Even in a city where food is serious business—where we like our booze craft-honed, our chickens creatively named, and our meats home-butchered—the science of food isn’t necessarily top of mind. Award-winning author, chef, and television personality Alton Brown aims to change that as he swings through town with his latest variety show designed to turn nerdy culinary arcana into live entertainment. He'll be at the Schnitz for two shows on Sunday, March 26.
Brown—host of shows like Good Eats, Iron Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen—follows up his wildly popular Inevitable Edible with Eat Your Science, a night incorporating musical acts, a game show, big demonstrations, and a dance routine, all centered on the science of food. He says his goals are explanatory, but also social. “There was a time when I would have told you that if you’re going to be a better cook you need to understand what is going on with your food,” he says. “Now food has taken on a more significant role—I think it’s cultural glue. We now live in a time where there is very little that we hold in common interest with each other. We all have to eat. We all like to eat. So it’s the connective tissue, if you will, between us.”
Much like in Brown’s Peabody award winning show Good Eats, all the zany antics and wild demonstrations are designed to help the audience pick up complicated ideas. “We used to have a sign over the studio door that said ‘laughing brains are more absorbent,’” says Brown. “And I truly believe that you can teach people without them even knowing it, or more importantly plant seeds of curiosity in them so they seek out answers for themselves.” Brown hopes audience members will continue to experiment in the kitchen and the grocery store.
A longtime staple of a half-dozen Food Network shows, Brown transitioned easily between the small screen and the stage. “I enjoy television work, I’m good at television work, I’m comfortable with television work, but it is a unilateral relationship,” he says. “The camera doesn’t talk back to you. It doesn’t respond to you. Audiences do, and there are some people who are terrified of that. Me, I’m the opposite. I crave it.” That craving was the catalyst for this tour, which kicked off earlier this year.
As on his last tour, Brown encourages fans to tweet him local dining recommendations. Among the many that Brown featured last year (some of which he says he would gladly revisit): Coava Coffee Roasters, Tasty N Sons, and Pip's Original Doughnuts. “Theaters are big rooms with lots of seats and sometimes they are especially splendid or especially a pain in the butt. But for me, what I remember when a tour is over are the places people send me to eat or drink.”
3 and 8 p.m. Sun, Mar 26, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $29.50–125