It’s been four years since the release of his last cookbook, but Alton Brown is back with a vengeance, thanks to his latest release, EveryDayCook. In his eighth book, the Food Network host, cookbook author and culinary personality offers a window into what he prefers to eat in his daily life (he cites the cookbook’s kale salad and chicken parmesan meatballs as some of his all-time favorite recipes).
We asked the host of Good Eats and Cutthroat Kitchen, who remains ever-curious (“every meal still holds myriad mysteries,” he told us), to tell us a bit more about the impetus behind EveryDayCook and why he approached making this book very differently.
Love collecting cookbooks and trying new recipes? Join us for our latest Cookbook Club featuring Alton Brown’s book in stores tonight, Wednesday, October 12 at 6 p.m. $75 includes a demonstration from one of our culinary specialists, your own copy of the cookbook and a generous tasting of all the recipes. On the menu: Chicken parmesan meatballs, kale salad and Cream Whipper Chocolate Mousse.
The subtitle for your new book is “This time, it’s personal.” What does that mean?
Alton Brown: Because this is my food—the stuff I eat every day. If you came to my house for a meal, odds are you’d be served something that appears in this book.
On your own podcast, you said it took such a long time for you to come out with another cookbook because you didn’t have anything to write about. Is there a definitive and singular moment when the idea finally came to you, and if so, can you tell us about it?
AB: I was actually in a museum looking at one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, and I realized that I’d never done anything that I could consider a self-portrait. I realized it was about time to make that kind of statement to say, “This is who I am right now in my life.”
Every picture in this book is shot from above with an iPhone, and was taken in your house, rather than a photo studio. We also noticed some of the props—like hubcaps and toothbrushes—were pretty unconventional. Why’d you do it this way?
AB: Straight-down shots lend themselves to very graphic compositions, because you’re essentially removing one entire dimension: depth. Everything becomes about balance, texture and light. That presents a very interesting and mixed bag of challenges, which I appreciate.
As for the plating, I do reach for some rather odd items in my food life and I think the straight overhead angles heighten our awareness of those items, whether it’s a slide carousel, a hubcap or an old army mess kit.
Complete the sentence: “It’s embarrassing how much I love __.”
What’s next for you after the #EveryDayCook book tour is over?
AB: I’m planning my book-writing retirement party.