Alton Brown is a chef, a television host, a storyteller and author, and a witty explainer of the fundamentals of cooking. He’s the embodiment of Lifehacker’s culinary aspirations and unsurprisingly we regularly feature his work.
You probably know him best from his long-running show Good Eats on the Food Network, where he explored the science and methodology of cooking and the equipment required to do so. But he’s gone on to do so much more, from his best-selling books to hosting a variety of television shows, his consistently engaging podcast, and touring America with his live show. Alton even pops up on YouTube now and again (which we often share here) and maintains an active conversation on Twitter. How’s he possibly do all that? We spoke with Alton to learn a bit about how he works.
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Current Gig: Writer / producer / TV host / occasional theatrical raconteur
One word that best describes how you work: Chaotically
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer (and what OS is it running?): A beat up MacBook Air running Yosemite.
What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?
- Pencils: I love the feel of writing with lead
- Post-its: I leave myself a lot of notes
- Afterlight: I edit a lot of photos
- Spotify: I listen to a lot of music
- ForeFlight: I fly planes
- Thermapens: I cook a lot
- Silk, knit ties: Best for hiding microphones
- Knives by Cut Brooklyn: I cut a lot of stuff
What’s your workspace setup like?
I like to work standing up so kitchen counters are best — any kitchen counter will do. I’m not a big fan of sitting when I work.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Email gets answered twice a day. I’ve got back to this thing called the “telephone” for most of my communication. Quite effective.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
A Swiss Army knife because this is still a physical world and your phone can’t open a wine bottle.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I make a great martini. The secret is to keep everything (except the olives) in the freezer including the glasses.
What do you listen to while you work?
I tend to work to Jazz, typically from the late 50s-mid 60s.
What are you currently reading?
How do you recharge?
A very large Mophie.
What’s your sleep routine like?
No matter when I go to bed I’m up early. I imports best on 6 to 7 hours, but night time piddling around usually prevents it.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Never take from a partner what you can borrow from a bank.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
Until proven wrong, assume you are the weak link in any system.
We’ve asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we’ll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.