The Book You Never Knew Inspired Alton Brown's Good Eats

If you're a fan of Food Network's Alton Brown, then you know that the chef could easily be labeled as the most famous food-science enthusiast of the 21st century. Brown is not afraid to play with food and figure out its many uses and properties, and watching him experimenting with different ingredients is really like taking a masterclass in chemistry. It's always an education with the "Good Eats" host, which is why he has garnered such a large fanbase. 

Brown's desire to truly understand the techniques behind recipes inspired him to join the food world, he shared with The Bitter Southerner. Back when Brown was still working as a director of television commercials, he used to watch cooking shows and realized that they weren't teaching him anything. "I got a recipe, OK, but I don't know anything. I didn't even learn a technique," he said. "To learn means to really understand. You never got those out of those shows." So, the future host of "Cutthroat Kitchen" turned to one special book that would influence his career in food for decades to come. What do you think it was?

Harold McGee's book inspired Brown

If you answered "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee, then you're an expert on the psychology of Alton Brown. For those still learning, it might be interesting to note that in 2008, Brown penned a piece for Time and wrote, "I know of no chef worth his salt who doesn't keep a copy of Harold McGee's masterwork, 'On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,' close at hand." Presumably, McGee's teachings met Brown's need to understand cooking. Brown went on to say, "Whereas Julia Child taught 'how,' McGee explains 'why.' ... You don't need a chemistry degree to grasp what he's saying. McGee's work is readable, practical, and as useful as duct tape."

Brown wasn't being hyperbolic about his admiration of McGee. One fan asked Brown on Twitter how big an influence "On Food and Cooking" was on the star's early episodes of "Good Eats." Brown responded with a photo of a sticky note slapped on his computer reading, "Massive. It wasn't that McGee gave me all the answers; he empowered me to ask more questions." McGee's book has clearly been a force in the world of cooking, and the only thing we admire more than his influence is his humble response to Brown. "And you empowered many millions I could never reach to do the same — and to enjoy it all. Now that's massive!" he answered Brown on Twitter.