Pat Clark

Celeb chef makes the food rounds in Modesto

Good thing I got the hang of Twitter recently; otherwise, how would I have cyber- staked-out celebrity food guru Alton Brown last week?

Dude was all over Modesto on March 18, eating his way around town and posting pictures about his culinary exploits.

Coincidentally, I wrote last Friday about my newfound love of Twitter voyeurism, being the little fly hovering around the bluebird’s cyberwalls. The day after the column was filed, I found out Brown was tweeting his way through Modesto in anticipation of his show that night at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

Did I have tickets? Ha! Of course I had tickets. What food show/competition junkie would miss an opportunity to see the Food Network’s biggest and smartest star?

But first, there was the staking out to do.

Currently on his first live roadshow, “The Edible Inevitable Tour,” Brown has been making his way across the country and recording his movements for all to hashtag on Twitter. Modesto’s sold-out show came the night after a show in Fresno, where he posted, among other things, a picture of Fresno peppers and wrote that he “had no idea they were named after the town.”

Fresno now can claim to have taught something about food to the smartest food guy on the TV planet. Impressive.

Brown is part chef, part food scientist, part TV host and, after seeing him last week, I’d add part comedian.

His show was almost as funny as fellow celeb chef Anthony Bourdain’s at the Gallo Center in 2011. (Did I have tickets to see Bourdain? Ha! Of course I had tickets.)

But Bourdain didn’t sing. Not that the singing was the highlight of Brown’s show, but … well, there was, indeed, singing.

Still, the show was great, and staking out Brown’s exploits around Modesto all day was almost as entertaining. His first Motown tweet came in the morning from Preservation Coffee and Tea on J Street, where he enjoyed a “Cacao Tipper” and posted a picture of his mug (coffee mug, not face).

Next up, he posted a video of himself signing the Food Fix food truck, a mobile eatery that often can be found, I learned, parked on Coldwell Avenue. He later posted a picture of a mouthwatering sandwich from the Food Fix, along with some culinary praise.

Not done, he posted a picture of his meal and the Los Portalitos food truck, saying, “I was told I couldn’t leave Modesto without a visit to the tacos trucks (stet … even really smart people make typos). I listened and I agree.”

As he always does, he posted a shot inside the empty Gallo Center theater before the doors opened and, shortly after, a shot of the sold-out crowd.

But that wasn’t all the Twitter love that Brown sent Modesto’s way. Or all the love that Twitter sent to Brown while he was here. Not too long into the show, it was announced that he had just hit a million followers on the social media mega-network.

Which, of course, led to cake. (Everything should, eventually, lead to cake, yes?)

His crew and the folks at the Gallo Center anticipated the 1 million marker for Twitter followers would hit in Modesto and had a cake made by local eatery Greens that was presented to him onstage. It was decorated to look like a yellow Post-it. Yellow Post-its are part of Brown’s schtick.

After the show came his final Modesto tweet, and a major shout-out to Greens: “Cake was fantastic @GreensModesto. I can honestly say one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. Thank you.”

From a guy who has judged and eaten food made by the biggest culinary gods in the industry, that was seriously impressive.

(Quick, let’s get cake!)

According to Doug Hosner, marketing and public relations director at the Gallo Center, no past performer has spent so much time making their way publicly through Modesto, although Kenny Rogers, an avid photographer, did walk and drive through town taking pictures.

And that should have been where my cyberstalking, er, stake out, of Alton Brown should have ended. Except it didn’t.

The next day, I was getting my hair cut in McHenry Village when a little birdie – this one wasn’t blue, by the way – told me Brown had made one more stop in Modesto before heading out the night before, at Bauer’s Skillet & Grill.

Bauer’s, I’m told, is so good, it’s where all the chefs in Modesto go after work to eat, located with Vieira’s Lounge in the Village. Brown reportedly loaded up on a variety of takeout items.

While the tweets and show were great fun, the best part of Brown’s visit just might have been learning about some of the more hidden culinary gems in town. Lunchtime may have just gotten a lot better for it.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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