Alton BrownThree of Food Network’s longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we’ll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor’s earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.

Alton BrownBefore you saw him as the watchful eye over Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef competitors or as the motorcycle-riding culinary adventurer on Feasting on Asphalt, you were likely watching Alton in the kitchen as he hosted Good Eats. In this epic 13-year series, Alton set out not just to teach recipes or everyday kitchen skills, but rather to tackle the science of dishes or ingredients and to explain the hows, whys and whats behind them.

Food Network Magazine visited Alton on the set of Good Eats in 2009 when the show celebrated its tenth anniversary, and he dished on the foundation of the program. “‘I’m interested in foods that people eat a lot but never make for themselves,’” he told the magazine. That idea led him to create episodes focused on such deliciously thoughtful topics as indoor grilling, homemade bread making and the proper way to clean seafood. And during each episode, he spoke from a relatable point of view and used entertaining guests and quirky props to make his point.

Alton BrownSome of the most-memorable props from the show include an oversized chalkboard and parachuting chicken, as well as vintage toys. “On average, we make at least 20 props per day, and most are used within 10 minutes of being made,” Todd Bailey, production designer of Good Eats, told Food Network Magazine.

Before Alton transitioned to the culinary world and later became a Food Network superstar, he studied drama in college and worked in the film industry. In fact, he looked to a few film-minded friends to help him tape the pilot of Good Eats in the mid-1990s.

Explore top recipes from Good Eats, and learn how to make Alton’s simple but satisfying meals at home.

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