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    Friday, August 12, 2022

    Alton Brown discusses return to 'Iron Chef' stage, now on Netflix

    Atlanta's ever quirky culinary maestro Alton Brown has been a Food Network fixture for more than two decades going back to his one-of-a-kind "Good Eats" program through shows like "Food Network Star," "Iron Chef America" and "Cutthroat Kitchen." 

    But all good eats must come to an end, and with "Iron Chef" jumping to streaming service Netflix, Brown has come along for the ride.

    Brown maintains a busy calendar, juggling a live touring show and a new cookbook with this new TV gig. He is co-hosting "Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend" with "Top Chef" winner Kristen Kish.

    The new season features longer episodes and big-name iron chefs Marcus Samuelsson, Gabriela Cámara, Curtis Stone, Dominique Crenn and Ming Tsai facing off against other chefs trying to knock them off their thrones.

    The durable franchise, which began in Japan, has been around in different incarnations for nearly 30 years. "Good ones tend to lend themselves to evolution, which is certainly the case with 'Iron Chef,'" Brown said. "The new one is another leap forward."

    Here are highlights from a recent interview with Brown with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    — On joining the Netflix version of "Iron Chef": "When I heard the show was moving to Netflix, I expected them to retool from ground zero. They did that with 'Queer Eye.' They cleared the deck. So I was honored when they asked me. I was a little surprised they wanted that continuity."

    — Adding a co-host: "We've had a floor reporter to feed me information. Here's the big difference. We're not having to spend time wrapping up before commercials and bringing people back and recapping after commercials. Plus, we have a full hour, not 41 or 42 minutes. The wonderful Kristen is the real thing. She competed and won 'Top Chef.' She knows exactly what goes out on the floor. I've always focused on the food and the technique. She gets down and talks to the chefs and have conversations. We didn't have time for that before."

    — How do they get along? "We hit it off immediately. It could have gone so many ways. Fortunately, when we showed up on the first day for rehearsals, we realized we were the team we needed."

    — Storytelling is now key: "Netflix made it very clear early on that this is about the cooks and their stories and culture and people. That to me is a very refreshing new take on the format."

    — Bringing back the Chairman Mark Dacascos: "He brings so much to the party. He had the audacity to play the comedy in the role right to the edge of believability. He has such a physical presence. Have you seen 'John Wick 3′? He's basically an assassin. To be able to make fun of that is what makes him a great actor."

    — The massive new set: "Oh my gosh! It's huge! It's the reality of shooting in Los Angeles instead of New York. In New York, every studio is tiny. We were always hemmed in by Studio One at Chelsea Market for Food Network. Now we are using a real soundstage. The kitchen is immense. It fits everything a chef could want."

    — Joining the judges' table: "That was an interesting decision. We aren't there to judge but we get to sample the food. Kristen and I can also steer the conversation and refocus if need be (with the three actual judges). The way it's edited, it works. But it's tough. Even if you only eat a little of everything, it isn't easy on my body. I'm not getting any younger. There wasn't a night I didn't go home feeling a little uncomfortable."

    — His diet at age 59: "I try to eat as little as possible but I eat whatever I want. It's quality over quantity. As I get older, calories are not my friend. Plus, I still haven't turned myself into an elite athlete."

    — The future of "Good Eats," a name owned by Food Network: "I'm trying to decide if there is a new iteration in me, an evolution of 'Good Eats.' I can use 'good' and I can use 'eats.' Now I can't use them together. Frankly, I'm fine with that. 'Good Eats' is me. And I still have the rights to my name!"

    — Possible travel show: "To me, a travel show would be a very attractive thing to look at a post-COVID planet or at least what an endemic planet looks like. I had a program in the planning stages that was travel related when it was shelved by COVID. As we come out of this, we'll reexamine that. I still want to do it."

    — His most recent cookbook, "Good Eats: The Final Years": "It encompasses both of the seasons of 'Good Eats: The Return' and both seasons of 'Good Eats: Reloaded.' The third season of 'Reloaded' didn't get made because it ran afoul of budgets, but I have all the recipes from that season in there. I'm really proud of those recipes ... The book does literally close the book on 'Good Eats.'"

    — His love for doing the live shows: "I adore them. It's not the most profitable thing I do, but it works for me. We are on our third tour. I am proud of being able to pull off a culinary variety show. The audiences do crave being together in a big room. I've enjoyed the format as much as television. Being in front of a live audience is so wonderful. They take and they give. Cameras only take."

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