The 90-minute interactive variety show features stand-up comedy, food experimentation, talk show antics and multimedia lecture.
For the first time, Brown and his trio of musicians will perform a live music opening with “The Meat Goes On,” a rewrite of the Billboard hit recorded by Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.” There will also be original food songs that range from a country tune about an airport shrimp cocktail and food poisoning to a punk rock song about Easy Bake Ovens.
The renown chef, author and Food Network star of shows like “Good Eats,” “Iron Chef America,” “Feasting on Asphalt,” “Feasting on Waves,” “Next Iron Chef,” “Food Network Star,” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” said, “Even though (the show) is about entertainment there’s still education. It’s frosted in education.”
During the evening, Brown plans to capture his audience with his quirky sense of humor and gut-busting antics expected of this charming, eccentric Southerner. In fact, it is those traits and qualities built into the bow-tie wearing Brown that makes this culinary scientist a character, straight out of the pages of a Southern Gothic novel.
Brown who “absolutely” considers himself a Southerner said, “I wouldn’t have said that when I was 20 or 25 but you’re darn-tooten I am.”
Born in Los Angeles, Brown’s family has deep Southern roots that “go so far back that nobody has been able to find any other place but Georgia for us.” His parents were both from Cornelia in North Georgia.
“They got married and came to California on their honeymoon and stayed for 10 years,” Brown said.
When he was 7, Brown’s parents bought a small AM radio station in Cleveland and moved home to Georgia. “That was a little bit of a culture shock for me from North Hollywood to North Georgia. I remember going to school with kids that didn’t wear shoes,” he said.
When Brown was 10, his father died. After his mother remarried, the family moved to Lithonia where he graduated from Lithonia High School at age 16.
“I was probably a little too young. I really wasn’t ready to be out and about,” said Brown, who attended LaGrange College and later transferred to the University of Georgia.
Though Brown does not talk with a Southern drawl and does not don a beard and camouflage, he understands what it is to be Southern.
“It would be really easy to say it’s because I say ‘ma’am’ a lot but that isn’t it. There’s a feeling — a culture in the South that is more eccentric than you get anywhere else in the country. I think we’re more ritualistic, more passionate. I think we’re better cooks. I think we’re better musicians,” he said.
Paraphrasing a Louis Armstrong quote, Brown said, “If you don’t know, I can’t tell ya.’”
“I feel that way on being Southern. If you don’t know it’s almost impossible to describe. It’s a way of looking at things that’s completely messed up in some ways and completely rational in others,” he said.
Brown recognizes the many contradictions in being Southern.
“We’re OK with our contradictions. We’re gentlemen and rakes at the same time. We’re stylish and rednecks at the same time. We’re Steeplechase and NASCAR. We’re all messed up,” he said.
But being Southern is important to Brown. “I didn’t really know it until I got older,” he said.
Though he hasn’t tried to brand himself Southern as a cook or personality, Brown’s quirky sense of humor contributes to his Southerness.
“(My sense of humor) is just inborn like some congenital defect. It comes partially from having a Southern point of view-that comes from listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd while reading Faulkner. That will mess you up, won’t it?” he asked.
“I’m pretty messed up. I still don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’m not sure I want to grow up. I still on a day-to-day basis am shocked to be alive. I have no actual plan for moving forward in my actual life. Maybe it’s a Southern thing that I’m letting the river carry me,” he said.
Brown may let the river carry him away, but one thing is for sure - he prefers the South.
“I chose to stay in Marietta. I like my town. I like the people. I like the way it looks. I like the way it feels most of the year,” he said.
“I like (Marietta’s) proximity. It’s important to me that I can fly to some place like New York relatively easily. I like being on the east coast so I can get to New York but I like being far away from New York. I like being in the real world,” Brown said.
The South offers what this man for all seasons needs.
“I need seasons. I need tornados and thunderstorms in the spring. I need it to be as hot as a microwaved army blanket in summer. I want to be able to complain about it getting cold in the winter. I want the fall. I want pollen on my car. These are the ways I can feel my life go by,” Brown said.
“Before other people can tell, you can feel the change of seasons in the air. You can tell. You can look up at the light and see it’s turning fall now, even though a leaf hasn’t changed. I can only do that in the South. I need that. It’s my clock. I can feel that in my bones,” he said.
Though his Southerness remains constant, Brown continues to reinvent himself.
“I have to feel out my skill set and then re-evaluate,” he said.
Now primarily in front of the camera, much of his current work does not involve cooking with the exception of the food demos he does on tour. Several years ago, he devoted most of his time to cooking, designing recipes and writing cookbooks.
“I will use my food knowledge. I’m using the knowledge, but I’m not touching food as much as I used to. That bothers me,” he said.
The Fox Theater is at 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. Purchase tickets in person at the Fox Theatre Ticket Office, any Atlanta-area Whole Foods location, or Ticket Alternative outlets. Call 855-ATL-TIXX or visit www.foxtheatre.org or altonbrowntour.com.