It is even hard for me to realize the last event with Alton Brown I attended was my 12th time, one whole dozen!, going to see him. Wow, that really blows my mind. But I had wanted to meet AB ever since his first book tour way back in 2002 with the release of I’m Just Here for Food. At that time, I had only been watching Good Eats for a little over a year but loved the show so much that there was no doubt I wanted to meet the man behind it.
Well having a crappy job (another thing that’s hard to believe I had a worse paying job than I do now) and limited transportation options there was no way I could ever see him in some far off city because he wasn’t coming anywhere near W.Va. so I could just drive to Charleston to meet him. So I waited and waited and waited for circumstances to change–either AB would come to my neck of the woods or I would make a trip to see him.
A few years ago somethings did change and I have managed to see AB do many demos, lectures and book signings. By the time I first met him in person, I had moved from just loving Good Eats to enjoying just about anything AB put his name to.
Since starting this fansite I also get a chance to share these events with others still waiting to get their chance to meet Alton. I know it is not where near as awesome as meeting him, believe me I’ve been there reading others’ accounts and stories and hoping for that same opportunity, but I hope it can help.
As with tradition here’s the details of seeing Alton on Dauphin Island, Ala.
At the evening’s big VIP event I spent the first part of it weaving through the crowd trying to talk with Alton. While I had a media pass for both this event and the morning’s gumbo cookoff it didn’t give me real access to talk with Alton as I hoped. I appreciated having the pass to get in very much and still can’t believe I even had it, but I was saddened that during the morning I wasn’t allowed to go with the rest of the out-of-town press on the shrimp boat to hear from AB and the scientists from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the FDA Lab about the state of Gulf seafood. I had all intentions of doing some write ups on that as well as all of the Alton related events. For some reason I was told the boat ride was for out-of-town press but not me even though I was five states and one time zone away. Who knows why? I really wanted to go so I could help get the message out about Gulf seafood.
Not having a chance to speak with him in the morning, that left me with trying to track down Alton at the evening event to tell him a few things, like a big congrats on the James Beard Award nomination. He seemed to think he wouldn’t win. But I told him I was hoping for the win AND he should’ve won last year.
Sometime before I manged to sneak up to him, mom caught up with him first. He signed her program and asked if she had enough things with his name on them. Mom told me later she should’ve told him no because you (meaning me) give away most of them. I told her, you have to be on your toes with him.
After Alton spoke on the state of Gulf seafood for a few minutes he resumed meeting the folks at the event. Although the weather was turning bad and he wanted to exit for Atlanta earlier than planned, he stayed to sign items and talk with as many people as possible. When he came off the stage the horde descended on him. I was a few rows back watching people surrounding him, asking for autographs and posing for pictures.
I brought two books with me, figuring that getting in on a media pass wouldn’t entitle me to a free Good Eats book. After waiting and watching the people moving in and around Alton, I finally went up to his assistant, Jim, and gave him the gifts I brought for AB. I didn’t know if I would ever push through that crowd of people or if Alton would ignore me since I had met him so many other times. At one point and older gentleman came up to me and said, “We’ll wedge in up there and get to him.” I smiled and let the man go first.
Finally some of crowd thinned. I was very close to AB and next to get my chance. He turned away again worked some other part of the crowd. I stood with my copy of I’m Just Here for More Food waiting. Then I heard, “You have a book left?” come from Alton as he grabbed it. I told him it was one of my last ones. I had the softback copy of Gear for Your Kitchen with me but didn’t pull it out. While Alton signed the book I told him about the fundraiser for Heifer International and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sadly, he said he didn’t know about it so he must have not received the card and letter from the organizations. But he knows now.
Then the most surreal thing happened. I’ve known for a long time that Alton remembers me. He even told me at the 10th Anniversary show that he did. Of course after all of my interview pursuits and doing this fansite, I know that he knows me by facial recognition. Sometimes telling people this brings out the haters who want to call me nasty names because they think I’ve made this up. But now I have the most awesome twist to add to the “yes he knows me story.” In taking my book to sign, there were no post-it notes as usual at book signings and there were no name tags, so when AB started to make out the book I saw the sharpie go down then he wrote “To Lisa,” without asking me anything or even hesitating. Yeah, he remembered my name and how to spell it (not that its hard to spell). I paused for a second to realize what had just happened. Its one thing to know it but another thing altogether to witness that yeah he really knows my name.
I wandered around the Sea Lab for a bit longer watching people talking with AB. I saw one woman ask him to sign her arm, which he did, and a young fan ask for a hug. He was accommodating to everyone. I stood around with my iphone snapping a few photos (the ones above). Then I saw AB walk over to me. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it. Part of me thought he would make a comment about the amount of photos I had been taking. But he didn’t. He told me he was going over into the next section of the Sea Lab. So I followed with my iphone in tow.
Before we entered the event I was talking with several people outside of the Sea Lab. One couple ran into me again and the woman asked if I got my book signed. I showed them and the man said, “Oh you got the little guy. But what does that mean?” I explained to him that I had seen Alton many times, did the fansite, and this was my last book. Shortly after they left the other couple came up to me and the woman asked if I thought Alton would sign her book, the free one with the tickets. I told her probably.
Eventually Alton moved toward her and since I was talking with her, I ended up right next to him again. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked about the next book. He said it is coming out in October and there will be a book tour. He didn’t, however, know the cities yet.
Lastly, I wished him a safe flight home and he went on to talk with more people before heading out and I left to explore the island some more.
I have a Flickr album with all of the photos from both the gumbo event and the VIP event up if you’d like to check them out. Go here!
I leave with a photo from outside of where the event was held. This is looking toward Mobile Bay. Also, I have fallen in love this this area and hope to get back there soon.