Alton Brown went on an Amtrak Rant ...

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Qapla

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Alton Brown has been doing a live YouTube stream show since Covid-19 caused people to stay at home he calls Quarantine Quitchen on Tuesday nights.

On tonight's show he went on a rant. It started with people not wearing masks and him saying how he doesn't plan on eating in restaurants, going to the theater/movies or traveling on an airplane for the rest of the year. This gave way to him blasting air travel and jumping on his soap box in favor of Amtrak. He described several of the things he likes about train travel and then started talking about how wrong Amtrak is for cutting services right now. He also spoke in favor of High Speed Rail and how much it is needed in the US.

Who knows ... maybe if more "prominent" people spoke up it could have some sort of impact.
 

20th Century Rider

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Alton Brown has been doing a live YouTube stream show since Covid-19 caused people to stay at home he calls Quarantine Quitchen on Tuesday nights.

On tonight's show he went on a rant. It started with people not wearing masks and him saying how he doesn't plan on eating in restaurants, going to the theater/movies or traveling on an airplane for the rest of the year. This gave way to him blasting air travel and jumping on his soap box in favor of Amtrak. He described several of the things he likes about train travel and then started talking about how wrong Amtrak is for cutting services right now. He also spoke in favor of High Speed Rail and how much it is needed in the US.

Who knows ... maybe if more "prominent" people spoke up it could have some sort of impact.
Alton Brown is a well known chef... of course he's unfavorable towards the tasteless 'flex flop' meals! We're all trying to understand the justification of the 'flex flop' idea and perhaps a few celebrity chefs may bring some energy to change Amtrak's culinary way of thinking! Flex flop meals are a fiercely fumbled flop; is there actually anyone who would flip this fumbled fable to a more favorable way??? Unfortunately I believe it would take a real fantasy to actually flip out these futile flex fumblers. :eek:

This is all good... just a little alliteration advocacy for more favorable and fabulous non flex food!!! Hmmm... this is making me very hungry for a real meal!
 

trainman74

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Alton Brown; Prominent? Never heard of him until this post.
He had a long-running show on Food Network called "Good Eats," and has parlayed that into a few other TV and web series, as well as best-selling cookbooks. He's definitely one of the most famous "celebrity chefs" out there due to his TV fame -- but if you don't pay any attention to people who cook on TV, I can see how you might not have heard of him.
 

Palmland

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My wife and I enjoy his TV shows. Gotta like a cook with a real sense of humor. Would love to see what would happen if Amtrak gave him mandate to come up with a quality, appetizing, and healthy menu but within a budget and constraints of a mobile and poorly staffed kitchen with limited commissaries.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Alton Brown; Prominent? Never heard of him until this post.
Do yourself a favor and watch some reruns of Good Eats - Alton was more than just the host, he produced the show himself. Really fun and educational in a super quirky way.

CookingChannel.com has his episodes available for free.

He doesn’t have a chain of restaurants like Emeril and Bobby Flay but he’s definitely a known personality in the cooking world. I would argue that he would be better for Amtrak than the Emeril’s since he would understand the confines of Amtrak and pick foods that would do well prepared with the limited staff and resources Amtrak would have available.
 

the_traveler

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I see he started again recently with a show called “Good Eats - Reworked” or “- Revisited” or something like that.
 

Manny T

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Watched him all the time. He's great!

What if he volunteered to take a look at Amtrak's food problems and make suggestions............?

Alton, are you listening???
 

20th Century Rider

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My wife and I enjoy his TV shows. Gotta like a cook with a real sense of humor. Would love to see what would happen if Amtrak gave him mandate to come up with a quality, appetizing, and healthy menu but within a budget and constraints of a mobile and poorly staffed kitchen with limited commissaries.
Wow! Really like your idea! Alton Brown is well known and would create a lot of new ridership interest in Amtrak... he may even volunteer his services to continue to build his own fame given this national platform.

That said, the critical issue remains money... because in few countries do rail systems sustain themselves without government support. Yet, still... your idea is important... now all we need is positive forward thinking management to pull it all together. Don't forget the need for national leadership that would support Amtrak rather than cutting federal funding by 50% - !!! The upcoming election could make a big difference... ;)
 

crescent-zephyr

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I see he started again recently with a show called “Good Eats - Reworked” or “- Revisited” or something like that.
Yes! “Good Eats Reloaded” - the first season is also free on cookingchannel.com, the second season is currently being released.

He’s also working on new “Good Eats” episodes.

It’s really sad that I know all this.... but what else do I have to do during quarantine! Lol
 

leemell

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He was a judge and guide on Worst Cooks last season. I loved it, he was nearly apoplectic at some points and dropped ascerbic comments and very pointed remarks all the time.
 

Dakota 400

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He had a long-running show on Food Network called "Good Eats," and has parlayed that into a few other TV and web series, as well as best-selling cookbooks. He's definitely one of the most famous "celebrity chefs" out there due to his TV fame -- but if you don't pay any attention to people who cook on TV, I can see how you might not have heard of him.
I don't have any interest in watching celebrity chefs on TV. It's interesting to think that others that have responded to this thread think that he is "prominent" enough to have some type of influence on Amtrak.
 

20th Century Rider

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I don't have any interest in watching celebrity chefs on TV. It's interesting to think that others that have responded to this thread think that he is "prominent" enough to have some type of influence on Amtrak.
But wait! This strand is not about any actual chef having any kind of influence on Amtrak. Well healed travelers who have enjoyed delicious meals as they are speedily journeying by plane or train... including Amtrak [in the past]... have opened up their menus to see references to scores of 'famous chefs and wine experts' extolling the virtues of meals to be served. It's just part of a 'game' to make dining more fun and to bring in unique tasting experiences that come from 'food experts.' The culinary experience becomes more than just a meal... bringing in new and interesting regional and cultural perspectives. Nothing wrong with having a little fun and enjoyment with a meal being served as one races along towards whatever destination. As always, getting there is the best fun.

Getting back to Amtrak stoic, basic, drab, and depressing 'flex food product' this is the absolute opposite of enjoying the journey! And perhaps that is the point of this discussion. !!! !!! !!! 😊
 

20th Century Rider

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But wait! This strand is not about any actual chef having any kind of influence on Amtrak. Well healed travelers who have enjoyed delicious meals as they are speedily journeying by plane or train... including Amtrak [in the past]... have opened up their menus to see references to scores of 'famous chefs and wine experts' extolling the virtues of meals to be served. It's just part of a 'game' to make dining more fun and to bring in unique tasting experiences that come from 'food experts.' The culinary experience becomes more than just a meal... bringing in new and interesting regional and cultural perspectives. Nothing wrong with having a little fun and enjoyment with a meal being served as one races along towards whatever destination. As always, getting there is the best fun.

Getting back to Amtrak stoic, basic, drab, and depressing 'flex food product' this is the absolute opposite of enjoying the journey! And perhaps that is the point of this discussion. !!! !!! !!! 😊
Guess I'm replying to myself at this point to stop sulking about the flex food stuff... on this warm summer evening it's time to go to the icebox and have some ice cream! Yes, do it! Enjoy! 😇
Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 7.08.49 PM.png
 

Qapla

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Well, since AB has well nearly 700,000 subscribers who tune in to see his live streams every week .... he may not have any direct impact on Amtrak management but, he did make quite a number of people aware of the idiocy that Amtrak has planned -
 

Manny T

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Basic question -- is Amtrak in the transportation business, the hospitality business, or both?

If both, then trends in the hospitality industry, and trend-makers, like celebrity chefs with large followings and public platforms, are relevant.

Until this is recognized, then Amtrak will continue to fling reheated TV-dinners at passengers and call it "dining."
 

20th Century Rider

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Basic question -- is Amtrak in the transportation business, the hospitality business, or both?

If both, then trends in the hospitality industry, and trend-makers, like celebrity chefs with large followings and public platforms, are relevant.

Until this is recognized, then Amtrak will continue to fling reheated TV-dinners at passengers and call it "dining."
A more relevant answer may be that both air and rail transportation cater to clientele willing to pay a little more to have a better experience... i.e. check out airline 1st class menus [and they all incorporate renown chefs and wine experts to heighten the experience making it more fun and interesting.] If a transportation entity is to offer different levels of service, then it would be expected that higher fares are justified.

That said, some transit modes such as urban rapid rail are solely in the transportation business; patrons are not en route for a long enough period of time to justify differentiated service levels.
 

20th Century Rider

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Here's a recent Amtrak menu which included... at the time... Amtrak's Culinary Advisory Team. The menu included 'inspired dishes' but this was downgraded to a standard national menu for all trains. People complained... until the menu was further downgraded to tiny tasteless 'contemporary flex meals.' Many are now saying that food will eventually be eliminated from LD service with all passengers purchasing food from the cafe car. Undoubtedly people will bring their own food.

[However, one should not expect sleeper fares to go down.] Ug! :confused:
1California Zephyr Menu.png
 

crescent-zephyr

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Basic question -- is Amtrak in the transportation business, the hospitality business, or both?
Transportation business. But with that comes a need to provide basic hospitality. You don’t have to have the luxury of reclining seats do you?

The current food offerings are not in line with what anyone would expect for the price. I don’t think domestic first class is too high of a bar to set. Amtrak was able to provide that on the Acela First class... so that should be the minnimum. Those are better menu options and much better presentation that includes metal flatware, glassware, ceramic plates, etc. - just like domestic first class.
 

Devil's Advocate

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My wife and I enjoy his TV shows. Gotta like a cook with a real sense of humor. Would love to see what would happen if Amtrak gave him mandate to come up with a quality, appetizing, and healthy menu but within a budget and constraints of a mobile and poorly staffed kitchen with limited commissaries.
That actually happened several years ago. Not with Alton Brown but with a team of other cooks who were brought in to analyze Amtrak's options and design new meals that would better handle the cooking, freezing, and reheating process. This is common in the airline business but relatively rare in the passenger train business. When I first heard about it I thought it was a joke, and for many years it was limited to niche deployments such as first class on the Acela, but eventually these recommendations made it to the long haul diners as well. The flavor and texture were honestly pretty good, and this admission comes from one of Amtrak's biggest dining detractors. My only complaint at the time was that the Chef Inspired meals were limited in number and frequency. Back then there were only a couple options per route and they were only replaced a few times per year. Boy do I wish we could go back to those days!
 
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20th Century Rider

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Transportation business. But with that comes a need to provide basic hospitality. You don’t have to have the luxury of reclining seats do you?

The current food offerings are not in line with what anyone would expect for the price. I don’t think domestic first class is too high of a bar to set. Amtrak was able to provide that on the Acela First class... so that should be the minnimum. Those are better menu options and much better presentation that includes metal flatware, glassware, ceramic plates, etc. - just like domestic first class.
Both air and rail transportation cater to clientele willing to pay a little more to have a better experience... i.e. check out airline 1st class menus [and they all incorporate renown chefs and wine experts to heighten the experience making it more fun and interesting.] If a transportation entity is to offer different levels of service, then it would be expected that higher fares are justified.

There is absolutely no justification for the service levels now to be endured on Amtrak First Class sleeper accommodations. Management is either incompetent or out of touch with reality. I was very happy with the Acela first class service several months ago... sat down to a gin and tonic... and was repeatedly asked if there was anything else they could get. The meal was rich, tasty, satisfying, and made me feel like an honored guest. Note the pic below... since I didn't photo my own I got this off google images... but do know that immaculate starched napkin is wrapped around some of Amtrak's finest cutlery.

Service levels have certainly 'derailed!'😡
9226d06a8cf714bc4d38da6e909e91d1.jpg
 
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