Students eat up tickets for Alton Brown show

There are plenty of reasons why students choose their majors. Some choose majors that will lead to prosperity, some choose a major that will allow them to further their passions, and still others choose based on parental pressure.

Alton Brown, host of Food Network’s massively popular “Good Eats,” award-winning cook and Oakland University’s guest at a sold-out lecture Wednesday, Sept. 30 was a theater major while a student at the University of Georgia.

“There were a lot of girls in the theater department, so it seemed like a good choice,” Brown said with a laugh. “It worked for me; people always said it’s never going to do any good, but look at what I do now — I’ve been on TV for 10 years.”

While it planted the seeds of acting into his career, Brown’s college degree didn’t lead him right to television stardom. At Georgia, he began to work in cinematography and film production.

This career choice paid off; he was the director of photography for R.E.M.’s music video “The One I Love” and also worked as a steadicam operator on the Spike Lee film “School Daze.”

“I learned how to cook in college to get girls,” Brown said. “It all led right back to girls and getting dates. Then, food became a hobby for me.”

In the early 1990s, however, Brown began to cook up (no pun intended) what his career path would be.

“I was watching a lot of food shows, and they were boring, I wasn’t learning anything, and finally, I thought ‘Somebody ought to make a better food show,’ and I decided I could make a better one,” Brown said. “We at least made things different. I won’t say that it’s good or bad, but I will say that it’s different and continues to be.”

After graduating with his wife from the New England Culinary Institute in 1997, Brown began working toward his culinary future by airing cooking episodes on local television in Chicago. And with that, “Good Eats” was born.

Since the show debuted in 1999, it has become one of the highest-rated shows on Food Network and has earned high praise from notable organizations such as the James Beard Foundation (“Best TV Food Journalism Award” in 2000) and the Peabody Awards (2006 award).

The first 80 episodes of the show have even been compiled into the first of two hardcover books called “Good Eats: The Early Years.” In addition to hosting “Good Eats,” Brown is the host commentator for “Iron Chef America” and starred in his own mini-series, “Feasting on Asphalt” and “Feasting on Waves.”

After 10 years of being on the air, sources of inspiration have not run out for Brown.

“My wife of 16 years has been with me through thick and thin and none of this would have happened without her, actually. I also have a 9-year-old daughter — a lot of inspiration comes from her. Most of my inspiration comes from real close by.”

Despite his meteoric rise to Food Network television fame, Brown credits his humility to staying close to home and not being influenced by outside sources.

With his success, awards and fame, Brown could get caught up in the glitz and glamour of TV and stardom. The Georgia alumnus, however, keeps his feet on the ground.

“All I know for sure is that I’m employed and I’m really glad to be. I’m still up at night, washing my own laundry, I don’t have security detail, I don’t get special parking — I’m just sort of a regular guy,” Brown said.

A humble attitude, engaging personality, and extensive culinary knowledge will accompany Brown to OU.

The choice to bring him to OU was made by the Student Life Lecture Board, Oakland University Alumni Association, Chartwells Dining Services and the Oakland Press.

“We want students to be introduced to new ideas and concepts, and to be inspired by the lecturer,” said Paul Franklin, coordinator of campus programs for the CSA, “…[he] was the students’ first choice for this year’s lecture series.”

Brown’s lecture is titled “The Science of Food” and will incorporate his unique style of kitchen expertise with the humor and accessibility that is seen in every episode of “Good Eats.”

With his unique mix of talents, OU will have plenty to look forward to when Alton Brown enters the O’Rena for a 7 p.m. lecture.

“I never, ever repeat a lecture. This one will be put together … by a very motivated individual,” Brown said. “You prepare a lot of stuff, you walk into the room, and you play the room.”