Food Network personality Alton Brown may be the prototype of a food nerd. For 12 seasons on his show Good Eats, he deconstructed food the way a chemist parses molecules, converting the kitchen into a lab and eating into scientific research. After years of showing fellow foodies how to make their own yogurt or grind their own sausages, Brown brought his culinary intellect to competition shows like The Next Iron Chef and Food Network Star.
Brown will now helm a new sort of gastronomic competition, FN’s Cutthroat Kitchen, premiering 10 p.m. Sunday.
As if cooking competition shows weren’t intense enough, now we have a series that rewards chefs for backstabbing their competitors?
It’s really unique. Yes, there’s people cooking and yes, there are going to be people judging, but the thrust of the game is in the auction that we have in every round and these things that we auction off that people can use to undermine other people. At the end of the day the winner only gets to keep the money that they have left over so there’s a lot of strategy. You also get to see some pretty amazing cooking.
What kind of obstacles have you guys dreamed up for the chefs to throw at their opponents?
We very often do ingredient swaps. Silly to the sublime. We haven’t done things like you have to cook in a tutu — yet.
Does it bring out the best or the worst in the competitors?
Both! Most of the competitors have been very playful about it, haven’t gotten their proverbial panties in a wad. Because most of the game doesn’t have to do with their cooking chops rather their ability to strategize, it kind of levels the playing field. It’s mischievous, but we keep it nice. We don’t want a mean show. This isn’t Hell’s Kitchen. I can’t even watch [that]. It makes me sweat.
Do you get down to Miami a lot?
I usually get down at least twice a year. The South Beach Wine & Food Festival I don’t do. It’s too big, it’s too overwhelming. I like to go when it’s quieter, for Art Basel. I am a fanatic for Cuban food. I typically find Cuban taxi drivers to take me someplace that I can’t pronounce and where I can’t read anything on the menu.
How did you feel about being suggested as the 12th Dr. Who?
It is a job I would take in a heartbeat because I’m a really big fan. I got a feeling I am not English enough. If they were going to do an American version, if I didn’t get the job I’d have to kill whoever got it. There’s no way I could allow that to happen. But I’m pretty sure I’m not on their radar.
Do you think that it’s easier for a chef to win a cooking competition than to run a successful restaurant?
Nothing’s harder than running a successful restaurant. If people knew how hard it was they wouldn’t want to do it. Winning a competition is much easier. It’s still not easy. If I had to have gotten through what people have to go thru on Food Network Star, I would never have made it. I hate cooking fast.
I’ve seen a few of your fans clamoring for you to return to cooking shows. Will you do that again?
I am launching a YouTube network that is going to be a place where people can go to see my new instructional work in the vein of “Good Eats.” That will be launching in the fall. They’re all five minutes long. I can do whatever I want to do. There are going to be a couple of them with viewer warnings on them. One of them especially is extremely bloody.
Are you going to slaughter a pig on camera?
No, not like that. I am planning on running some huge squirrels from my roof to make a squirrel stew, but no. It’s extremely bloody from a comedic standpoint. You will see things that Food Network never would allow.