‘Worst Cooks in America’: Why Was Alton Brown So ‘Mean’ In Season 18?

Anyone who watches Food Network with any frequency knows that Alton Brown is different than your average chef and host. Taking away the retention that can often leak through on the network, Brown is comically sinister and more of an entertainer. However, when Brown came out especially rude in Season 18, many fans wondered when he lost the fun behind his previous jabs. 

The Alton Brown brand

Alton Brown
Alton Brown | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Food Network notes how Brown blurs the line between chef, mad scientist, and maniacal villain. After a brief career in film production, Brown took an interest in the culinary world. Before long, he was the face of Food Network’s Good Eats, a program that was less about cooking and more about the science and technique behind it. 

Blending its mix of Bill Nye-style edutainment with Brown’s signature sardonic wit, Good Eats propelled the up-and-comer to the culinary a-list. After American Ninja Warrior premiered, Brown was officially a Food Network superstar. He brought that same PG-13 grit to every gig he took on, but it was most prominently displayed on Cutthroat Kitchen. 

Brown is no stranger to Food Network competitions, but few seemed more on-point than Cutthroat. Taking a page from Chopped, this series featured a group of chefs who competed against one another in a cooking competition. As the title suggests, however, this was not your average cooking show. As host, Brown basked in the opportunity to sabotage contestants and let them duke it out in a game that was as strategic as it was delicious. 

Brown, himself, has a competitive edge, as well. He’s faced off in several competitions, typically as a judge and mentor in shows like Food Network Star. However, his best work might be on The Worst Cooks in America. 

What is ‘Worst Cooks in America’?

The antithesis of Food Network Star, IMDB notes how Worst Cooks in America takes a group of people who don’t know how to cook and has an all-star lineup of Food Network mentor them into superstardom. The show is a seeming mix of people who genuinely want to do better in the kitchen, others who use it for their fifteen minutes of fame, and those who blur the line between the two. 

While the hosts and mentors are a revolving door of Ann Burrell and one other chef, Brown’s seasons always seemed different. Perfectly encapsulating his biting wit, Brown knew how to construct new Chefs while cutting them down for entertainment. While Burrell consistently wins the show, judges like Brown help make it more entertaining. 

Despite this, many fans felt that Brown crossed the line during his recent reappearance on the series. 

Has Alton Brown gotten meaner?

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It’s been a roller coaster of a year for Brown. Throughout the worldwide pandemic, he delighted fans with his unfiltered web series Quarantine Quitchen. However, in November 2020 and coming off of one of the most tumultuous elections in history, NBC notes that Brown turned more than a few heads when he compared it to Nazi Germany, a taboo subject in all circles. 

Perhaps this explains why Brown appeared especially on edge during the recent season of Worst Cooks. Speaking about Brown, Reddit user u/Ashamed_Ice_6720 wanted to make sure that they weren’t alone in their disdain for Brown’s behavior. 

“Okay short and sweet here.. Does anyone else think Alton is kind of mean, especially to Leo at the very end??” they wrote. 

However, many noted that Brown acknowledged his foul mood on a YouTube stream leading up to it. There, he said that he was not fully prepared for the season. U/KnitWrite ran down the stream in another post. 

“He talked about not knowing he had to come up with the recipes to teach each week, that he thought they were provided, and that he (I’m not sure he was explicit wh this it’s been a while since I watched it) that Ann actually picked the teams or that he let her have first pick so he wasn’t looking for the person/ people who could actually win. Overall, yes, I see his mean streak,” they wrote. 

Whatever the case may be, Brown appeared snipper than usual, and the fans noticed. Brown appears to have weathered the storm from November, but it still might explain the different side we saw this last season. Perhaps he crossed a line, but the series title doesn’t imply a walk in the park, either. Whatever the case may be, fans can be assured that Brown will be back on the network sometime soon with sarcastic comments, a little attitude, and, perhaps, another chip on his shoulder. 

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