Whodathunk it? Alton Brown in Texas? Well, according to him, this wasn't his first time here. He knows all about Kreuz's Market in Lockhart and about the regional fly-ins. Thus it sounds like Feasting in Air and Space is possibly under way.
What was he doing here? It's all part of a promotional book tour to endorse his new book, Good Eats: The Early Years. My lovely spouse is working on a book review, as a guest blogger, and will have it posted some time this week. So far I've skimmed the book and it appears very much like the episodes of his show, with recipes broken down in much the same way, trivia about the item of the day and the reasons why things are prepared the way they are. Therefore this book is a handy item to have around any kitchen.
So what was the book signing like? First off, we had to drive to Austin. I'm not surprised, given that College Station isn't exactly a large town and isn't known as a foodie mecca. The signing was at the Whole Foods Market on Lamar, close to downtown. There was a media event earlier in the day attended by MisoHungryNow and Austin area food bloggers. The rest of us had to purchase a copy of the book from The Book People, located across the street next to the REI and get a wrist band. Due to the distance between College Station and Austin, I ordered our books and wrist bands in advance and The Book People very graciously mailed them to us a couple of weeks ago. They also placed us in the first group of people for the signing.
The signing itself was on the roof of Whole Foods, which boasts a lovely cactus and mesquite container garden. The weather was nice and there was adequate shade. People were grouped into red, yellow and blue groups - I'm guessing about 100 - 200 people each - and sent in with their groups. After the media event Mr Brown walked up to the roof and started signing books. Before signing each copy he introduced himself, "Hi, I'm Alton" and shook hands with each and every person there. Then he posed for pictures with the person getting the book signed and engaged in light hearted small talk. The people waiting in line, without exception, were all in very good spirits and fun to talk with.
When it was our turn to meet Mr Brown, my spouse went first. They shook hands, introduced each other and I took pictures. They discussed making a trip to Kreuz's Market in Lockhart. :-) Next it was my turn. I shook hands with him and introduced myself. Then thanked him for coming to our little neck of the woods. He said he likes Texas and the people here. I'm sure he says that about every city he visits, mostly because everyone surely treats him very well, but it's still a very nice thing to say. I'll be honest and say that he was very gracious and a generally very nice person to meet. After the very brief meeting we moved along to let others progress in line and were given a boxed set of dessert DVDs from Good Eats. They didn't have to provide swag, but it was very nice of them to do that.
Now some of you might have noticed Alton Brown has lost a lot of weight. He's admitted such in a number of interviews. A lot of fans on LiveJournal and elsewhere have expressed concern about what appears to be extremely rapid weight loss. First off, it looks extremely rapid because of his production schedule. He's had months off, so any major change in his appearance will look abrupt. Second, during the book signing, he was jovial and full of energy and warmth. This was not an ill man. Reading into his AV Club interview it looks very likely that he's had a lap-band procedure or something similar. He expressed a desire to lose weight and said repeatedly that he's happy with his new, 50 lbs lighter, weight. More than a few people have said they liked him better heavier and don't like the new, lighter Alton Brown. Honestly, those people need to realize that he's a human being beyond his television persona. He stated he was unhappy with his weight and did something about it. Now he says he's much happier. Good for him. He's a busy man with a demanding job. It's good he can do something to make himself happy. And regardless of how "haggard" some people say he now looks, he looks just fine in person.