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Roadfly Magazine
Chef Alton Brown: BMWs, Books, Good Eats & Iron Chef America
Issue Fourteen
November 8, 2004
Alton Brown:
Talks Bikes, Books, & Good Eats
Helmet Guide:
What to Look For
2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi
iPod FM Transmitter Review
Coming Next Issue
Chip Foose
BMW 760Li
VW Phaeton W12
Prepare for Winter

Alton Brown
Writer, Director, Food Hacker & Gear Head (continued)

Alton Brown makes French Toast on the set of Good Eats

Alton Brown checks in on his BMW R1100RT

The BMW R1100RT features large storage cases

Alton Brown says the BMW R1100RT is comfy & nimble

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Alton Brown
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Another benefit of the R1100RT is that it offers decent storage, thanks in part to the large, hard-shell luggage that Brown has fitted to the RT. He can stuff his 15" Apple G4 PowerBook, one of his four iPods (did we mention he's a technology junkie), and just about everything else he needs for work into the Beemer and ride.

"They [the side cases] also make great crash bars," he says with a smile. "When you drop your bike, which I did last week while taking an advanced rider course, the highway pegs and the cases kept this [massaging the front fairing] from hitting this [tapping at the ground with his toes]."

Noting our surprise at this confession, he explained, "Oh yeah - dropping my bike was traumatic, but not for me. I was doing something I shouldn't have been - going extremely slow while trying to navigate some very tight areas. After I dropped it, everyone came up to console me, and I was like, 'Why are you consoling me? Have you dropped your bike?' I was happy it happened, in a controlled environment like that. I've gotten that problem out of my system."

"The only embarrassing part was asking for help picking it back up," he says with a chuckle. "The thing weighs 600-pounds dry, so it took a few of us to get it upright again."

Alton says that despite the weight, the BMW is nimble and controllable, but it isn't exactly "flickable," and that's a trait he misses. "I've decided to add another bike - something that's more sporty, like the SV was. The naked bikes really are attractive and they're so 'real.' You're just out there - no fairings, no windshields. It's just you and the bike."

Brown said that he's also a fan of Triumphs, and that a second bike is definitely in the works. We pressed him to identify his next bike, but he couldn't put his finger on what he wanted. "It'll definitely happen before the end of the year - I'll have a second bike - there's already room in the garage for it. I just have to decide what it will be."

Despite the fun that we were having talking bikes, we had to ask Alton some questions about his role at the Food Network, and about his new book, I'm Just Here For More Food, which covers the art and science of baking. We joined Alton for lunch at a fabulous little restaurant near his production offices.

"My first book, I'm Just Here For The Food, was a bear to write. I literally locked myself in a 28-foot Airstream trailer for 3 months, and day after day, I forced myself to write for four hours and then sleep for two. I remember not knowing if it was day or night - I had no idea," he says. "When I was done, I thought the book was horrible. I was so ashamed of it."

I'm Just Here For The Food went on to receive a James Beard award, which is the culinary equivalent of a Pulitzer prize. Now in its eleventh printing (and still selling nearly 1000 copies per week), Brown is finally OK with the book. "It's funny - when I showed up for my first book signing at Barnes & Noble, I got there and the place was empty. I turned to the manager and said, 'Hey, I'm really sorry that no one showed up,' and he points to the mezzanine level above us where there were 770 people and goes, 'They're all here to see you.' I was floored. I turned to my wife and said, 'You know, maybe the book doesn't suck so bad after all.'"

His latest book, I'm Just Here For More Food was released in October and addresses baking, but does so in the typical Brown method. While traditional cookbooks include recipes that demonstrate to the reader the "what" of baking, Brown's book goes much farther. It begins with "the molecular pantry" and continues on to explore and explain the science behind all sorts of treats and goodies. Brown says the book is full of illustrations and ideas, and incorporates a neat new feature.

"When I started writing I'm Just Here For More Food, I realized that with baking, you're really only using the same seven or eight ingredients - not a lot changes with each recipe. Rather, it's the mixing technique that leads to variations in the final product, so the book focuses on mixing methods, and with each section, there's a cool 'master flap' that describes the processes. So instead of repeating information over and over within a section, the flap serves as a quick point of reference, and should make it easier to read and follow. I'm hopeful that it will have a positive influence on folks."

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