Chatting with Alton Brown

The Food Network star visits Bellevue

Culinary genius, Food Network star and author Alton Brown will be in Bellevue to raise money for Hopelink as the speaker during the annual Reaching Out Luncheon Oct. 19 at Meydenbauer Center.

Brown supports charities with a mission to end hunger, poverty and homelessness, including Heifer International. He paired with Heifer International to provide livestock to people in need all over the world in hopes of ending world hunger, and also donated his portion of the proceeds from the Food Network’s 2005 cookbook “Food Network Favorites: Recipes From Our All Star Chefs” to the charity.

In addition, Brown is a staunch supporter of the organization Feeding America, and has launched a virtual food drive aimed at raising $100,000 to provide one million meals for families and individuals served by the nationwide Feeding America network.

The annual luncheon is one of Hopelink’s largest fundraisers. Hopelink provides transportation, housing, food, and more to people in need in throughout the Eastside, Shoreline, and Sno-Valley areas.

We had the opportunity to connect with Brown prior to the event. Here is what he had to say about his career, how to be a responsible eater, and how he lost 50 pounds even though his career centers on delicious food.

Given your interest in animal welfare, how do you balance having meat in your diet?
I don’t eat nearly as much meat as I used to but I do believe that eating animals fits into the equation of responsible stewardship of this planet, and its resources. The issue is more about balance. Animals have to be raised safely and humanely and harvested compassionately, and with skill and respect.

Can developing food technologies — like using vegetable proteins to mimic animal protein — help create food security?
Yep … I don’t really see any other way.

Food security is a big and complex problem. Are there things we as can do as individuals to help create better access to food for others?
Actually, I think you have to start with yourself. Be a responsible eater. Know where your food comes from, and place value on that. Reward that with your business. Also donate to organizations that want to empower and facilitate change. And we’ve got to provide better nutrition in schools.

You lost 50 pounds in nine months. As a guy who is around food a lot that is impressive. Any tips for readers?
I did that by concentrating not on what I couldn’t eat, but what I really needed to eat. That’s not as easy as it sounds. And by the way, I don’t buy the “a calorie is a calorie” business. I think the kind of food matters most. Oh, and you don’t need a 12-ounce steak — ever.

How do you stay motivated and eat right with your hectic filming and travel schedule?
I look in the mirror a lot. That’ll do it.

What is your favorite guilty food pleasure?
Martinis.

What’s best about eating in the Northwest?
That’s easy – Seafood and beer.

What are the positive and negative developments in TV chef-ery in the last couple of decades?
Positive: You can educate people and influence them. Negative: It’s easy to focus on the food so sharply that you forget the people around it.

If you could invent any kitchen gadget, what would it do?
A pan that tells you when, whatever is in it, is perfectly done.

What are you reading now?
David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

What do you always have in your kitchen?
Chickpeas, sardines and Kosher salt

Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming cookbook?
This time, it’s personal.

If you weren’t a chef and author, what else would you likely be doing?
Male model.

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