Alton Brown is today a household name among those who have even a passing interest in cooking (or watching cooking shows), but when his cooking show Good Eats first hit the airwaves in 1999 it was anything but a sure bet. Who was this wacky guy, diving deep into the intricacies of onion soup and rice pilaf with the help of a cast of zany characters? But it staked its claim on the Food Network and its influence continued to grow over the years, finally calling it a day after 14 seasons in 2011. Today, Brown’s time is spent hosting Cutthroat Kitchen, writing cookbooks, and hosting his one-man traveling show, Eat Your Science (which launches in Charleston in April), but Good Eats will always be the show that put him on the map. Here are five ways that the show revolutionized cooking shows forever.
He Got the Camera Into the Kitchen
All familiar tropes went out the window on Good Eats. There’s no way that Good Eats could have been produced with a stationary camera, just no way. We follow Brown through his kitchen, see him from the back of the oven or the inside of his pantry, even take trips to the hardware store with him. Brown has a background in cinematography, and it definitely came in handy here.
He Turned the Stand-and-Stir Format on Its Head
Sure, Brown could have just stood in one place and talked to a camera in front of him in a traditional cooking show configuration, but that wouldn’t be very much fun, would it? It wasn’t until watching Good Eats that we realized that the traditional format isn’t very much fun at all.
He Made the Science of Cooking Cool
Each episode focuses on one individual dish or ingredient, and doesn’t shy away from getting technical. Little did we know that the science behind browning meat or popping corn is fascinating!
He Made It Okay to Be a Nerd
Yes, Alton Brown is a bit of a nerd. Nowadays, with insanely popular podcasts like The Nerdist and insanely popular (for some reason) TV shows like Big Bang Theory, being a little nerdy is perfectly okay, and actually respected. Brown showed us that nerds don’t all wear pocket protectors and look like Professor Frink on The Simpsons. They’re just smart, and smart is good.
He Killed the Unitasker
Brown despises unitaskers, kitchen tools that only serve one slightly obtuse purpose, like coring a pineapple or turning vegetables into noodles. And he’s right: They just pile up and are completely forgotten about after one use. You know what’s a good multitasker? A knife! Before Brown came around, novelty unitaskers were regarded as pretty cool inventions, one that makes our lives a little easier. Now, they’re laughable.