Alton Brown Book Signing at Borders in Chicago

It’s no secret, at all, that we love Alton Brown around here. The recent Good Eats Anniversary special on Food Network called Alton’s classic show “Good Eats” one part Julia Child, one part Mr. Wizard, and one part Monty Python. That’s about the most apt description I can think of. Ten years ago, Alton set out to create a cooking show that would be fun and educational, and I don’t think anyone is doubting that he was successful. Even the shows about things I don’t like (Brussels Sprouts, Okra) are fun to watch. Sometimes, they even make me think, briefly, about trying those things. As I’ve said before, when we’re looking for a go-to recipe, for pretty much anything, Alton’s the guy. Below is a snapshot of all the Alton dishes I’ve made for the blog. The best thing about an Alton recipe is it quickly becomes a standard. Many of the things you see below are made frequently around here.

  • Pancakes
  • Salmon
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Stuffed Pork Chops
  • Pork Wellington
  • Pan Roasted Steaks
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • Fried Chicken
  • Fajitas
  • Baked Brown Rice
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese
  • Chicken & 40 Cloves
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Cheese Fondue
  • Waffles
  • French Onion Soup
  • Coconut Macaroons

So when we heard that Alton Brown was doing a signing for his new book, Good Eats: The Early Years, we were there. (P.S. Amazon has it for half the price of Borders! If you want it, I recommend you get it there)

ab book2

I plan to review the book in full once I get through it, but from what I’ve seen (Mostly from the time I spent waiting in line!) it looks excellent. The book goes through all of the recipes from Seasons 1 -6 of Good Eats, and provides updates, behind-the-scenes info, and even deleted scene-style additional recipes that didn’t make it into the original episode. I’m excited to look back over some of our old standbys and see what new tips Alton has for us!

Borders, on the other hand, gets a not-so-great review. When we saw Alton at Crate & Barrel a few years ago, there was a crazy-large crowd, but they still managed to let everyone at least have a chance at hearing the discussion/demonstration that he did. We really enjoyed that demo, but in this case, Borders had people waiting in all different sections of the 3 level store. Determined by an unpublished wristband system. We were on the same floor as Alton, and you could hardly hear that he was speaking, except that the group closest to him laughed every now and then. Why not at least broadcast that audio through the speakers over our heads, instead of the innane music we could also barely hear?

Ultimately, David and I were the only ones out of a group of 4 that stayed. The wait was too long, with too little reward it seemed. And I mostly agreed. David and I already had a signed book from the Crate & Barrel appearance, so why wait around? On the other hand, once you’ve waited around for 2 hours, what’s another hour and a half? At least we do have a signed book to show for all that waiting.

Dave’s friend Phil left reasonably early, and his friend Mike left about an hour or so after that. Dave and I stuck it out. When we’d gotten pretty close to the end, AB walked out into the crowd and offered to sign books for children so they could go home. It was a nice gesture, but it also happened right next to us in line–and it was fun to hear his conversations with the little kids.

ab kids signing

When we finally got up to our turn with AB, we introduced ourselves, got our picture taken and were pretty much on our way.

ab signing

Except, in an amusing turn of events, when we mentioned that Mike had gone home earlier (but we were still hoping to get his book signed) Alton added a tongue-in-cheek personal message to his autograph:

ab mike's book

It was all in good fun, I promise.

P.S. I also had a chance to flip through the Cake Wreck’s book while waiting in line, and I feel like buying it for everyone I know for Christmas. It’s such fun, and a great intro to the Cake Wrecks blog. I really wish I’d gone to Jen’s book signing when I had the chance, but Skokie seemed a little far for a Thursday night. *shrug*

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3 Responses to “Alton Brown Book Signing at Borders in Chicago”

  1. Myth

    The joy of a book signing for me isn’t getting a book signed – it’s getting to listen to the author and hear stories that make the creative process seem more real (and in my case, attainable). So when I found out I was stuck on the 2nd floor and couldn’t see Alton, hear Alton or even confirm for myself that he was even in the building, I bailed. Am I sorry I didn’t get to meet Alton? Yes, I am. I was sorry I didn’t get to meet Alton when I was waiting in line.

    It’s nice to see that he was actually there and that the two of you got your books signed. I went home and prepped my D&D game for Friday night.

  2. Teri


    Yeah, I definitely know what you mean. Hope it didn’t sound like I was criticizing you for leaving—I definitely wasn’t! When we realized that we weren’t going to be able to heard the demo/discussion at all, I was pretty much ready to go home, since we’ve already done the shake-hands-snap-a-picture thing with Alton. Don’t blame you for leaving at all. It did seem like it was taking longer than Borders wanted because AB was having longer interactions with the fans as they got their books signed than Borders would have preferred. Which is cool, I guess. It just would have been nice if Borders had found a way to let the whole crowd see/hear Alton, especially since they had the dumb wristbands for signing anyway. There was no reason to separate the crowd into those who are allowed to hear the discussion and those who aren’t.

  3. Myth

    Oh, no, didn’t seem like you were criticizing at all. I just wanted to point out my actual motivation for baling. That is the worst organized author signing I have seen at a Borders (I’ve been to … five?) and this one was utter crap. It’s weird, I’ve been to a huge book signing at that Borders with no problems.

    Poor planning and execution, I suppose.

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