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Great Big Food Show

Today, Kat and Carolyn and I spent all day at the Great Big Food Show down at the I-X Center.  This is the Food Network‘s road show, and it was held in exactly two very hip and happening cities this year: Philadelphia and Cleveland.  The show ran here for three days, and every day there were multiple appearances from Food Network stars Marc Summers, Mario Batali, Rachael Ray, and Alton Brown.  Oh, heck, who are we kidding?  The only real star in our personal cooking firmament is Alton, deeply wacky dude and hacker cook extraordinaire.  A photograph of Alton Brown with his arms around Eric and Kat.  We stood in line to get our copies of his books signed, and also to thank him for his Thanksgiving turkey recipe, which quite literally changed how we cook.  I also told him his Web site (specifically, the wonderful Rants & Raves) needs an RSS feed.  He told me he had no idea what the hell that means.  That’s all right.  Until Alton explained it on his show, I couldn’t have told you what a Maillard reaction was, let alone how it related to cooking.

So, clearly, I need a TV show, so I can return the favor.

We also saw Alton’s final stage show, where he did a sort of live-action espiode of “Good Eats” involving custards, eggnogs, ice cream, and other foam-based foods.  It was a lot of fun, with probably one or two thousand people in attendance.  I’ve heard that the other live shows were similarly popular, and with six shows a day over three days, that’s a lot of people.  Even if you figure some repeat customers, that’s still well over fifteen thousand.

What wasn’t fun was the show floor, which was far too cramped and therefore choked with crowds of attendees.  The only reason I can imagine things were so tight is that they didn’t want to pay for more floor space, because the show area was completely surrounded by empty space.  Rumor has it that next year they plan to make it even bigger, and I certainly hope that’s the case.  It was clearly a popular event, so I think they can afford to bump up the surface area.  That may mean a slight bump in ticket prices as well, but honestly, they weren’t terribly expensive so I think a small increase would be totally acceptable.  Especially if it yields more elbow room.

There were also vague promises of turning the live shows into a TV special.  I hope they make it two hours long, and call it the “Great Big ‘Great Big Food Show’ Show”.  The name actually rolls off the tongue more smoothly than you might expect.

In all, we really enjoyed ourselves.  Hopefully those of you in less-hip cities will have a chance to see the show next year.

14 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1101
    Dan Cederholm wrote in to say...

    Here’s hoping this comes to my less-hip city, and that Alton takes your advice on RSS. Oh, was Rachael Ray as corny and goofy in person? Not that I’ve… um… watched her show.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1150
    Craig Hatfield wrote in to say...

    I couldn’t make it to the IX Center last weekend and am even more disappointed now that I see that photo! What a great thing to hang in the kitchen. At least we got our fill last night with The Thanksgiving Special (Alton was appropriately given the task of cooking/bringing the turkey) followed by back to back episodes of good eats.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1312
    Dougal Campbell wrote in to say...

    [jealous]

    We live in the Atlanta area, so we keep hoping that we’ll run into Alton by chance one day. We also keep meaning to check out some of the gadget stores and food markets that he features on his show.

    And yes, his web site could definitely use the loving touch of someone whose geekery is of the computer kind.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1400
    Mark Bradbourne wrote in to say...

    Rose and I were thinking about going to that this weekend… glad it was fun, I guess we’ll have to go next year

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1449
    seth wrote in to say...

    I too, am quite jealous. Here in woefully un-hip D.C. we probably have little chance of hosting the show. Although, we do have a shiny new convention center. I’ll put a call in to Alton and see what I can do.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 1619
    Jim wrote in to say...

    My wife works for a regional food service company and every year in October they conduct a ‘food show’ where their customers can view/sample new products from suppliers. It’s a huge deal.

    Every year they have a ‘star chef’ show up to do some demos and such. Last year Iron Chef Morimoto was the guest chef and the level of enthusiasm was quite remarkable. He put on a great show indeed. He received several standing ovations.

    Fun deal all the way around.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 2018
    Will Kessel wrote in to say...

    Eric, Laura and I attended the same show you did, and we didn’t see you! We were over on seats J6 & J7. I even caught a T-shirt (Tony the Tiger). Alton was, indeed, excellent. We had a great time.

    My thoughts about the entire show are posted here.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Nov 2004
    • 2246
    Mike Pirnat wrote in to say...

    Looks like Alton was switching things up a bit–we got his home-made beef jerky lesson, which was quite entertaining, especially the bit where he commanded an attractive female volunteer (clad in a white “I Love Alton Brown” T-shirt) from the audience to “get down on all fours” on stage (to illustrate where various cuts of meat came from). She complied right away. “The fact that I have the power to do that really scares me,” Alton remarked. Hooray for public embarassment and risque double entendres! :-D

    There actually is a non-official RSS feed of Alton’s “Rants and Raves” available.

    Liz and I had vastly similar thoughts about the quality of the non-celebrity portion of the “Great Big Poorly Executed Food Show”. You should consider yourself lucky that you don’t drink–the wine tasting selection was thoroughly repulsive.

    On the plus side, there is a new series of “Iron Chef America” starting in January, with Alton reprising his previous role.

    Cheers,

    Mike

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Nov 2004
    • 0623
    Sandy Piderit wrote in to say...

    Isn’t Carolyn going to be resentful when she grows up that you didn’t include her in your picture? Or was she all comfy and napping in her stroller?

    We had wanted to go to the big Food Network event too, but then we had a last-minute rescheduling of a family event that it seemed more important to attend, since our families are always complaining that they don’t get to see Julia often enough… hopefully, the Food Network will come back again next year!

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Nov 2004
    • 0752
    Jeph Remley wrote in to say...

    Oh now this is fun! I come here for CSS stuff (we keep talking about how cool it would be to get Eric to come here to Kent State’s Library & Media Services and speak), and find other folks who also made the Great Big Food Show this weekend! And not only that, but some were in the same 1:15 Sunday Alton Brown show – neat! My friends and I were also very amused by the “Get down on all fours” stunt…heh heh!

    And when he ate the raw flank steak? (ew) Still trying to figure out how he managed to chew it enough to actually swallow it – I’m guessing it was a pretty tough, chewy strip of meat…not that I want to find out by testing it myself. I’ve had a couple friends and coworkers talk about how they were a little disappointed that Alton didn’t actually “cook”. Curing, instead of cooking, was good enough for me!

    Surprising, I didn’t mind the crowds as much as I would’ve expected (and we were there for about six hours!). Could’ve been the excitement of trying whatever dip, salsa, spread, snackie, marinara, etc was next in line… I think the worst thing was funneling all of the show attendees right smack dab into the wine tasting area. Suddenly all you could hear was “where did all of these people come from???”

    Was this the first Great Big Food Show (either here or anywhere)?

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Nov 2004
    • 1734
    Karmon wrote in to say...

    Eric with his own TV show. Yeah, I like that idea. With a side kick and special guests.

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Nov 2004
    • 1223
    Jack Brewster wrote in to say...

    Dan – you’re not alone. I have a serious crush on Rachel Ray myself and I would be absolutely crushed to find out she’s actually some cold-hearted Martha-clone. :)

    Karmon wrote – Eric with his own TV show. Yeah, I like that idea. With a side kick and special guests.

    But who would play his arch-nemsis a-la Alton’s W? (It is W, right? For some reason I’ve apparently lost the brain cell that stores the CRC for that piece of info…)

    Seems like Alton is an obvious new client for Complex Spiral.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Nov 2004
    • 2050
    Shahid wrote in to say...

    It’s funny that Alton’s blog is “Powered By Blogger,” and yet it has no feed.

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Fri 19 Nov 2004
    • 1721
    Jim Cook wrote in to say...

    Alton’s is the best show on television. Period. Any channel.

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