right. There is a guy who has a web page who tapes every episode and transcribes them to his web site. I go on there one in a while…some of the folks from Food TV check out the site to see how the fans are like. Believe me…they look.”
bulletFavorite moment: When he had the FANS sign a copy of the book for him. I thought that showed how much he really appreciated the fans and how they love the show.
bulletFavorite moment 2: Guy in front row with clay…later to find out that he brought it for Alton’s handprint ala Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

After the 45 minutes Q&A (which was suppose to be 30 minutes) they started signing. At that point, I just grabbed a pre-signed book for my roommate’s coworker and left. I went up and down the line looking for Tymoria (and to see if anyone else from GEFP would recognize me) and I didn’t see her. Must have missed her ... but then again when I sat down on the "El” and seen my reflection in the window, with signs of stress from work and lack of sleep recently on my face on top of the humidity that was in the air that day in Chicago, I probably wouldn’t want to acknowledge me either.

I know that I probably missed out on some other tidbits about the book signing so if Tymoria (or anyone else for that matter) wants to add on to this post, go right ahead.

One thing I really want to stress to everyone is that Alton said that if we want to have a compilation of GE seasons on DVD, we have to contact Food TV and let them know that we want season compilations instead of compilations based on foods. I’m going to write snail mail to Food TV and let them know that I want a season box sets.

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by Tymoria

The same woman who asked about Zoey in the kitchen also asked about "organic food" then her 15 month kid scooted away from her as Alton started answering her question. He said, "Hey, where are you going?" Back and forth about her sleeping with her children... She said she didn't remember what her husband looked like. Alton said that was more information then he wanted to know. Then he said he forgot what her question was. Then he said, "Oh yeah you asked about Organic food... He said thank God he got the syllables right.

Someone asked him about how he got into cooking. He said that he really started cooking to get dates. Someone asked him if he was going to do another show. He said, "Oh yeah, you'll be the one who'll ask when the next book is coming out. Look lady do you think I'm a machine? The he kinda looked down and said, "I wished I could have gotten the women in college to think that."

Someone asked Alton why he liked kosher salt. He asked if anyone had been converted to using kosher salt. He asked people if they liked it and why. Then he asked if there were any problems. The guy with clay/silly putty said he breathed it in when he cooked. Alton suggested he stop breathing when he cooked.

Uh Mike I thought he said he missed Chicago. He said he leaves for 10 years and we let the town go to hell. He went looking for a place called Chicago Dogs (or is it Dawgs?) and it was gone. He had his mouth all set for cheese fries.

This is pretty long, but what the heck ...

Before I start some observations:

  2. Never allow your book out of your sight if you pre-buy it. PARTICULARLY, don't leave it with a realtive and expect them to meet you on time

After the Q&A, I nearly the last in line I was shaking like a leaf. Alton took phone calls (Hi Carla!!! Flowerchick ...YOU RULE!) One of the nice employees at Borders who in line a head of me gave me a poster.

Then it was my turn. He introduced himself and I had a million things for him to sign. The poor dear signed each and every one of them. He posed for two pictures with my sister and I. I gave him a dogbert squeeze toy and a twin flame lighter (he said, "ooh it lights up? and then the twin flames ignited and he said Oh Jeeze, Cool! Then he said, they won't let me through security at the airport with this!) I was so excited that I forgot to sign Alton's book. I went back to sign it. He said, you mean I forgot to sign your book with all that? I said, "No I forgot to sign YOUR book. He said, "That's just wrong" I said, "I know, that's why I came back" I signed the book and then my sister signed. Afterward, I offered him his pen back and he said, "No you keep it." Like an nut I said no this is your pen. He said, "No, no no you keep it, I'm giving you my sharpie, my favorite pen."

On the way out I asked him if he was going to sing in anymore episodes. He said you want me to sing? I said i had a friend who thought he should do an album. He laughed and said remember what happened to David Soul!

DETROIT / ANN ARBOR, (June 21): By Kristina

So, what do you do in a Borders for 4 hours? You wait around. We had arranged to meet with Carolyn (flowerchick) and we knew what she would be wearing. After we had wandered around a bit, we saw a lady matching the description. Actually, my mom saw her.

"Are you Carolyn?” Mom asked. The woman in turquoise looked puzzled and cocked her head a bit.

"Uh, yeah! Oh yeah!” she said, realizing who we were. We sat and talked to her until they set up the chairs for the event.

A lady came over when the chairs were set up. "You guys were here first; you can pick where you want to sit.” We picked the front row center seats. We chatted and watched the place fill up. Then it filled up more. Then the elevator would open and the people couldn’t even get out. There were heads peeking over rows of shelves and people milling around. It was really crowded.

Finally, after a very funny guy told us to keep a path open for the people who just wanted coffee, AB came out. Drew, the funny guy, had distracted us, so AB appeared from nowhere.

"Wow, uh, could you guys count off for me? It will only take a minute. . . 487, 488,” AB was shocked at the vast number of people. He started off with his talk about heat, and that cooking is manipulating heat. "Nobody wants to argue with me, right?” He said about another sentence.

"What’s Gazpacho?” someone shouted.

"What?!?” AB was confused for a second. Someone was trying to be funny about arguing with him about the cooking definition. "Gazpacho is a cross between an Argentinean cowboy and a Nazi police officer. Your hand was not up. It’s like school: you raise your hand, I call on you.” He continued with the normal stuff, all about the show and that he isn’t married to W and that Marsha isn’t his sister. "I would still be doing hard time because I would have killed her before she turned 12.”

While he was talking, the boy next to Carolyn was taking a picture of AB with his camera held a good distance away from his face. It was a digital camera with a display on the back. That’s what he was looking at. AB leaned over and dropped his jaw, prompting the picture on my website. "Son, please put the camera down. Obviously you don’t know how to use it.” He was very acerbic and dry, but it was all in good fun.
Then the questions started. I don’t remember all of the questions, nor would I bore you with all of them. Some of them were the normal stuff, but some were different, and funny.

"Is there anything you wouldn’t do a show about?” the kid sitting next to Carolyn asked.

"We have a network of grocery stores that we call. Ones in South Dakota, Kansas, all over. We see if they have the ingredient. If they don’t, we don’t do the show. We weren’t going to do the lobster show, but everybody had it. Anyway, we were in the process of doing a Blue Crab show. Those guys are feisty in the season. One jumped at me and I had to sort of dodge it with my tongs. I suddenly had a flash of a six year old with a crab stuck to his nose,” he pinched on of his nostrils as though a crab were attached to it and started jumping around and screaming. "Then I could just see they lawyers coming.” He trudged in place, imitating the lawyers. "That just goes to show you, you don’t want a case of crabs.” I swear, he said it.

Another question came from a young woman: "Do you have a younger brother?”

"Okay, now let me dissect this question.” He considered it for a moment: "what I am hearing is ‘you are old!’ No, I am an only child.” Ha ha, very funny. I doubt that is what she meant. "I’m a little sensitive; I turn 40 next month.”

Another question was "what is your favorite dessert,” from a young boy.

"YES! The whole concept of dessert is what I like. Except red velvet cake; I’m not crazy about that.”

Carolyn’s question prompted the most interesting answer, in my opinion. "What are your professional goals for the future?”

"I am working on a project to get all of the science classes at a school together in the cafeteria and explain how the sciences are all connected. How many people dissected a fetal pig dunked in formaldehyde?” Many of us raised our hands. "Exactly. How many of you have used that? I thought so. Why not dissect a chicken, then cook it and eat it. Teach them how to cook something!” The description was much longer, and much more in depth, but you get the idea. It sounded like a great idea; I hope he gets it done.

Someone else asked him about the switch in production companies.

He talked about Means Street, and the new one. He said "that’s my company. All mine: It’s good to be the king!” You’ve got to love the Mel Brooks reference. "Of course, there is a queen too,” he dropped his head and looked a little sad "and she has the cash box.”

The funniest response came to the question ”why does Food Network show shows over and over, but Good Eats is only on twice a week?” Not exactly the case, but close enough.

He answered the question, but the woman suddenly yelled, "BAM!” implying that Emeril Live was the show she was sick of. Alton ran and jumped under the signing table and hid for a minute. He looked up and said, "you can’t just say that word whenever; we don’t want to get in too much trouble!” He finished answering (after standing up) by saying that if they showed Good Eats that much, people would complain that it was just all Alton, all the time.

I got myself into a bit of trouble. Someone asked what the biggest blooper was. He started to explain the big gash in the head story. I will have to find a link to the story, because I had heard it before. I started giggling a bit. He looked over at me. "You have heard this one before, huh?” I nodded. "You think it is funny, huh?”
"I think it is funny when you tell it,” I answered.

"Do you want to tell it?” he was trying to prod me some more. I guess I had a funny look on my face. "She actually thought about it!” Then he proceeded with the story.

Toward the end of the question and answer session, my mom got in trouble. Her phone rang. She has this horrible ring that my husband set to be obnoxious. My scalp tightened. AB looked over at her as she grabbed the phone and turned it off. "Is that your phone? That is the worst little song I have ever heard! Turn that off, I don’t want to hear that again” he did a little dance simulating the song. "I have to take some more questions now. That nauseated me, that song.” I was so embarrassed. It turned out to be my dad, just calling to see what we were doing. What a dork. He knew what we were doing. Why in the world did he call?

Then we moved to the signing line. We were 5th or so in line. Carolyn called Carla and handed AB the phone. Her answering machine picked up and he said "Carla? Why aren’t you picking up the phone?” She must have picked up the phone. "Oh, now you pick up the phone.” He was signing the book for her as they talked. I don’t think she knew that Carolyn had bought it for her. It was very funny.

Carolyn had already had her book signed, first she had purchased one pre-signed, then Eric took it for her and had it personalized. She had him write "Alton [heart graphic] Carolyn,” like we did in grade school. He did it, and didn’t miss a beat. She told him that the three of us (Carla, Carolyn and I) were from the fan page, and that my mom and I drove 9 hours.

"Where are you from?” He seemed shocked. We told him, and I presented him with a box of candy made in Evansville. He seemed appreciative, and signed my book "thanks for coming.” My mom had a book for my dad’s secretary’s birthday. As he signed it, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t had him sign my salt cellar. He grabbed it and signed the lid and said "of course!” We then got our pictures taken. I got my picture with him by myself, then Mom came over. I felt like we were holding up the line and said sorry.

"Hey, you drove 9 hours, you can have all the time you want.” He made some other comment about it and Mom and I look like dorks in the picture because we were laughing at him. I’m sure you wondered why the picture is goofy. We moved along and headed out. It was a really great experience. I will edit this, probably add more, and will post it on a website for everyone to see who cares. I’m sorry it is so rough. We just got back to the apartment (we are staying with my uncle in Detroit) two hours ago. Hope you enjoyed it.

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   Borders Luncheon: By amy

Thursday, June 20th, way too early in the morning. Borders corporate headquarters, Ann Arbor, MI. I’m in day one of a management training class. Icebreaking moment. “Hi, my name is Amy. I’m the inventory manager for one of the Houston stores. I’m a fan of Good Eats, and I have neatly arranged my training to coincide with Alton Brown’s signing at Store 1.”

“Oh, yeah,” says the trainer, “There are a bunch of fans here. You know he’s going to be giving a talk at lunch tomorrow?”

Hope rises. “There was an e-mail sent out last week that said the first 20 people who responded would get to have lunch with him. I think the server crashed from the volume of replies. They were full up in seconds.” Hope dashed against an exceptionally sharp rock of disappointment.

Friday, June 21st, noon. Hope has returned. I’m wandering the halls wondering if I could maybe sneak into the luncheon. Where could they be? Laughter from one of the smaller conference rooms. Ah-ha! A nasty green sign on the closed door reads LUNCHEON WITH / ALTON BROWN / BY INVITATION ONLY! Hope stomped upon.

A hasty meal later, I’m wandering by the conference room again. Perhaps, says hope, I can at least hear some of what’s going on. Reason concludes that I am obsessive and delusional. But this time, hope wins out.

The door to the hallowed room is open & there’s a group gathered around. I can’t see AB, but I can hear him. Good enough. Gradually the people in front of me wander off and I’m all alone on the threshold. Suddenly a Hand reaches out and pulls me inside. I guess I’ve just been invited. Sweet.

AB is in the middle of a Q&A session. Both the questions and AB’s answers are as near as I can remember them. Please do not interpret these as actual quotes. (In the publishing business, they call this creative nonfiction. Go figure.)

Q. Something about the relationship between cooking with aluminum foil and Alzheimer’s.
A. No. There’s no connection. You get far more aluminum from a single antacid tablet than from cooking in foil. Now if you ate the foil too…

Q. Do you watch Iron Chef?
A. Oh yeah. I love that show. In fact, did any of you see the spoof we did last season called Scrap Iron Chef? Yeah, that pretty much canceled out any chance I ever had of being asked on.

I always wonder though where they get all those starlets. (Insert AB doing impression of Japanese starlet here.) Every time you tune into a show it’s a new one. (Insert AB doing another impression of Japanese starlet here. I can’t even describe—it was so funny.) How many starlets does Japan have anyways? And the judging. (In dubbed tones.) Yes, this is a wonderful new twist on a traditional food. You lose!

I think the important thing about Iron Chef—not to be too philosophical about it—is the way it introduces to the American audience how another cultures views food. And it’s just so over the top. Where else can you see someone nail a live eel to a cutting board?

We (Good Eats and Iron Chef) generally trade the number two slot in the ratings. Emeril? He just way up here (gestures over his head). The pinnacle. But us and Iron Chef –sometimes it’s them and sometime it’s us. (Someone asks where Martha Stewart is in the ratings.) Martha? I think she’s got other worries right now. (Laughter) She’ll probably be running reruns for a while.

Q. What do you have in mind for the future? Are you working on anything beyond Good Eats?
A. Currently we’re working on getting corporate sponsorship so we can go into the schools. I’m talking junior high and high school. I don’t know about you, but I was a terrible student. There isn’t a science class that I didn’t take two or even three times. That’s not even counting college where I dropped them if I knew I wasn’t going to pass. I want to go into a school cafeteria and take students from say third period History, Biology, Physics, Math, Chemistry, bring them together and have them work through those respective disciplines through food. Show the kids that everything is interrelated. Science doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

My public school education taught me that learning was boring. Learning didn’t have anything to do with the real world. It wasn’t until I learned how to cook that all of these sciences came together. Cooking made me smarter. How many of you dissected a fetal pig in biology? How many of you have used that skill at any time since? I say why not cut up a chicken instead. You can learn just as much from cutting up a chicken & afterward to you cook it and eat it. Show that life shouldn’t be wasted. Thrown away.

I can’t think of any subject that can’t be demonstrated though food. Math, Physics—how heat works, Biology, Chemistry, Anthropology, Art, Economics, Ethics, everything. When I was in culinary school, I spent a few months working slaughtering lambs. And I really learned a lot there. I mean I didn’t really enjoy it. I didn’t go, oh goody today I get to go kill things. But I did learn an appreciation of where food comes from. Does this mean I don’t eat meat? No. Does this mean I don’t eat lamb? No, I love lamb. But when I do, I truly appreciate where that lamb came from. What it means to take a life for my own use. And I think if we can get that realization into the schools, they’ll start to think. Maybe if we see where food come from, we’ll think about some of the bigger issues. Slaughterhouse practices. Pesticides. Hormones. We’ll buy from local butchers because we appreciate our food that much more. Butchering is a dying art form. We’ll support the local economy. And the community will be a better place because of it.

(Much applause.)

Q. What’s your favorite food?
A. Well there’s food I like eating that I have no intention of ever making & then there’s food I like to cook. For example, you will never see me doing a show on sushi. I can prepare it. I did it in cooking school. But really, I have no intention of making sushi ever again. I love sushi but there are guys down the street who do a better job then I can. Too much work. As far as cooking. If I have one true cooking talent, I’d have to say I do meat well. Grilling. That sort of thing.

Q. What’s the difference between writing for television and writing for publication?
A. Well, I’m a visual person. We do a lot of illustrations and visual stuff on Good Eats. But I knew I didn’t want to have any pictures of food in my book. We actually turned down a lot of publishers (who offered more money) because they all wanted those food centerfolds. You know the ones I mean. Oooo, slab of meat. There wasn’t supposed to be any pictures in the book but I’d try to get a point across & I’d send in these little sketches. And someone would say, “We can use this.” In the end there are lots of illustrations which I think help some of the harder to grasp concepts. In the end though. Writing is writing. My office is in an Airstream trailer & I sit in the dark and write. Lock myself in for days at a time.

Q. What’s the oddest recipe you’ve ever come up with?
A. The oddest recipe? There have been some pretty strange ones. (Here he mentioned something involving baked Ramen noodles but I have forgotten the details.) We do something I call blackboard cooking. I figure if we understand the underlying process and the ingredients, we should be able to reason through what will happen. Which is why pretty much everything is written down before we ever go into the kitchen. Yeah, I know—geeky.

But odd, hmmm. One thing that didn’t go into the book. After learning about heat. After taking meat off the grill. You know, when it’s resting. There’s still a lot of heat left. I kinda feel guilty about wasting all that energy, right? So I make this thing I call fire and ice.

Fire & Ice
1 bunch romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 C. Balsamic vinegar
Spray bottle of oil

Freeze vinegar in a small pan. Maybe a loaf pan? You’re looking for a thin sheet of vinegar.

Cut lettuce lengthwise. Spray flat side with oil. Push the flat side of lettuce into the grated cheese. Again, flat side down, place lettuce on grill for a few minutes until cheese is toasted. Place sheets of vinegar over lettuce and serve.

So you’ve got the earthiness of the cheese and the bite from the vinegar. And there are still these crunchy ice crystals left. Simple. Quick. Sounds kinda weird but it’s really good. (We on the back row were salivating.)

At this point I had to go back to class and as I understand it missed another 30 minutes or so of talk. Before I left however, the owner of the Hand, who happened to be a very nice guy from marketing gave me my very own poster. I think he saw the naked hero worship in my eyes.

As for the official signing, I don’t have much more to add to Kristina’s account. I will say that there were probably 300-350 people crammed into the second floor. I was waiting for the floor to collapse under the combined weight of books, shelves and humanity. As AB said, I don’t think we could have all inhaled at the same time.

I was standing next to the woman who yelled, “BAM!” I would have fallen on the floor laughing but was firmly held in my one foot square spot by my fellow devotees. As I didn’t arrive until 6pm, I ended up three quarters through the VERY LONG LINE and didn’t leave until after nine. I don’t think AB could have finished until 10pm. He was probably very tired from the tour, but remained friendly throughout. He did mention that he is already working on his second book on baking, doughs and such.

Oh, the poster? It’s now signed, “Be nice to her and she’ll make you cookies.” I will go over my desk as incentive to my inventory crew.

NECI (June 25-26): By cesco

Ok, here goes.

My wife and I left Boston at 8:10am in the new 2002 Honda CRV. Great car for such a trip. Beautiful ride from Mass, through NH, and into Vermont. Made it to Montpelier at exactly 11am and found NECI. The school is up on a hill which gives you a great view of the town. Walked inside and said I was here for the Alton Brown signing. They looked at me kind of funny. Quickly, my heart sank and bad thoughts were going through my head (wrong day, he cancelled, etc.), then I saw 2 women walking in with IJHFTF books, and I asked them. "Yeah, he's downtown at the Main Street Grill". Heart back to normal rate.

It was only about a 1 minute ride to the restaurant, which is run by NECI & students. As we drove by, my wife says "There he is!" I almost crashed. I paaked the kah (remember I'm from Boston), got my bag of goodies and headed in. He was set up on the outside dining area of the restaurant. Took a deep breath and walked in. His first words were "Nice shirt", big smile from me.

I extended my hand and we shook, "Hi, I'm Alton Brown". I almost said, "No sh**", but I said "Yeah, I know" (but nicely). Told him we're from Boston, and he was very surprised we drove the 3 hours. He signed my book and said it was the first printing that contained lots of typos (FYI), it is a pre-signed one from the Food-TV site. He also signed my salt cellar, and Briner T-shirt, He asked (about the t-shirt) what are they getting for these? I gave him a cigar (a Padron Anniversario Double Corona Maduro) he was very happy with it.

Not a huge line, but there were a steady stream of people for 2 hours. I asked him why he didn't come to Boston and he said, "I go where I'm invited".

I can't stress enough what a genuinely nice (regular) guy he is, very down to earth. He asked if we've eaten lunch, and we said no. "You should eat here (the NECI grill). We put the stuff in the car, walked around town for a while and then came back for lunch. Great food!!

2 glasses of wine
2 salads (1-mixed greens, crab meat, avocados, red onions,
1-thai noodles, shrimp, thai chilies, mint,
rice wine vinegar)
1-sesame chicken with lo-mein noodles, broccoli, cashews
1-ny strip with gorgonzola, mushrooms, asparagus, potatoes
1-chocolate-peanut tort
1-vanilla-orange crème brûlée
$55.00 total (including 15% service)

They do not accept tips, but add a 15% service charge for the school (I left more for the waitress personally). This meal in Boston would run over $100.

What impressed me is that after the signing, AB sat in the restaurant (in the front, not at a secret table in the back) and had lunch with some of the NECI people. Again, a regular guy.

Walked around town some more (saw AB talking to someone in the street). Made our way back to NECI for the lecture. Again, the lecture was not at the NECI, but at Vermont College (literally 0.5 miles away) in the GYM. He spoke for 2 solid hours. I was sitting up front about 3-5 feet away.

He spoke about how people may like Big Macs, but they're not a good hamburger. But when he does eat fast food, he hits Wendys and Dairy Queen. He said that it's ok to watch Emeril and other celebrity chefs, but doesn't like the glossy cookbooks that make people feel that if they can't cook like Emeril and have they're food look exactly like his, then you're a failure. Good point.

He mentioned that before signing with Food-TV, he almost signed with Discovery and (hold on) Martha Stewart!! Everyone cringed. He said, "She now has some 'splainin to do". He went on to talk about food allergies and intolerances. He did mention that he now eats organic meat when possible. His theory is that the poultry is being treated with antibiotics and that the e-coli, salmonella, and campylobacter, are becoming resistant to these ABX. So, if we were to get e-coli, etc. from this poultry, our doctors would treat us with similar ABX, but they may be resistant. Another good point.

He spoke about how important it is to share food with family and friends. Not to worry about impressing your guests, but just eating together at a table.

He spoke of simplicity. How tomatoes have lost flavor. "When's the last time you bit into a home grown tomato. The Italians may add some good olive oil, basil, and fresh mozzarella, but they keep it simple. I would never use good saffron in a dish where it gets lost". He is right, I think.

Everyone called New England Culinary Institute, NECI. Not by the letters, but pronounced it 'NECKY'.

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    by stacy

My boyfriend and I left Boston yesterday around 9 (we planned to leave at 8, but I never manage to do anything on time). I couldn't find anyone to watch my dog for the day, so she came along for the trip too (figured that as a Boston terrier, she could "represent"). Anyway, it took us about 3 hours to get up there, and arrived at the Main Street Grill around 12. After holding my dog in my lap for 3 hours, I had little white dog hairs all over my black tee shirt, and I couldn't find a lint roller- so I brushed myself off as best I could, and we walked over to the restaurant and saw AB standing outside at his little table set up on the patio. I was actually pretty surprised that there weren't many people there- maybe about 4 people were standing around chatting with him and I believe they were all NECI faculty and students. I felt a little guilty remembering that my dad waited in line in Freehold, NJ for 3 hours to get a book signed for me.

I know everyone's already said it, but it's so amazing how genuinely nice he is! The first thing he said to me after introducing himself was, "So what do like to do aside from playing with cats, or is it dogs?" AARGH, that was embarrassing! That'll teach me to travel without a lint roller. Anyway, he said hi to my dog, who was waiting outside the balcony area with the b-friend, asked me to sign his book, etc. I asked him to sign a book for David's mom since I already had one from NJ, and he mentioned that he remembered that one well, as there were about 375 people there.

Then I said I had something for him and gave him a card that Hallie/boxergirl had sent to me for him , saying "this is from Hallie form Albuquerque", and he was totally shocked! He pulled his head back in surprise and said "Nooo.... you're kidding! That's kinda scary. How do you know Hallie?" I told him from the fan page and he told the other people at the table how she'd come all the way from NM just to see him. I think he was a little surprised at the networking abilities of people here. He held the card up to the light , opened it up and said he'd read it later. He seemed really pleased, tucked it into his shirt pocket and was smiling the whole time!

He kindly offered my dog some water and suggested I take her over to this nearby cemetery set up on a hill to run around and that she'd love it. He said that when he lived there, he used to bring one of his dogs there to play and that he loved to run around and chase the woodchucks. Sadly, he also mentioned that he had brought his ashes in his car and that he was going to bring them up there to scatter since it was his favorite place to be. We brought Lola up there to play (and it was really beautiful and hilly) and on the way out we ended up following AB's rental car back to lecture.

The "lecture" was really more of 2 hour Q&A, cesco summed it all up perfectly. I found it really interesting, and at least half the people there were from NECI. Because of that, I think they asked more complicated and food science related questions than what was probably asked at many of his signings. Very few of the inane "Is W your wife sort" of things. None of those, actually.

Afterwards we walked around the teeny, tiny town for a bit before it started to rain. It got down to about 50 degrees in about 10 minutes, so I put the dog in the car for a nap and decided to grab dinner at the Main St. Grill, which was really good! I had a crab cake with lemon aioli and tomato/avocado salsa to start and Ginger marinated grilled shrimp with a lemongrass risotto cake and red curry sauce. I agree with cesco here, a dinner like this at home would be at least twice as much money. The food was delicious, but you could really tell the service staff was made up of students. Although they were all really attentive, you could just tell that they were sort of uncomfortable with being on the other side of the kitchen. One waiter continually looked like he was on the brink of dropping things. It was kind of funny. Twice, the guy filling my water glass filled it to overflowing and had to steady his hand from shaking. Poor kid. Saw Alton again, on his way to dinner next door. Did I mention how teeny, tiny that town is???

The day was really fun and totally worth missing work over, I'm really glad we decided to go. Montpelier is a really beautiful area, I was surprised at how many young people there were. I could see why Alton would choose to spend 18 months of his life there.

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010