Alton Brown follows me on Twitter.
I know, I know, a few of you are probably pretty jealous right now. I like following Alton’s Twitter feed for a few reasons: he has a dry sense of humor, he retweets all the mean things people say about him and he’s interactive with it. People seem to have a love-hate relationship with Brown’s online escapades, and frankly so does he.
He initially joined Twitter to - as Brown puts it - "shut up" his agent, and there have been a few bumps in the road since then. Shortly after, a troll opened an account impersonating his wife, and Brown "had an aneurism."
“I don’t take that kinda crap off of anybody," says Brown - and left Twitter immediately.
Luckily for Food Network's "Good Eats" fans, Twitter was able to woo him back after their team promised to help avoid a repeat.
My personal favorite was when he went into the "Good Eats" prop room and had followers guess which episode props came from by posting their picture.
Alton Brown has a “keep your enemies closer” attitude towards those not-so-friendly followers. "I've gotta be able to take all of that in and give everyone an equal voice," he recognizes. He even helped @AltonBrownSucks pass 1,000 followers.
Brown is currently on a whirlwind cross-country book tour. You’d think with "Good Eats" production done the man would have some time on his hands, but between promoting his new book - Good Eats 3: The Later Years - and prepping for the new season of "The Next Iron Chef," Brown is beyond busy.
Before embarking on the tour, he put out what he called a "fanifesto" - a simple guide for fans who were planning on coming out to one of his book signings.
It includes requests like “Please don’t ask me to talk to someone on the phone”, or “please don’t talk to me in a public restroom” and “I try to keep physical contact to a minimum” (to avoid "being responsible for accelerating the spread of what could be a potentially deadly illness," of course).
He even has a disclaimer for social media followers: "If you are the kind of person who takes offense at being 'snubbed' on social media, please don’t follow or friend me as a disappointment is all but guaranteed."
Brown says that his fellow food professionals have been really positive about the social contract, and some have even asked to borrow and modify it for their own use. Only a small percentage of the public has been really angry, and to those he says "stay away."
Brown takes tours seriously. He signs from a high table so he can move quicker and pose for pictures. He also lets families with kids come to the front of the line and he stays until the end, always.
He’s had some fans do some crazy things at signings - some have asked to have kitchen tiles signed, and some have even slipped him their hotel room keys. But, he says it’s the other stuff that makes it all worth it.
Brown has a shrine to fans set up in his office to honor all the cool stuff people have brought him. He’s got pictures kids have drawn for him, and fans' favorite family recipes.
One of his most recent additions is a scrapbook a young boy made that chronicles his culinary adventure of becoming a foodie. Proof that sometimes the best followers are the ones right in front of you.
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