Metro Atlantan Alton Brown became a fixture on the Food Network thanks to his distinctive mad scientist persona capped by a perpetually mischievous glint in his eye and his professorial intonations. He’s the anti-Rachael Ray.
So it’s not surprising his latest Food Network creation is dubbed “Cutthroat Kitchen,” a game show that debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday after the season finale of “Food Network Star.”
“I’m the mayor of Cutthroat Town,” he proclaimed in a recent interview.
Four chefs receive $25,000 each to start the show, then bid on auction items that can either help them win challenges — or sabotage others. The dilemma: spend too much to try to vanquish opponents and the winner may end up with very little money to take home in the end. Spend too little and victory becomes more difficult.
Brown said the show, shot in Burbank, Calif., is an offshoot of auctions held during some episodes of “Iron Chef America,” which he also hosts.
“While it’s about food, it’s more about game play,” he said. “You can almost never spot the winner early on. But one thing’s for sure: It’s almost never the best chef. They feel they can cook their way to the top, but that only gets you so far.”
Another cool aspect, he said, is the judges are sequestered. “They know nothing about the auctions and what people did to each other. They only judge the food on the plate,” he said.
Over 13 years until last year, Brown built his brand as host of the Food Network’s “Good Eats,” which still airs regularly on the Cooking Channel. It was shot in his Atlanta studio, which he sold just before Thanksgiving of last year.
Now he’s building a new facility closer to his home in Marietta with plans to move in next month. “We have three test kitchens and studio space,” he said.
He will use the space to shoot five-minute shorts for a new YouTube channel. “If you like ‘Good Eats,’ you’ll like what we’re going to do on YouTube,” he said. “This lets us do things the Food Network would never let us do from a culinary or comedy standpoint.”
With “Good Eats” off his plate, he joined “Food Network Star” last year, when they dabbled with a “team” concept, with Brown responsible for four contestants and squaring off against the other judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Producers returned to the regular “everyone for themselves” approach this season.
“Teams are polarizing,” Brown said. “It was too much work. It was too freaking hard. It was nerve-racking.” Plus, he knew from day one he wanted Justin Warner (who thought very much like Brown himself) to win the prize: his own show on the network.
Although Warner did end up winning, “I had these other team members who I knew weren’t going to make it. I ended up using them as sandbags to protect my guy.”
“Cutthroat Kitchen,” 10 p.m. Sundays, Food Network