Behind the Eats Trans

Editor's Notes:
    This show is unlike any other. Alton spends an entire hour describing how the show is created and who it is in the background that makes it happen.
  1. All "Guests" on the show are just the characters. Any dialogue from the crew is not noted as 'guests'.
  2. You can see a complete list the the crew at The Crew page. Headshots were taken not from this episode but from when I got to visit the set.
  3. You can also read about the show in the FAQ section beginning with Q120.

Good Eats Operation Central (GEOC)

GUEST: Mel, The Mailman

    Hi. Alton Brown here at Good Eats Operations Central located on the industrial fringe of a town just like yours. Now every day at about this time, our faithful mailman, Mel, pays us a little visit.

MEL: [walks in dragging three big mail sacks]
AB: Hi Mel. How are you doing today?
M: How do you think I'm doing? I'm broken down, tired, and nearly crippled by the loads of fan mail that pour into this building every day, all begging you to divulge the secrets behind this culinary circus of yours.

    As you can see, Mel is grateful to have such an important job. But lately, we've become a little worried about him.

M: Aw, look at this. It's the 6,450th letter wondering if "W" is your wife.

    So, you know, we've decided that maybe it's just time that we take half an hour and give you folks a glimpse into how those of us who make Good Eats, make Good Eats.

M: [looks at a letter, increasingly exasperated] Here's a good one, "Is that your kitchen?" Mr. Brown, can you guess how many of my vertebrae have been crushed to dust by me bearing that very same question to your door, day in and day out, for six years?
AB: Gee, I don't know, Mel.

    You can see our dilemma, can't you?

M: [holding envelopes to his forehead as if clairvoyant] "How you do get the camera in the oven?" "Is Auntie Puddin' your Mom?" "Was that meatball real?" 1

    So join us, won't you, please, as we take you on a journey, deep inside The Eats? Please watch. Not for me, but for Mel. I don't think he can take much more ...

["Good Eats" theme plays]


    Want to know what goes into a Good Eats episode? Well, I'll tell 'ya. There's a recipe, a secret recipe that I keep stashed here [in his salt container], just in case I forget the ingredients myself. It's pretty easy, though. Ahh, here we go. First thing: the three "R"s. Very important.

    First "R", of course, Research and we go through a heaping helping of that around here. Of course, it means I need research assistants to gather up all that fancy learning.



Tamie C.
Culinary Director

Carmi A.
Research Assistant

    Then, of course, we have to develop Recipes. And believe me when I say, the better the recipes taste, the better the show is going to be.



Cynthia H.
[sic, should be a W]

Culinary Assistant

Jake H.
Culinary Assistant

    Then, of course, there is the third "R", or, actually, I guess it's a "WR", Writing. By writing, of course, I mean, script writing. Everybody has a different way of handling this. I like to say that I get my ideas because two weeks before starting the writing process, I go off my medication. Yeah, that's not really a very good answer. The truth is, to get my ideas, I generally read all the research over and over and I sit in a room and go like this [stares into space] for, like, ten to twelve hours a day. And eventually, something starts to come out. Hopefully, it's good.


    Next up: location, location, location. That's right. Clever plots require locations. You want to make sure that they're multitasking locations, meaning you can shoot a lot of different things there. You want to make sure that they're close in to where you and your crew are. And above all, you want to make sure that they're really, really cheap. Here are some examples from our latest round of episodes.


[various production clips of AB shooting in different locations]

Airport: Tender is the Loin I

    [AB is sitting inside the airplane used in the show] The whole premise is that I'm flying to Paris for lunch aboard my luxury aircraft; and it's a show talking about luxury and how different things mean luxury to different people. So the cool thing that we're going to do is, we're going to execute a turn, supposedly in the aircraft, where the sun's in my eyes. So I tell the pilot, "I don't want to go to Paris. We'll go to Tangier instead, because I don't want the sun in my eyes."

Clip from Tender is the Loin I

AB: Myles, the sun's in my eyes again. Let's just dine in Tangier instead, okay?"

Airport: Tender is the Loin I

    And then the plane will bank. And of course that means that the light has to move as the sun moves. And so that's kind of complicated, because that means that we're going to have to put the main light on a dolly so that the light can move in relationship to the aircraft so that it'll give us a feel that the plane is moving. It's kind of a complicated trick, you know. Nothing we'd see on a food show very often.

MICHAEL C.: Sound is a very hard and tiresome gig. If you get into sound, make sure you have your coffeemaker standing by because you tend to get really tired. And if you don't have your coffee, especially around Mr. Brown, the sound of his voice can put you to sleep.

    [fast time lapse of the production of Tender is the Loin I in the hangar]

Boat Dealership: Tender is the Loin II

    [AB explains how the Boat was set up on the set of Tender is the Loin II] I don't want to give away is that it isn't on water, and of course that's kind of tough in this, because, you know, we're shooting 4:3 and 16:9 high-def. So I've got this super-wide frame, and I can't see off anything, and of course, there's a major highway right there, and we're under a roof. We're not exactly on the open ocean. So that's why we're putting this tracing paper on these windows, so that we can, we'll see a little bit over the dash of the boat, and it'll just be burned out, you know, like bright sunlight.


    You know, I'm not going to write this one down, but I do think that camaraderie is an important ingredient on the Good Eats set. This is especially true of location work where very often, a large number of highly-paid technicians stand around and do nothing but drink coffee while they're waiting for somebody to put up a light or move a car, something like that. But this is a key time, that you get to really use to get to know each other better.

On Location

    [on a set] Look over here. These people are obviously highly trained. And, I mean, take this man's wardrobe, for instance. Most of these people trained on commercials. And so the main thing is that, when you go to buy clothes to work on a commercial, you have to wear them and see how they feel standing very still, because that's mostly what you're going to be doing during any time that you're on the job. So most of my crew is built for comfort, you know. Short bursts of speed. Very, very short bursts of speed. This man can stand stock still for eight hours, and suddenly spring into action, like a panther. And that's important. All these guys.

Brett S.
Prod./Edit Assistant

AB: I don't even know, what's your name?
CB: No.
AB: You're not on this shoot.

    No, that's Chris. He played Satan in a recent episode.2

AB: You were a pretty good Satan.
CB: Do you see the resemblance?

Chris B.
Production Assistant

AB: [to Jim] Where's the cream and sugar?
??: I got it.
AB: Jim?
PAUL MERCHANT: Essentially, where's the love?
JIM: [walks off]
AB: You want to go back to prison?

Jim P.
Production Coordinator

    I have no ideas how to write comedy. I'm very good at watching it.

JIM: [hands AB a cup of coffee]
AB: Thank you. That's better.
JIM: Yes, Master.
AB: Yes, Master. [laughs] Thank you, Igor.

    By the way, this is the first time he's ever brought me a cup of coffee ever in my life. [takes a sip, and spits it out]

??: [off camera, not related to the show] ... 16 hour days ...
[hands the cup back to Jim] That's the worst coffee I've ever had in my life. There's too much ... What did you put in there?
JIM: Sugar.
AB: See, that was a comedy move. That spit take, I learned that in comedy camp.

AB's real home kitchen appeared in one episode.3

Asian Market: Your Pad Thai or Mine
(Hoa Binh Supermarket)

[AB goes shopping with Tamie C. and ???]

    If you've got a food show that involves locations, sooner or later one of those locations is going to be a supermarket. Of course, you have to be careful, because sometimes supermarkets can hold strange surprises.

AB: [pulls down a can]
That's like another version of Spam?
Oh, this is a Dutch version of Spam. "Fortune", as in, you're taking your fortunes into your own hands.
AB: [holding a box] Dried cortex.
AB: [holding a large bag] It's from a Conger Pike. Is it their little mouths? It's 32 dollars for a bag of this. Do you think if we buy it, Brett will eat them?

[AB is sitting in the back of a SUV with Brett]

BRETT C: You picked a winner.
AB: [takes a sample from the bag and hands it to Brett]
BC: [take a cautious bite]
AB: [reads the bag] Fried Conger Pike ball.
BRETT C: It's kind of like PVC and cardboard.
AB: So the flavor's not exactly, pronounced?
BRETT C: No. There's no flavor.
AB: There's no flavor at all.


GUESTS: Todd B., Prop Master
             Jenny A., Prop P.A.

    The true key to working with locations: adaptability.

Meeting House: Spamity Island, ME - 10:45 am
(Clips shown from production of Shell Game IV)

    Let's say, for instance that you wrote a show that was a take-off of a famous movie about a great white shark. You might need a little Town Hall. You might need a crusty fishing vessel. But if the best you can do a crusty houseboat on a local lake, no problem. Heck, that's even funnier.

(Clips shown from production of Squid Pro Quo)

    Or if you have a scene that calls for a beach at night, well, just make like Hollywood and head to your back lot. A little sand and some properly placed lights, and heck, you've got yourself a scene. Oh, and as you can see, [as AB pretends to chop, someone is tossing food up in the air] a good food tosser is a key element as well.

[TB and JA are shoveling sand]

TB: Backdrop, 350 dollars. Sand, 600 dollars
JA: Time on a cooking show, priceless.

Todd B.
Prop Master

Jenny A.
Prop P.A.

Houseboat: Shell Game IV
(Clips shown from production of Shell Game IV)

    On an average location day, you'll get up bright and early, lug a bunch of equipment, ...
... rewrite your script a few times, ...
... then do some shooting, ...
... then do some fishing.
You'll watch TV, ...
... then you'll rehearse with your actors, ...
... shoot some more, ...
... fish some more, ...
... watch some more TV, ...
... do some cooking in a place where cooking really shouldn't be done [cramped quarters of a house boat], ...
... watch some more TV, ...
... then maybe throw a party,  ...
... and go home. ...

    See, it's easy and anyone can do it.


    Wacky Sets. For instance, in a recent show we did about tenderloins, we erected an entire farm-scape complete with a breakaway cow.


(Clips shown from production of Tender is the Loin)

[in audible clips from the production]

TB: Right now, I'm sewing the inside of the cow. This is your tenderloin. And so what I'm doing is I'm going to sew both ends up, sew down the sides leaving a little space, pull it through so that way, you don't see any of the seams, like that. And then I'll hand stitch the last little bit.

[more clips]

[outtake from the Tender is the Loin I episode]
AB: Take it up, fellas. That's good, that's good, hold it right there. ... largest, and up here you'll get t-bone steaks. If you look beneath these, you'll see these kind of two meaty baseball bats. Those are the tenderloins. Now they don't really do much of anything. They just kind of hang around under there ...


    I'm proud to say that we also built ourselves a really giant grill, complete with glowing charcoal.

(Clips shown from production of Tender is the Loin II)


TB: This is going to be the barbeque set. It's going to be inside of a grill. We're going to take our grates over here, mount them into the wall, paint this. All the little lights here will go onto the ground. We'll make little charcoals, and they'll put those on Variacs, so that way, as it moves, it will light up the different patterns and make it look like the charcoal burning underneath. And Alton will stand in the center of it and pretend like he's in a giant grill with a giant steak thawing on top of him.


David T.

[outtake from "Tender is the Loin 2"]
AB: ... and through direct contact, that heat will move into the meat. And you're going to get those nice handsome grill marks from that; very effective, conduction. But there's a lot more going on here. For instance, there is radiant energy. Heat waves, literally moving straight off of the burning charcoal or the gas flames ...


    Heh heh, this is kind of funny. We were so busy doing all these big flashy sets that we all kind of forgot that we had a scene in a dentist's office.

(Clips shown from production of Olive Me)

    So we found a vacant office upstairs, and we slapped some diffusion paper on the window, got a dentist's chair, from, like, the fifth century—I swear—carefully positioned a couple of lights, stuck some X-rays on the window. But we still had one big problem: we didn't have a dentist. So we got Roman, our cameraman, to be a dentist. More on crew acting later.

Marshal M.
Key Grip

[outtake from "Olive Me"]
You should've used a pitter.
AB: [tries to speak clearly, but his mouth is numb] Ahh weehhhal. Whahts a wahunitashur.
DS: Well, that may be true. It may be a unitasker. But if you had used that unitasker, maybe I wouldn't be needing to use this unitasker [holds up extraction forceps].


    Oh, and we constructed ourselves a fully functioning bar set, complete with ejector stool.

(Clips shown from production of Raising The Bar)

    Of course, the only member of my crew who even remotely looks like James Bond from the back was my Prop Master, Todd, who's about to take a ride here.

    [excerpt from "Raising the Bar", 'James Bond' is ejected from the seat]


    Stop. Just hold it a second. Now that whole ejector thing looked easy, didn't it? Well, believe me, it wasn't.

(Clips shown from production of Raising The Bar)

    I couldn't very well fling my prop master through the ceiling. So we put his clothes on a dummy that was about his shape and size. Now, when working with dummies, it's important that you keep your cool when things start to go wrong. Not like this:

[outtakes play from "Raising the Bar"]
[the dummy is lifted several times and it hits a light]

[outtake from Raising the Bar]
I'm reminded of Frederick Henry, Hemmingway's hero of "A Farewell to Arms", who said of drinking, [forgets the next line] Man, I'm having a bad day.
??: Good hair.
AB: Yes, hair's great. Everybody's hair is wonderful. Mine feels silky and soft.
??: Here we go.

[the dummy is lifted again and it hits the light]


    Here's a little tip for you novice producers out there. When you build your wacky sets, build them as cheaply as possible. Not only will you, of course, save money, but when you're done shooting, the sets will probably just fall down by themselves and you won't have to pay anybody to take them apart.

The largest set ever built for Good Eats was the beach for Squid Pro Quo.


    Another important ingredient of any Good Eats episode is, the kitchen. You see, the Good Eats kitchen, well, it's more than a place. It's, you know, it's kind of like the car on "Night Rider". It's a character itself, and it's a character that's full of secrets.

The Kitchen

[various production clips of AB in the Kitchen]

The Kitchen

    You know, one of the burning questions that we hear from fans over and over again is, "Is that your kitchen? Is it even a kitchen at all?" Well, yes, it's my kitchen. And yes, it's a real kitchen. I mean, gosh, look around. We got real refrigerators, real ovens, real cabinets, real books, real sink, real dishwasher, a real cooktop. Everything in here is real. [The movement of the background gives away the fact that AB has been kidding with us the whole time] Um, like I said, everything in here is 100% real. This is my crib, man. This is where I ... This is where I live. [the wall with the fireplace moves to reveal it is a flat and he's inside a studio]

    Um, okay. So this, this here, actually isn't real. But I do know one that is real. Come on, let's go!

Dana P.'s and Marion L.'s  Home

GUESTS: Police Officer

[AB drives up to the house on his motorcycle,
takes off his helmet, and knocks on the door]

DP: Hey, Alton.
AB: Can I come in?
DP: [motions]
AB: Hi. Sorry, you can't get away from me at the studio, at the office, or in your very own home.
DP: Happy to have you.
AB: You guys remember Dana. Producer Dana, married to Director of Photographer, Marion. This is their house.
DP: My house.
AB: Can I have a look around the kitchen?
DP: Please, help yourself.
AB: Follow me. Yeah, I know the way. Don't worry.

Dana P.

    So, Dana and Marion built this place just a few years ago, and they designed the kitchen with a special little project in mind. Look familiar? Indeed, this is the original product. This is where we shot season five and season six of Good Eats. It's got everything you could want. They designed special joists into the floor to limit vibrations. There's argon in between the window panes to keep noise down. This is just everything that you could want as far as the location for shooting a food show. There was just one little complication. One day, there was a knock at the door. [Knocking on a door sound]. Excuse me.

POLICE OFFICER: [stands a the front door]
AB: Good afternoon, officer.
PO: [hands AB a piece of paper.]
AB: What's this? A Cease and Desist? Criminy!

    Actually, this is a dramatization. There were no papers delivered by guys in rental uniforms, but certain neighbors weren't so happy about the whole TV thing. So, in order to be good neighbors, I decided to, you know, buy a building and build a set. [sarcastically] That was fun.


    Fans always seem interested to know how we get the camera inside so many strange places, like, yeah, go ahead. Have a look. [a hand, presumably ours, reaches for the oven door, AB appears from a hole in the back of the oven] It's easy, actually. We just cut a big hole in the back of the oven. And because we're on a set, this wall wasn't really much of a problem. However, when the show first started and for years, actually, we really did shoot in real ovens that we couldn't cut holes in. And so we had this kind of elaborate mounting system that involved a huge amount of tape, actually, that went against the back wall. And I think that one day, during the first season of Good Eats, we actually kind of, sort of, melted a camera just a little bit.
    But actually, we started with the oven cam, but we've moved on to other things. Keep going, you'll see. [we move to the cabinets where AB appears again] Welcome to cabinet cam! This is where we shoot me whenever I'm getting cabinetry items like things off of the spice rack. Always handy. [pulls a canister held with Velcro off the door] One of my favorite little multitaskers. So this is cabinet cam. But there's more, there's more. Keep moving, keep moving.
    [we move to the microwave] Hi. Microwave cam. This one really confounds people, because sometimes we have the camera back here but the microwave's on, the light's on, and the carousel's moving. And that's pretty easy, because all we did was we had somebody make us a microwave without a magnetron tube in it. Cool, isn't it? Keep moving, keep moving. Keep going.
    [we move to the refrigerator] Welcome to refrigerator cam! This is the one with the most space. It's also the most challenging. Back in the old days, we'd have to, you know, try to clamp up cameras way back here and condensation would get the glue all wet and things would fall apart. So finally, about a year ago, the manufacturer of this refrigerator said that they would cut the back out for us, so we've got sweet space. We've got room down here when we need shots here. We can do shots up here, and, oh, check out the freezer.
    [we move to the freezer compartment] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Welcome to freezer cam where everything's very very cold. Oh, and look, all this stuff? That's fake. Nothing in there.

AB: [goofing off in front of the fridge] What are we going to have for dinner tonight? Well, we've got nothing left but ... HEAD CHEESE! [reveals the head of a crew worker behind the refrigerator] Marty Feldman, can you do a Marty Feldman eye thing?
RAMON: [bulges out his eyes]
AB: Yeah, there you go.

    So, there's all kind of possibilities here. We're going to do a kind of Narnia takeoff, where it's like, you journey through the back of the Good Eats refrigerator and you go to some other land.
    Dealing with the propping for refrigerator cam, always a complex issue because we don't show logos. We work very hard to do what's called "Greeking" containers. That is, it doesn't actually have to do with Greek, but it has to do with making sure that logos are not visible. And so everything that goes into the view of the refrigerator cam, of course, is very clearly in view so we do a lot of changing of labels, sometimes just by a few letters.
    And some of it is real, and some of it, like this, [bangs a piece of fake cheese on his head] is definitely not real. And inside here, it's like, this [picks up a cheesecake], oh [drops it, demonstrating that it is fake]. Oh, I'm sorry. See, that's fake. This same cheesecake has been in here for, I don't know, three seasons, I think.

The food in the fridge may be fake but the food
cooked on Good Eats is always real.


    If you, in any way, doubt the talent or the story-telling abilities of your host, sweet camera gear can make up for it.


Behind The Kitchen

    Come on out and meet some of the illustrious crew. Here is kind of our technical corridor here. This is Marion. Marion is the Director of Photography and the Technical Director of Good Eats. If it has to do with how this show looks, it went through him.

Marion L.
Directory of Photography

    He's got all kinds of things to look at here. This is kind of "the" monitor that the show is [waves his hands, as he watches] ... I love how that works. Here's the real hand, and then they go on and on forever. It's like, I don't know. Anyway, it's fun. High def and all that kind of stuff in here. He can look at things like my vital signs, and all kinds of stuff, and time code and stuff. And over here, I think that he can actually run several comsats. There you go. Yep, that's us right there.

    And he does all this with this little gizmo that he carries around, and he also controls the camera with that. He turns the camera on and off. He can zoom in very tight [demonstrates], he can make me very fuzzy, or he can make me very sharp. He can make me very dark. He can make me very light. He has all kinds of power with this thing. It's a great deal of fun. Can I play with this for a sec? Just for a second.

MARION: NO! My precious!
AB: Doooon't touch the precious.

    Okay. Well, we'll come over and meet some people that might be a little less testy. Actually, if we had pandas on Good Eats, this would probably be the panda department, because they're very, very easy-going. This is Katherine. Katherine is a Script Supervisor. And this is the script book that she supervises. Every word, of course, an absolute jewel of literature. And she uses this watch, this special stopwatch, to keep records of everything on the ...[taps the watch, which doesn't appear to be working] I think you need a new battery.

Katherine S.
Script Supervisor

    This is Mike.

AB: Hey Mike.
MIKE: [Mike is wearing headphones] WHAT!!
AB: It's okay. Go back to sleep.

He controls the  ...

AB: [speaks directly and loudly into the microphone] HEY MIKE!!
MIKE: [no response]

Oh well. He put this [microphone] on me. I keep it there all the time, and I have to  ... he puts this on me every day too. See, I have this thing. [AB pulls his pats leg up to reveal the mic's transmitter] It's like a lo-jack on my leg. And every now and then, we have to change the battery, and it's just kind of frustrating. It's a lot like the one that Martha Stewart has, just smaller.
    Now you might not be able to tell by looking at all the tapes and wires hanging off this thing, but this contraption is a highly sophisticated, high-definition television camera. And it's connected to an even more sophisticated system, a stabilization system, called a Steadicam. And this whole contraption floats on the end of this gimbal, onto this arm, which is full of titanium springs. Very expensive. Very, you know, difficult to maintain.

    Which connects, via harness, to this man, known as a Steadicam Operator.

Ramon E.
Steadicam Operator

    And when the two of them get together, they can do things like this. [Various shots of Stedicam operation are shown]
    And this.
    And this.
    And sometimes this. This is especially difficult.


GUEST: Thing

    If one room is pivotal to the existence of Good Eats, it's this room. It's this room. Behind this door, is the Props Department. Let's go in.


AB: Props Department, how are you?
PAUL: [throwing darts] Doing good, doing fine.
AB: What are you doing there, Paul?
PAUL: Nothing. [camera pans to show a dartboard with AB's face on it]
AB: So this is how you spend your time. Well, I never liked that picture much anyway.

    Anyway, here lies the entire material records of seven years of Good Eats. Everything's here in bins marked ... [finds an example] "Bubbles". This is how specific my prop crew is. Look at this: "Metal Stuff". One of my favorite creatures from the show. Watch his head [squeezes the toy, and a red bubble emerges from the head] Hah hah, how do you not love that? Of course, we didn't actually make that. But we did make a bunch of this stuff. Like, for instance, this giant onion head here. [puts it on, imitates Darth Vader]. Luke, I'm your father. Technically, this is a piece of wardrobe, but we keep it in the prop room, because there's more room in here.

AB: Jenny, wake up, wake up. Back to work, we're still making the show.

    Todd here, this is our ... he's been the lead props man now ...

AB: ... for how many years?
TODD: Since the pilot.
AB: Since the pilot. So it's, for seven years.
TODD: For seven years.

    But they're Alton years, which is like dog years, and working with me has ... he looks young, but he's a broken old man, which is why we got him this rocking chair.

    Paul has been the second propsman, ever since, well, when did he come on? Season two. We got him as part of a work release program from a correctional facility.

Paul M.
Props Assistant

    Puppets. Todd and Paul build all the puppets. Puppets are a big deal on Good Eats and this is just built on an articulated ... one of those things old people reach for stuff with. I'm sorry, I shouldn't say that.

AB: [to someone off camera] You made the king crab up there, didn't you? You made the king crab.

    There's the giant eyeball from the grill lid.

[clip from "A Taproot Orange" featuring the eyeball grill lid]
AB: Behold, the human eyeball.

    Here's the fantastic pie ...

[clip from "A Pie in Every Pocket"]
AB: This is exactly, precisely the kind of thing that we want to see in our dough. But there's something else.

    Real Good Eats fans will of course remember "Mystery Food Science Theater." We haven't used this in a while. We had a bad accident. An actor came in too far. They closed. We've cleaned most of the blood off, though.

    One of the most important cast members on Good Eats kind of serves as my, well, my assistant, really. Whenever you see a hand bringing me things and what not, you might be reminded of "Thing" on "The Addams Family" for those of you, like me, that are old enough to remember that. Unfortunately, "Thing" passed away not long after "The Addams Family" completed production. He wasn't able to get work, became addicted to finger food, eventually died. But he had a son, before then, Thing, Jr., and we've been lucky enough to secure Thing, Jr. now for several seasons. And we've built him a really nice little pad that he's got down here. [opens a box to reveal Thing, it's a swanky party box complete with mirror balls]

AB: Hey Thing, how are 'ya? Hey, you did some really really great work back on Wednesday. It was some of the best hand work I've seen. I see you've got some friends visiting, so we won't keep you for long. Enjoy the sushi. Hey, you've got your mirror balls up. But you've had a little problem with your mirrors on your ceiling. Very very nice. Well, hey, party on. I don't want to get in the way. Bye.


    Next ingredient: skilled thespians. That means "actor", by the way. Actors are cheaper if you hire them and get their work in bulk. So what we do is we'll hire one actor or actress and make them play dozens of roles before letting them go at the end of the day. More economic. However, be very wary of comedic actors. They can force you into having to do multiple takes, which are costly, and expensive.


[outtake from "Shell Game IV"]
CAPTAIN SQUINT: Looks like you've been playing with test tubes all your life.
AB: [loses it and laughs] I'm sorry.

[outtake from "Shell Game IV"]
Oh bother [cracks up because Daniel P. continues to massage AB's hand waiting]

(Yes, this is AB attempting to kiss Daniel P. in an outtake.)

[more outtakes and clips continue to play]
    The Captain Quint knockoff there is being played by Daniel Pettrow, one of our acting troop. He has played, among other things, "The Muffin Man"4, "Rusty" on the chili show5, and my neighbor, Chuck6.

    He introduced us to Bart Hansard, who came on board originally to play Koko Karl7, a corrupt food processor. But he went on to play a transvestite8 and a lunatic9.

    Speaking of lunatics, there's WiddI Turner13, playing Frances Anderson, the super fan, gone berserk from This Spud's For You Too. She went on to play a disaffected French shop girl10, a scary church lady11, and a kind of scary diner waitress.12

Okay, half an hour is not going to cut it. So stay tuned.


    Of course, I'll admit sometimes skilled thespians are hard to come by, and that's why we have a rule around here: He who works on Good Eats, must appear on Good Eats.

(various clips)

[clip of Paul M. as Lever Man Shell Game]
LM: I'm Lever Man
[clip of Paul M. as Lactose Man on Good Milk Gone Bad]
I'm Lactose Man!
AB: Hi, Lactose Man.
LM: Hi.

[clip of Brett and another Crewman on A Pie in Every Pocket]
AB: ...
and they'd stash them in lunchboxes or even right in the pockets of their mates, who then went off to the coal mines.


[clip of 3 Crewmen as aviators on A Taproot Orange]
AB: ...
pick the poor blokes out of a crowd simply by their orange skin.

RAFPs: [all have very orange skin, they salute]
AB: [returns the salute] Brilliant!

[clip of David T. as a policeman in The Muffin Method Man]
[throwing a muffin for the cop to fetch] Go get it boy!
[clip of what appears to be Todd B. in Power Trip]
... called pan forte packed with honey, grains, nuts, and dried fruit. Pan forte was the ...
[clip of Tamie C. and Vanessa as termites in Sometimes You Feel Like A ...]
Gross! This wood tastes nasty!
TERMITE #2: Like ...
T1 & T2: Cashews! Yuck! [throw down wood chunks]
[clip of Ramon as Ronco in Squid Pro Quo]
I have a case of crabs to deliver.
[clip of Vanessa P. and ?? in a 10 Culinary Clips short entitled, Knoweth Thy Nog]

Mr. Darcy: [summoning his strength to tell her he loves her, he drinks some sack posset which makes him unintelligable] IjustwannasayIloveyou.
Miss Bennett: [misunderstanding, she slaps him]

[behind the scenes clip of Brett and Jim tackling AB as lawyers in Tender is the Loin II]
Look, guys, just buy your beef from reliable sources, and...
L: [wrestle AB to the ground]
[clip of AB and ??? as AB's parents in Dis-Kabob-Ulated]
... my parents would occasionally run away for long, romantic weekends, just the ...


[clip of Marshal M. as Fed #3 in Churn Baby Churn II]
FED #3:
[pointing to AB off camera] We're watching you, little man.


    Another critical element of the Good Eats recipe: top notch experts. Experts lend an air of authority to any TV project, and so we put a lot of effort into building us, kind of a posse, so to speak, of experts who can speak on a wide range of subjects. Of course, sometimes, you find a subject that you can't find an expert for. So you just make one up. Let's take a little quiz, shall we? Expert or imitator? You be the judge.


(various clips)

[clip from CrÍpe Expectations]
You need time for the bubbles to escape, and you need to hydrate your starch.

    Expert or imitator? Ding ding ding ding ding ding. That's right, Shirley Corriher is one of world's best cooking teachers.

Expert or Imitator

Shirley O. Corriher
Food Science Guru

[clip from Raising the Bar]
DEB D.: And don't bring me one of those neon sissy-fied slushies, either.

    Expert or imitator? Ding ding ding ding ding. That's right, Deb Duchon14 is an actual nutritional anthropologist.

Expert or Imitator

Deb Duchon
Nutritional Anthropologist

[clip from Olive Me]
CAROLYN O.: [as the Lady of the Refrigerator] That's true, I do. But olives are also mentioned many times in myths, legends, fables, stories, and song, not to mention the Bible.

    So, expert or imitator? Ding ding ding ding. While the Lady of the Refrigerator is a myth, the lady playing her is an actual dietitian.

Expert or Imitator

Carolyn O'Neil15

[clip from Olive Me]
... to put the stem through.
AB: Alwhy. Cwevah. Heh heh heh heh.

    Expert or imitator?

Expert or Imitator

Vickie Eng's Office

    So here's the big news. W's real name is Vickie Eng, and she is NOT a kitchen wares expert. In fact, I'm not even sure if she would know the difference between a spoon and a spatula if we weren't there to tell her. But she is an expert in something besides being an actress which she's pretty good at. But her real passion, I think, is just inside this door. [walks into the house]

AB: Hi Vickie.
VE: Hey Alton. How are you doing?
AB: Good.

Vickie E.

    Here's Vickie, and Vickie is my chiropractor. That's right, she's a chiropractor. She's a practitioner of the ancient arts. Occasionally cruel. I'm always sore when I leave here.

[clips of Vickie demonstrating her practice on AB,
lots of bone cracking is heard]


    If you ask me, a great majority of the food and cooking programs on today could be improved with the cunning use of costumery.

Cool Costumes

GEOC: Wardrobe Department

    Our next step is the wardrobe department, where things like, you know, the cowboy outfits.

[clip from The Big Chili]
GRUMPY GUS: Do you know, Rusty, there's folks actually compete with chili, like in a culinary rodeo?

    Oh, the famous foil suit ...

[clip from A Cake on Every Plate]

... which I think is being packed up to go to the Television Hall of Fame.

    All created by my wardrobe mistress, Amanda Kibbler. Some people call her "Mandy", but that reminds me too much of that song. So I like Amanda better.

Amanda K.
Wardrobe Stylist

    Jim's being fitted for his, a big musical number that we're going to be doing. He can still tap in that, can't he?

[cut to AB wearing a mummy mask] I had a terrible deep-fryer accident.

    Facial hair also applied here. A very important aspect of Good Eats is ...

AB: Aww, Brett.
BRETT: [walks in his Dutch girl outfit]
AB: Brett ... Speaking of facial hair.

[excerpt from Circle of Life plays with Brett the Dutch Girl in the background]
AB: ... fried in hog fat and very, very popular with the Dutch.

AB: Brett ... You're dressed up for another Dutch scene. Actually, we don't have any Dutch girl scenes today.
BRETT: [looks sad]
AB: Oh, you're just going out. He's going clubbing.

    So I have my pharmacist's moustache.

[shot of AB being made up as Colonel Bob Boatwright plays]
AB: That's a little crooked.
??: It is.


Beard, Johnny Depp, pirate.

[clip from Myth Smashers]
AB: [as Captain Jefferson Quint] The old sailor rushed his bird to the vet, but it was too late.

    Now that doesn't mean that Johnny Depp and I used this same batch of facial hair. He has his own.

    This is when I was the kamikaze flower [excerpt from Hittin' The Sauce], and this is the grain of rice you made.

[clips plays from Do The Rice Thing]
AB: ... the rice kernels would never make contact.

    Oh, The Waffler.

[clip from The Waffle Truth]
AB: I'm The Waffler.

    This is all that remains of The Waffler? You know, here's the thing about budget wardrobe. It only stays together for, like, six seconds longer than you wear it, and then it just explodes off of your body.

    This was "Mean Green", right?

[clip from Field of Greens]
AB: And I'm pleased to say that the creature formerly known as Mean Green, is in—my house at least—referred to now as Deep Green.

JIM: [in his Lobster suit is flat on the floor]

    Jim's fallen, and he can't get up.

AB: Quick, Mandy, come help. You're going to be okay, man. We'll turn you over. You alright there buddy? Maybe we need to work on balance on that head piece.


    Ever notice that the cooking on Good Eats seems care-free and easy? Well, that's got nothing to do with my skills as a chef. What it has to do with is my staff of crafty culinarians. What do crafty culinarians do? Just about everything that doesn't happen to the food on camera.


GEOC: Walk-in Fridge

VANESSA P.: How many times do I have to tell you to stop eating the food? It's for the show.
AB: [eating the olive out of a can] But these olives are really good.
VP: I don't care.
AB: Just one more. [spits out the pit]
VP: Stop spitting the pits in the corner. Somebody has to clean that up.
AB: Yeah, but not me, it's okay. [notices the camera watching them through the glass] Um, come over here. Be nice.

    So, this is Vanessa Parker. Vanessa is the chef in charge of all of the food that goes onto the Good Eats set during production.

Vanessa P.
Prod. Kitchen Supervisor

    [clips of Vanessa and Vanessa's work] Tammy and I may develop the recipes, but Vanessa's got to make it actually show up on the plate, or my face. In essence, she handles the food, so that I can just walk up and make it look easy. And believe me, her job is not easy.

GEOC: Behind the Kitchen

TAMIE C.: [cooking in the background]

    So we're going to be cooking these steaks for four minutes on one side. We want to go ahead and have some that already been cooked for four minutes, because out there [the set], four minutes is really expensive. So our general rule is, if any step in a cooking procedure takes more than two minutes, we do it ahead, so we can switch it out.
    So here's what will happen is, we'll get the food down, we'll start to cook it, and I'll have to do a flip shot. And then, when we do another flip shot, but we'll be out of steaks to flip, so she'll have that next step standing by so that we don't have to cook, you know, four minutes on one side again. So she's going to make one side nice and pretty, and then she's going to pull them, so we can move them right into the pan. And basically, every step along the way of the procedure has to be thought through like that.

It takes an average of three days to shoot a Good Eats episode.

The Kitchen

    So lo and behold, we're shooting this "behind the scenes" episode and look who shows up, but my Mom, all, like, dressed with fancy makeup and jewels. I don't know who, like, emailed her about this that she would just happen to drop by in the middle of shooting a "behind the scenes" episode.

Alton's Mom

AB: [to other crew members] You guys keep working. Don't look at her. We're just filling time here.

    My Mom was the ONLY kitchen staff that I had on the pilot episodes of Good Eats. And not only did she do it all by herself, she just had surgery, which we won't get into. So she was actually, like, you know, stitches and things, and doing the kitchen. And now there's, like, six people in the kitchen.

MRS. BROWN: I know. As soon as he had money to pay people, he fired me ...
AB: [laughs]
MRS. BROWN: ... and hired six people
AB: Well, I didn't actually fire her. I didn't fire you to hire six people. I fired you to hire two people.
MRS. BROWN: It was fun. I enjoyed it.
AB: No, it wasn't fun. It was NOT fun.
MRS. BROWN: I enjoyed it.
AB: It was, well, you might have enjoyed it, but it wasn't ...
MRS. BROWN: It was work, but I still enjoyed it.

   Anyway, so she's still watching the show, and she's still on it. She's been in a few episodes, although she'll be happy to remind you that she hasn't been in one lately.

MRS. BROWN: No, he's forgotten me.
AB: Ohhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhh.
MRS. BROWN: He hires this ugly old woman ...
AB: Please, please folks, call ...
MRS. BROWN: ... to play his grandmother ...
AB: Ugly old woman? That was my real grandmother. That was your mother!

[clip from The Dough Also Rises featuring Ma Mae, AB's grandmother]
AB: The battle line has been drawn. We are at battleground biscuit. Now, although Ma Mae taught me how to make biscuits and every biscuit that I've ever had has basically tried to live up to hers ...


    As you can see, family is pretty gosh darn important to me. The problem is, is that I don't have that many family members that'll actually take my calls. So when I need extra family, sometimes I just invent them, using, that's right, skilled thespians. So, let's see if you can guess, who's family, and who's fraud.


(Clips of Various Episodes)

[excerpt from Circle of Life plays featuring Merrilyn Crouch]
MARSHA BROWN: [talking on the phone] Alton? Alton? Why you little freak!

[mimicking a buzzer sound] Errrrrrrrggghhh.16

Alton's Sister


[excerpt from Romancing the Bird plays featuring Mrs. Brown]
MRS. BROWN: [enters front door]  Hello?
AB: Mom?
CREW: Hi, Mrs. Brown.
MRS. BROWN: Who can tell me why my new wreath was in the bushes?

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Guess we kind of gave that one away, huh?

Mrs. Brown
Home Owner


[excerpt from The Trick to Treats plays featuring John Herina]
ELTON: If I put one foot into that costume party dressed like this, they'll tear me apart!

    Errrrrrrrggghhh. Just an actor.17

Alton's Nephew


[excerpt from Pantry Raid IV: Comb Alone plays, featuring Zoey Brown]
AB: So the next time your toddler takes a header, maybe you should slather on a little honey instead of that expensive cream.

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Though she's not as cute now.18

Alton's Spawn


[excerpt from Casserole Over plays featuring Matilda]

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

The Hound Dog


    My brother, B.A.

[excerpt from The Muffin Method Man plays featuring B.A.]
AB: At least it's roomy.

    Some things must remain a mystery.

Alton's Brother



    They say that geeks shall inherit the earth. Well, I don't know about the whole planet, but I do know that on Good Eats, we would be lost were it not for a strong gaggle of geeks. What do geeks do? Well, around here, most of the post-production.


(Clips of Various Episodes featuring editing techniques)

    That includes things like editing where we actually cut together all the scenes so that they make sense. We can do groovy things like compositing so that you can take a person and a background or a location, and paste them together. It can be Paris, or The Golden Gate Bridge, whatever you want. We can also do split screens, so that I can just multiply across the screen, kind of like a virus.

Ginger C.



    Of course, if you've got a super-geek, you can actually do animations. And boy, do I have a super-geek.

Biscardi Creative Media

WB: Basically, what we do is a whole combination of, like, Photoshop, old clip-arty type things, plus a lot of photographs. I probably have about 500 photographs now, of the crew, with their heads, and what-not. [various clips play] So what I'll do is I'll take their heads, put them onto the characters, and basically, you know, we're going for old Victorian kind of art, fast stop-action, kind of Terry Gilliam, Monty Python-esque.

Walter B.

Belden Music

    Of course, all the fancy shmantzy video in the world doesn't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. And our swing comes from Patrick Belden, who's been doing original music and sound effects for Good Eats since day one. There, you'll notice that my guitar is not actually plugged in. He can play all kinds of instruments and generate all kinds of sounds, which is exactly what our show needs.

Patrick B.
Original Music &
Sound Design


AB PUPPET: The final, and perhaps most powerful element of any Good Eats episode: puppets. That's right, puppets! There's nothing they can't do. There's no idea that they cannot communicate. Imagine, if you will, the following scenes, without puppets.


(Clips of Various Episodes featuring puppets)

[excerpt from Dr. Strangeloaf plays]
AB: Here comes some wild yeast now.
YEAST PUPPETS: [sniffing water and flour mixture] Mmmm. That's good.
AB: Hey guys, jump in! The slurry's warm.
YEAST PUPPETS: Okay! [they jump in splashing AB]

[excerpt from The Egg-Files V: Quantum Foam plays]
AB: You know, it's been a long time since we encountered such conflicting characteristics.
FLAKY & TENDER PUPPETS: [appear over AB's shoulders]
AB: Well, it's our old pie crust cronies, Flaky and Tender. [knocks them out]

[excerpt from Oat Cuisine plays]
AB: And what salt wants, salt gets.
SALT KEN DOLL: [goes over and hits Pentosans Ken doll who was kissing Water Barbie]

[excerpt from Eat This Rock plays]
KP: What's wrong with my food?
CP: Well Sire, since you placed so little value on salt, I decided to leave it out of your food.

[excerpt from Three Chips For Sister Marsha plays]
MAJ. WILFRED D. COOKIE PUPPET: ... also creates a more tender cookie. Now leave me alone.


AB: [picking up letters from the floor, to an office assistant] Here you go, just file those with the others.

    Well, I hope that we have answered any burning questions that you folks have about Good Eats. As you can see, we're just a happy little band of Americans making a straightforward, humble cooking show. Sure, we joke around a little, but in the end, it's all about the food.

AB: Mel, how are you feeling?
MEL19: A lot better. Thanks, Mr. Brown. I'm looking forward to getting some rest. Listen, [handing AB a letter] there's one question you didn't answer.
AB: [reads the letter, and laughs] Did you see this episode?
MEL: No.
AB: Well, trust me, this was 100% fake, and it wasn't a very convincing fake either [they both chuckle].

    So now that we've given up all of our secrets, I think that maybe we'll just get back to the business of making some really Goo ... [Squid Man's tentacle (from Squid Pro Quo) grabs Mel and lifts him into the air out of the camera shot]

MEL: [screams]
AB: Fluffy, you put him down. He's government property, you ... [Mel's hat falls, he tosses it to the receptionist] Oh bother. [exits]


[another take of the last scene, this time from above and behind the camera, showing that Mel was hoisted into the air on a boom arm]

Although not mentioned on the show (I guess you can't remember everyone),
these people are part of the invaluable crew of Good Eats:

Mike Coskey
Standby Key Grip

Rob DeBorde

    Co-Author of many of the episodes beginning in season 7. I try to note these in the show notes. The sketch to the right is one Rob made. Rob also created the animated cooking host, Tako the Octopuss. You can learn cooking from Tako at Rob has also written a book, Fish on a First-Name Basis: How Fish Is Caught, Bought, Cleaned, Cooked, and Eaten.

Lucky Yates

    Mailman Mel is played by Lucky Yates who has also played other such memorable characters as Dungeon Master, The Grim Reaper, a butcher, a fish monger, an infomercial host, a popcorn vendor, and has worked with the crew as a a puppet maker and puppeteer.


Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010