Alton Brown on the Greatest Lessons He Learned From His Grandmother About Food, Biscuits, and More

The celebrity chef, author, and storyteller joins us on Biscuits & Jam.

Alton Brown
Alton Brown . Photo: Cole Cassell

Get to Know Alton Brown

Chef, author, actor, cinematographer, musician, storyteller – it's fair to say Alton Brown changed food television forever. The Georgia native transformed a sleepy genre with his unique brand of funny, smart, and highly entertaining cooking shows, His scientific approach to cooking, as well as knack for showmanship, have made him one of the most successful food celebrities of all time, and he's not slowing down. Alton just finished the second leg of his Beyond The Eats tour, and recently released Good Eats 4: The Final Years — a door stopper of a book and what he says will be the last of his award-winning series. On this episode of Biscuits & Jam, we'll chat about his childhood in North Georgia, his complicated relationship with Southern food, and his other life as a musician. Plus, Alton shares the greatest lessons he learned from his grandmother about food, biscuits, and much more.

What Alton Brown Talks About in This Episode

Growing up in a small town in Georgia

Being a foodie very early on his life

Cooking with his grandmother

Attending culinary school

Amplifying voices

Thinking about what he's meant to do next

Releasing his new book: Good Eats 4: The Final Years

Being an avid musician

Quotes from Alton Brown

"The greatest lesson that my grandmother taught me about food was to shut up and pay attention."

"I don't know how many people I've had come up to me and thank me for the Good Eats Roast Turkey, because it saved them from the tradition of dry flavorless turkey that had currently existed in their family."

Alton Brown

The first time I locked onto some Silver Queen corn, I thought I was gonna die. I mean, that was what food was supposed to taste like.

— Alton Brown

"To talk about Southern food, we have to talk about race and we have to talk about history and here's the thing, the most beautiful thing that I can think of about Southern cuisine is in its best forms it's exquisitely exclusive and inclusive at the same time. It is of itself and of everyone at the same time. And so I think that really Southern cuisine has to be viewed constantly through the lens of history in an honest, unflinching way that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable."

"Food has a magical ability... it is connective tissue that brings people together. The words, community, communication, communion, they all have the same root it means to have in common. And it is one of the only things that food alone can do."

"I'm a storyteller. My job has always been to entertain. We used to have a sign over the studio door where we were shooting Good Eats that said, 'laughing brains are more absorbent'. You can teach if you can entertain. My job has always been to entertain first and foremost, but I've always made sure that there was something that you could take away."

About Biscuits & Jam

In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living, sits down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid takes us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.

Download and listen to this episode of Biscuits & Jam with Alton Brown on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, or everywhere podcasts are available.

Get a transcript of the full interview with Alton Brown.

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