Can you identify this? Don't worry if you can't; just scroll down and I'll tell you.
On Friday night, the GF and I headed up to Third Place Books to see Alton Brown and ask him to sign our copies of Good Eats: The Early Years. Later in the evening, we met up with the GF's coworker Gus, his wife Lulu and their seriously large infant while they waited at the signing, too.
We got there at about 4:15 and there were already dozens of people in line. The GF picked up our tickets and her book; I went in to purchase mine (I also walked out with a copy of Marjorie Liu's "Darkness Calls"). They planned to shut down the store 5 hours early because of the anticipated crowd.
The line kept growing and growing, like the fireworks snake from an early South Park episode. By the time they let the line inside, there were hundreds of people. By the time Alton took the stage at 6:30, there were 900+ people there -- all for an evening of culinary geekery.
In case you had any doubts, the new, trim, Alton Brown is awesome. Rather than read from the book, he just took questions from the crowd for about 50 minutes. He was funny, quick, informative, and thoroughly entertaining.
He mocked the Food Network website.
He praised his wife.
He mocked mini-vans.
He advocated chaining children in the kitchen so you can get some ROI from them.
He mocked vegans and said the only vegan dish he would make would be a vegan pie, and only if he could use actual vegans as the main ingredient.
He advocated eating pandas
He mocked molecular gastronomy.
He offered to by a woman's artificial chicken for $1,000.
He praised his two favorite foods: eggs and beer.
He was snarky, sarcastic, and smart. If you get the chance to see him, do it.
He spoke for about 50 minutes (some of my favorite lines are here) and then began the signing marathon.
He started signing books at 7:30. We finally got to see him at 10:10.
He looked tired. No, he looked utterly exhausted. He was desperately in need of a nap and a shave. He had just flown in that afternoon and had to fly out to San Diego at about 6:AM the following morning.
Despite that, and despite already having spoken with hundreds of people, he was still nice and friendly. He took a few moments to chat with us while he signed our books, and the object at the beginning of this post -- the GF's Kitchen Aide Mixer:
We got the idea of getting non-book objects signed some years ago when we saw him for the second time. We brought wooden spoons to a presentation and he happily autographed those.
We then envisioned getting spoons signed by a number of Food TV personalities and famous chefs.
Of course, we never met any others. So this time, I hauled the mixer around on my back until it was our turn to chat with him.
Apparently lots of people ask him to sign kitchen items -- mixers, blenders, and more.
When we left, he probably had another hour or more to go.
Alton Brown may be snarkier on stage than he is on TV, at the heart of it all, he is a class act who genuinely appreciates his fans.
If you like his stuff, his recipes, or his show, go seem him if he comes to your area.
If you are still reading at this point, I'd also like to point out that despite the late hour and crush of people, the staff at Third Place was also great. Especially they cheery, purple-haired woman who took the pictures for us.
You can see a few more pictures of the event here.