Alton Crawford Walter Brown was born on July 30, 1962 in Los Angeles, California and is 5' 11'. As the creator and host of the Food Network television show Good Eats, he brings the knowledge and enthusiasm for the science of cooking and food combined with a humorous approach to television. He then created the miniseries Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves, and is the main commentator on Iron Chef America and also the host of Cutthroat Kitchen. He is also the author of several cooking how-to books and a regular contributor to Bon Appétit (which named him "Cooking Teacher of the Year" in 2004.) and Men’s Journal magazines. Atlanta magazine named him Best Food Guru.
Brown graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in drama. He began his career as a cinematographer and producer. He was director of photography on the music video for R.E.M.'s "The One I Love." He worked the steadicam on the Spike Lee film School Daze. He was dissatisfied with the quality of cooking shows then airing on American television. Not possessing the requisite knowledge as his wife DeAnna pointed out, he applied to three culinary schools. His wife promised that if he was accepted, they would move and she would support him.
In 1995, Alton was accepted to the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, graduating in 1997. He then set out to produce his own show. A poor science student in high school and college, the subject was focused on to understand the processes involved with cooking. He wrote the first episodes of Good Eats while working the grill at a restaurant in North Carolina. The couple shot demo episodes with friends at an Atlanta film company. A clip was on the Kodak website, and programming executive Matthew Stillman saw huge potential. Production started in 1999, and the show premiered on Food Network that July.
Brown lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife DeAnna, his daughter Zoey (born in 1999), a basset hound mix named Matilda (he had another that had to be put to sleep), and a green iguana named Spike, although he claims to have disposed of a nasty lizard in a Good Eats episode.
Brown is a born-again Christian and a member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.
He is a connoisseur of cheese and vinegar and is also a motorcycling enthusiast, even basing an entire limited-run series around a motorcycle adventure (the aforementioned Feasting on Asphalt). He owns a 2005 BMW R 1150 RT, which he bought used from a local BMW motorcycle dealer.
Brown was a contributor to the 2005 cookbook Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs. He selected the nonprofit world hunger organization Heifer International to receive a portion of the royalties.
Brown is also a budding aviator completing his first solo on June 25, 2007 towards his private pilot certificate. He earned his private pilot certificate on June 5, 2008, and was featured in the aviation magazine AOPA Flight Training.
Brown is an avid knife collector. In addition to his personalized line of Shun kitchen knives, in Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt he can be seen using Spyderco and Kershaw products.
He also does photography, collects art, and scuba dives.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions 2009 "Educator of the Year"
- Peabody Award 2007 for 'Good Eats' (part of cast)
- Bon Appétit "Cooking Teacher of the Year" 2004
- James Beard Foundation "Kitchenaid Book Award" 2003 for 'I'm Just Here For the Food'