Why Alton Brown Doesn't Actually Consider Himself A Chef

Alton Brown, a Food Network star and food scientist extraordinaire, is known for his kooky personality on "Cutthroat Kitchen" and his scientific mind on his TV show "Good Eats". Brown has been in the culinary world since graduating from the New England Culinary Institute in 1997, kicking off his first TV show in July 1999 after deciding that he wanted to make non-traditional cooking shows, when he first started out in film directing commercials (via Food Network).

Brown was unsure about cooking but took an interest in finding the best cooking show. He wanted to create a show that would not only present the recipe but also squeeze in some scientific aspects and some humor followed by a dash of history to spice up mundane cooking shows. Though he is mostly known as a celebrity chef on the Food Network, with a long list of culinary shows under his belt, Brown doesn't consider himself a chef at all.

Not the boss of the kitchen

Alton Brown's transformation throughout his career had people questioning his choices. He started off as a cameraman while he was still in college and then went off to direct TV commercials for almost a decade before he went to culinary school. This is where Brown combined his two passions in life: television and culinary science. He defines "chef" by using the German origins of the word. "It's not a title, it's a job. It's a position in a kitchen. It comes from an old German word that means 'boss' or "head of the shop" (via AV Club).

It's because of his early career and later studies in the culinary world that he does not consider himself a chef. He doesn't boss people around in the kitchen but instead, he directs people around a TV set. "That's the closest thing to a chef I am. All the good chefs that I know say that they are cooks employed as chef. All the people that say, 'I'm a chef,' generally aren't. The good ones will say, 'I'm a cook.'" Brown's shows define who he is. He sees himself as a film-maker and director before he sees himself as a chef.