Tag Archives: true stories

Close Encounters of the Good Eats kind.

Picture of Alton Brown, and the Good Eats logo.
All rights to the original copyright holder. Source

Since this is a long post with several videos, I decided to Add a table of Contents.

Table of Contents

  1. Table of Contents
  2. A fan blog post to Alton Brown
  3. Celebrity and Fanatics
  4. That Wednesday
  5. Past (book signing) Encounters
  6. Arrival, with an Ice cream Sandwich
  7. Anticipating the encounter while waiting in line…
  8. The Chef at the End of the Universe Line

A fan blog post to Alton Brown

(I really should have taken more pictures when I went… This is what happens when you want to live in the moment, then decide later that the experience would make a good blog post. Hashtag blogger life. 😅😑)

At the end of April, one of my heroes, Alton Brown was in town for a book signing. A TV Chef and cooking celebrity, known for years of the TV show Good Eats published a new book, and there was no way I was going to miss out. I’ve been a huge fan since my cooking awakening junior year in high school when my mom opened a bakery with a (former) friend. This lit the burner of my desire to become a Chef. To go to cooking school after high school. I got my degree and cooked professionally for a long time… But as Alton Brown would say often in Good Eats, that’s a topic for another episode (blog post).

Alton Brown was the first Chef, the first teacher of cooking that explained the science of cooking in a clear, easy-to-understand, and fun way. Though I went to cooking school myself, and have restaurant industry experience, Alton Brown opened my eyes to the science of cooking. It helped that I could relate to him as a nerdy white guy myself. Or like that older male cousin whose starting the next phase of life ahead of you, who you admire for being so wise. (Hmmm. I’m that man now 😅🥲🤷. Oof, Lol.)

I watched every episode of the first batch of Good Eats on the Food Network, have a couple of books, and search to see if he has a recipe online when cooking something new. (I’m behind on the second series/the return of Good Eats.) I did watch the food competition shows he hosted for a bit but lost interest in that genre of shows, just not my thing.

Celebrity and Fanatics

I am not a celebrity person. I don’t care about fame, celebrity worship/obsession, or famous people. Celebrity worship disgusts me. Up to this point, the closest encounter I had with a celebrity was when I was on vacation with my family in Italy.

My family saw “Elton John” walking down the street in Italy… I don’t remember where we were since it was in 2006. We saw him in full costume. A purple suit, the iconic glasses, rhinestones, and peacock feathers walking down the middle of the street in a tourist area. We stopped as he walked by and did a double take. Another tourist said: Was that Elton John?

Elton John in a purple suit.
Something like this. (source)

The person was likely an Elton John impersonator… Because I doubt Elton John walks down a busy street in full costume in Italy with no apparent security. So, a fun memory. Probably not the real person.

Ironically, comedian Roy Williams Jr has a hilarious story similar to this about Rod Stewart. Called: “The “real” Rod Stewart.” (It’s stand up comedy, so not safe for work)

That Wednesday

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the pandemic and the past 3 years, is that you might not have another opportunity. That person might die tomorrow, they might not be the same person you knew, and that chance might slip away.

All you have is this present moment. So, when you have an opportunity to do something meaningful that’s reasonable, do it. I don’t want regrets haunting me again over what could have been.

When something comes up that I want to do, I remember how it feels to miss out. I go an do it.

I do it.

In this situation, I saw an article on Facebook that Alton Brown would be in town, for a Good Eats book signing, likely the last Good Eats book, I bought tickets immediately. 1 day ahead of time at a Williams Sonoma store in town.

The timing of this event couldn’t be better. I was stuck at home, recovering from the Moderna booster, and feeling depressed and lonely. Why?

Past (book signing) Encounters

I didn’t remember until writing this, that I’ve been to autograph events before. It’s been a long time between each. Those three were for autographed memorabilia from Seattle Mariners baseball players. One of which was a book, signed by Alex Rodriguez, a star player for us in the 90s. A-Rod later admitted he used Steroids. Between that, him going to the New York Yankees, and starting the multi-million salaries trend for athletes… I’m not sure how I feel about having that book. It’s a weird feeling. I digress.

Arrival, with an Ice cream Sandwich

The event was scheduled in the evening right at rush hour. Which for that part of town, for the Williams Sonoma store that hosted the event, has awful stop-and-go traffic. I left an hour early to beat traffic, and to beat the autograph traffic line.

The Williams Sonoma store for the event is located in a bougie (aka upscale) shopping center within walking distance to the University of Washington campus. These places aren’t somewhere I go. It’s not my scene.

I decided to get something to eat there since it had so many niche eateries, and to take in the alien surroundings of stores I’d never shop at near Williams Sonoma. I found a map and decided on an ice cream sandwich shop that used a variety of cookies/ice cream flavors for the combo. It’s called Hello Robin. The ice cream they use is from a local chain called Molly Moon. I chose chocolate chip cookies as the “bread” and chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream as the filling. Both were good. The cookie’s texture was just firm enough to bite through, and have a bit of crunch for a variety of textures, and the ice cream flavors each stood out to compliment, but not overwhelm.

Gif of making an ice cream sandwich.

Anticipating the encounter while waiting in line…

People waiting in line, old photo in black and white.
Was something like this, except the direction reversed. I was on the far left. All in all, the wait wasn’t too bad. Source

I felt fine until the line got to the store entrance, where a Williams Sonoma store employee was keeping count of how many people were in the store for covid safety. About 80-100 people in line inside the store, from the electronic kitchen appliances, along the north side of store 3 sections, to the center of the store… Where Alton Brown stood at a standing desk. As the line moved 1 person forward every 30 to 60 seconds, my anxiety and/or excitement grew.

The wait wasn’t too long, all in all, I stood in line for about 20 minutes. As the line progressed closer, I rehearsed what I was going to say.

I had something else planned for this section, about what I was thinking in line as I approached, but I forgot since I wasn’t committed to a blog post for this experience at the time in April. So… in a nod to the title, I think that this famous clip from the movie Close Encounters of the third kind, when humans are attempting to communicate with the Alien spaceship will be a good metaphor for how I feel to approach a celebrity you admire when you are starstruck:

The Chef at the End of the Universe Line

I reach the end of the line, and there he is. Chef Alton Brown dressed up like he is on Chopped or Iron Chef America. Out of nervous habit, I lock my phone. Not what you want to do when an employee from the Williams Sonoma store is taking pictures for you with your phone. Pictures? Hell. Yes.

I was content with meeting him with his new cookbook.

I was shaking because I was so excited, that I messed up my password. Reentered, and walked three places. And…. There he was 3 feet away. Behind a standing table. He’s a real person.

I froze.

I handed him my copy of his book and stared in awe at him. If I wasn’t wearing a kn95 mask, my open mouth would be open.

He asked if the name in the book was me, and signed my book.

“That’s me!…” I said.

“I hope you find it useful.” Alton Brown said.

Thanks Chef! I said. Turned and walked out. As soon as I turned I knew it was too late. I froze. Damnit. Sigh. lol… Oh well. I still loved the experience, even though it wasn’t what I expected.

I got lost trying to find the way back to my car. I tried taking the same stairs back up, but the door was locked. After getting further lost, I walked another quarter mile in the service hallways for stores. Then, found the escalators up, which were out of service. Thankfully the elevators worked. Which I got off on the wrong floor, one level down. I eventually found my car and drove home. It’s funny now, but I can laugh about that strange ending. Come on dude, you’re 36. Adults don’t get lost in malls. I followed that classic odd mall map and still had trouble. Lol.

The interesting hoodie I wore by Lunafide was a birthday present I bought for myself, and was the first time I’d worn it. I love it because it’s in my natural clothes color range, yet so wild and unlike my typical style of solid color clothes. I think I might’ve thrown Mr. Brown for a loop with it.

Signed copy of book: Good Eats the final years

Plot twist: I’m the alien!

Thanks for reading! Have you had an encounter with a celebrity or had a book signed by one before? If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and subscribe. I’m setting a goal to blog more often, dependent on my health.

Copyright © Reilly Anderson 2022.