Alton Brown‘s Good Eats: The Return is almost upon us, and EW has an exclusive sneak peek at one of the dishes being featured on the show: steak tartare.
In the preview above, Brown — who wrote, produced, directed, and stars in the show — explains (for legal reasons, of course) why you “flat-out should not ever consume a raw meat dish” such as steak tartare, even though the delicacy is his “favorite dish of all time.” Once the (fictional) Food Safety Force of America agents return his beloved dog, Scabigail, whom they were holding hostage in exchange for the safety warning, Brown reverses course to explain why he believes steak tartare is worth the risk.
“Back when Good Eats was in its first run, that was still considered really French-y and potentially dangerous and not many people had had it,” Brown tells EW of getting to do an episode about the raw meat dish. “Well now, McDonald’s practically has it. They don’t, thank god — at least not yet — but steak tartare is on a lot of menus. So I finally got to do a steak tartare show.”
Ahead of the new season of the science-heavy cooking show, which originally aired on the Food Network from 1999 to 2012, Brown, well, dishes on what fans can expect from the new season, including new camera and lighting techniques, some familiar faces, crazy new sets, more modern cuisine, and more.
Watch the clip above for a look at Good Eats: The Return, which airs its first two episodes Sunday, Aug. 25 at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET on Food Network, and read on for more with Brown.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How soon after the original Good Eats went off the air did you know you wanted to get back to it, and why bring it back now?
ALTON BROWN: Well, I always planned to do it again. I wasn’t ever done. But I wanted to wait on a few things to happen. I wanted to see kind of what the world was going to look like, how the media world was going to evolve. I wanted to see how the food world was going to evolve, and how the internet was going to change the foods and ingredients that we have available. You know, I can make shows now about ingredients that five years ago, nobody could get, and now, it’s like two swipes on your phone and it’s at the door.
And then the other thing is that I wanted to see how television production technology was going to change because there were so many things I wanted to do visually as a filmmaker that I couldn’t do before. And that world has changed very, very much. So it finally just was time again to do it. It wasn’t like, oh, shoot, I gotta go make it because the fans want it. No, I was waiting for a specific crossing of the beams and the time was right to do this.
What new technologies did you get to play with this time around?
Believe it or not, lighting technology has changed and evolved more than any other part of the film and TV industry. And what we can do now, with like changing the lights in the middle of shots, or having lights come on and go off in the middle of scenes, allows for a very potent kind of theatricality to the cinematography.
The other big thing for us is, we were able to use some very new technology for camera movement. We are the first TV show to be using a system made by a company in New York called MYT Works that is a dolly system that spins from the ceiling. We can do very complex moves looking straight down, and then rotating around things. I would say the ability to move cameras in new ways and then the lighting technology are the things that are real, real breakthroughs.
You had quite the cast of memorable characters in the original. Can we expect most, or all, of them to return?
Almost all of the original characters are back. There’s only one actor that I lost to other work. But all of the original DNA, all the things that would identify a Good Eats episode as a Good Eats episode are there.
What new sets or characters can we expect?
We have a post-apocalyptic sourdough show, so it’s a show that takes place after a zombie apocalypse followed by a nuclear apocalypse followed by [the attack of] a giant Godzilla-like animal. We always work very heavy on building sets, or having settings in strange places, and we still do that, we haven’t lost that part of the tradition at all. And my wife, who’s a designer, designed the new [kitchen] set, but it’s built on the bones of the old set, and it even has its own evolutionary story for what’s happened to it since 2012.
And there’s some new characters, [but] I like to work with the same people over and over so you might see one person playing a role in one scene, and then they play a different one in another scene. There are also more sock puppets. There are more cameras in strange places: there are cameras in Ziploc bags, there are cameras in toaster ovens. So anybody watching it is going to say, “Oh yeah, that’s a Good Eats episode.”
How did you go about choosing the new episode themes this time around?
It was a balance of things that fans had really been jumping up and down for for a long time, like chicken parmesan (the focus of the premiere). And then some of them are things that I had to kind of wait for, for certain things to become more accepted by the general population. For instance, we’re doing a show about immersion circulators. I could not have done that 12 years ago because they really weren’t part of the culinary popular landscape, and they were incredibly expensive. Now, they’re much cheaper, much more available, so it was finally time to do that. Another good example is, I finally got to do an episode about steak tartare.
Part of this comes from the fact that Food Network management has changed — they’re much more creatively ambitious, I think, than they used to be because we are fighting for all those Netflix eyeballs and new eyeballs. And so I think a lot of things have happened.
What do you hope the audience gets out of the show this time around?
As someone who makes family-friendly entertainment, I really just want people to watch together. We’ve always been fortunate, people for some reason will watch it by themselves, but most of the people that have talked to me about it, watch it with other people. I don’t know why this is. I know that food brings people together, but there also seems to be something specifically about Good Eats that brings people together. And at first I thought it was because we brought a lot of men to the party. When we started making Good Eats, there were not a lot of guys watching Food Network. And because we took a very engineering-type approach to the show, more guys did. So fathers started watching with kids, and then they would cook together.
In the end, I would like to still be making a family-friendly show that’s smart, that doesn’t insult anybody, that assumes that we’re all bright people and then maybe get somebody off the sofa and into the kitchen, maybe. But that’s secondary, you know, because I can’t make you get up and go do it. But if I can change your opinion or your point of view, so the next time you eat a certain food or certain item, you have insight into it that might change your appreciation of it, I would like that.
Good Eats: The Return debuts Sunday, Aug. 25 with two back-to-back episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET on Food Network.
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