Alton Brown comes to Broadway

Alton Brown was always the different one.

Among the chefs who became celebrities on the Food Network — Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse — the bespectacled Brown stood out as a regular if quirky guy, a smart, amusing, relatable populist in the kitchen, whether hosting the big boys — and girls — on “Iron Chef America” or starring on his own show, “Good Eats,” which ran for 14 seasons.

A bit of a nerd, he eagerly explored how cooking worked — what actually happens when that egg boils? — and pooh-poohed the need for fancy strainers and choppers and pitters to prepare tasty, healthful food.

“Really, I was always just being myself,” Brown said the other day in a midtown New York publicist‘s office, coming across as personable and quick-witted — a guy who gets it — just as you expected him to be.

Part of his distinctiveness, he suggested, is a matter of arriving in food television from a different place. “Mario and Bobby and the others were chefs who had their own restaurants; I came from show business,” he said.

Now, Brown is about to reach the ultimate in live show business — he‘s bringing his talents to Broadway.

The vehicle, which he described as a “culinary variety show,” is “Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science.” Mixing food preparation with comedy, puppets and music (he also sings), it begins a week-long run Nov. 22 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

One of its main features, he said, is going to be outsized versions of the kind of demonstrations he‘s done on television.

“We‘re going to do experiments that were too big for TV. You can‘t build a 12-foot Easy-Bake oven to make pizza on a TV show.” There will, he promised, also be lots of audience participation.

Brown hadn‘t ever planned a career centered on food.

He was a film student at the University of Georgia, where his interest in cooking had a utilitarian purpose.

“I used it to court ladies,” he said. “I wasn‘t wildly successful with women, and I discovered that, sometimes, I could get a date by offering a home-cooked meal. So food was kind of a dating portal.” After college, he worked as a cinematographer, before noticing that food was beginning to become a big thing on cable television.

He enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute, and just a couple of years after graduating in 1997, he was on the Food Network with his own program.

While he‘s certainly capitalized over the years on his ability as a showman, Brown has also benefitted from the enormous viewership for TV series on food, cooking and restaurants.

Not surprisingly, it‘s a phenomenon he‘s thought about.

“Our culture has become shattered and scattered, with all kinds of social media, but food remains something we all have in common,” he said. “I think we seek community, and food is a unifying force.” That, in turn, has led to chefs, once unseen kitchen workers, becoming figures of domestic glamour, “surrogate fathers,” he said.

Brown works tirelessly to keep his good times rolling.

Although “Good Eats” ended its run in 2012, he still appears on the Food Network, has written eight cookbooks, does a podcast and is releasing a CD of his songs this month.

He also does in-person promotional appearances, which led him to believe people would pay to see a stage show based on food.

In 2013, he launched his “Edible Inevitable Tour,” visiting 100 cities. And pre-Broadway, he‘s already performed “Eat Your Science” in 40 cities.

“I try to relax more, but I‘m a workaholic,” he said, stating the obvious. “I like to push boundaries, and there are so many things I want to do. I‘m 54, and sometimes I wonder, just how many more productive years do I have left?

“But I‘ve found that doing a live show is one of the things I enjoy most. Interacting with an audience, you‘re engaging in a symbiotic relationship, and they give you an energy you don‘t get any other way.”