Alton Brown was in town this weekend for the release of his third Good Eats cookbook (the last one, as the Food Network standard ends this fall) as well as for the New York City Wine and Food Festival. We caught up with him at the Fest, where he was wearing his Welch's spokesman hat and pushing the juice brand and their new Zagat Harvest guide hard. Seriously, if there is an award for spokespeople somebody needs to give it to Brown. Man was able to turn nearly every topic he touched back to the juice company. It helped that he had Welch's Health and Nutrition lead Casey Lewis sitting by his side.

Still, in between pitches we were able to get him to talk about the end of Good Eats, why he needed to write a "fanifesto," how hard it is to predict winners on Iron Chef, and why chefs really shouldn't bother trying to talk him up when he eats in their restaurants. Also, the time that Twitter begged him to come back to their loving embrace.

So, you've got a new book coming out and you're finishing up the series! We wrapped it up about two and a half weeks ago.

So, that's the end of the brand? That is the end of Good Eats. I've taken it out to pasture and let it go.

No plans to revisit in a few years?, because that would presuppose failure on new things. I'd have to go running home. So, no.

Looking back, do you have any favorite moments from all of this? 250 episodes, right? 252...point 3...or something like that. Nah, they were all good. When you produce a show, every show is perfect and every show is horrible, at the same time. Everything's is flawed, everything's good. I will say that my favorite ones were usually the ones that had my daughter in them. My daughter was in about 13 episodes with me, in various roles, and those were always a lot of fun because she's a real smack-talking little chick. She likes to criticize me in front of the crew and that's always fun. [Points to the Welch's/Zagat guide] This is good, by the way, I like that picture in there. We [Brown and the Welch's team] hadn't talked about it because I hadn't seen the final copy of it, it's pretty good stuff.

Yup, we'll get to the book in just a second... Oh we'll make sure of it! Or else I'll spill this juice in your lap! I'm going to just move [the juice] closer to your recorder and if you don't get to it we'll just...

I'm curious because right before you left for this tour you wrote a "Fanifesto" on your website. What inspired writing that? I've got a 20 city book tour starting up and over the years just...there have been trends that needed to be addressed. I was speaking for my entire culture.

People responded well to it? Some people hate it!

Really? So to those people I say, "Don't come."

Huh, it seems pretty generally friendly! It's reasonable. It's nice. It's more for them than it is for me, actually. When you have 500 people show up at a book signing, having some rules laid out makes it a little easier.

Are you going to be handing out copies at the actual book signings? No, but I told people if they didn't understand any of it they could print it out and bring it and we could discuss it.

Did anyone ask you anything about it at your signing at Union Square [on Friday]? Nope, not yet. But most people are bringing real cameras instead of camera phones so that's nice. That speeds things up immeasurably.

So even iPhones are a problem? iPhones are the least of the problem, but you can't discriminate. Because if you say, "Okay, iPhones are great but Blackberry's really suck" then you're all of a sudden in a new can of worms.

Gotcha. So, Welch's. Yes! Full of antioxident power. The one, true American fruit, by the way. Did you know that?

The concord grape? Doesn't grow anywhere else! It's from here and of here. And what makes Welch's so great is that you can't get concord grapes because it's one grape that is not picked to ship—like so much American produce, which is actually monkeyed with for shipping in and for the needs of shipping, not flavor. And the nice thing about concord grapes is that when they're really, really ripe you can't ship 'em. They explode! You touch them and they blow up. So really the best way, unless you can get to a vineyard and consume them right off of the vines—we used to shoot the commercials during harvest until they decided they got tired of me eating half the grapes off the vines—is to pick them and put them in this juice. These folks pick the grapes when they're absolutely, scientifically at their peak. And then they press them within eight hours. They've got to be! If they can't be pressed within eight hours of coming off the vine, they don't get to be Welch's! Because after eight hours you start getting degredation.

What do they become if they don't get to be Welch's?Welch's Nutrition Lead Casey Lewis: Basically we only bring in the grapes that meet our high standards and the BRIX standards. So it's a sugar standard and they have to be brought in within that time period so that we have that fresh, peak flavor that we're known for.

Alton Brown: I don't think there are many that don't make it because every farmer that I've talked to, in every state that I've been to in working on this project, are all like, "We will have those grapes there in that amount of time." Everything they do is set up for that because it's just too much labor, it's too much waste, to not. There's no secondary market, there's no B grade, "Oh, well, I'll just send them to Mexico." There's none of that.

Plus, the farmers own the company. That's one of the reasons I went to work with them because it's a co-op, I like co-ops. You're not working for a conglomerate, you're just working for a bunch of guys.

Is it okay for you to be the spokesman that replaced all those sweet little children, though? For years and years it was always those "smacking lips" kids. Yeah, but you know, a lot of people don't like cute little children. A lot of people are put off by that and they're very bad at delivering information. And you kind of get sick of cute after a while.

Casey Lewis: We still have a few little kids.

Alton Brown: The first couple of years it was just me and then the cute little kids started to creep back in. It's okay, I tolerate some degree...

So this Welch's/Zagat harvest guide comes right before the big annual Zagat/Michelin war starts in New York. Do you use any of these when you travel? Either of those guides? You know, I don't. When it comes to "high cuisine" I don't tend to follow guides very often.

Well you've got a few connections to the industry, too. I know. Well, you know what, I'm not going to be swayed by that or wow'ed by that. To me,'s more about a sense of place, not a sense of who says it's good or who says it's bad. I don't tend to pay a lot of attention to them. I'm actually going on book tour, and I'm going to be eating off this [holds up the Welch's/Zagat guide] as much as I can on this 20 city tour. I'm going to use that because I know what the manifest was for that and I know what the mission is for this. Otherwise, it's all over my head.

You've been hosting Iron Chef America for a few years now. Have you been able to predict who's going to win? Never. Never. I have tried and I've got the worst record. I will always jot down, about midway through a battle, where I think it's going to go and I only have about a 20% success rate. You just never know! Let's put it this way: what happens at the table, when a chef is telling their story, changes everything about the meal. That's the important part. Guys like Mario Batali are so good at that. At the table they can change everything about the meal as they talk it. So you just can't know as you're watching. You think you see someone crashing and burning and then they walk up to that table and they take it. So it's always kind of a thrill to watch how that unfolds.

When you go out to eat do people, chefs, ever come out and try to tell the story of their dishes to you? Yeah, probably about 30% of the time they do that. Sometimes I can tell they're auditioning. And I'm like, "Dude, I don't pick the don't have to do that. Let's just have dinner."

And how was filming the fourth season of The Next Iron Chef? That starts later in October. The best so far by a long shot. The most fun to make and watch, for me at least. It's very intense.

Can you give any interesting tidbits? Things will happen that you will not expect.

I was struck by the fact that some Top Chef people seem to be on this season. I feel like there haven't been any before? That's because most of the really, really big dogs have a lot to lose and very often say no because of that. These people all manned up and went for it.

So you don't live in New York. I do not.

But it sounds like you're here regularly. I know my way around here better than I do Atlanta, where I live. I get lost in Atlanta and here I can get around.

As a New York blog I kind of have to ask: Are there restaurants here that you particularly like? There are no bad restaurants in New York. Because bad restaurants are...

There are definitely bad restaurants in New York! Well, I never seem to find them! I also get taken to good restaurants in New York. I'm just amazed that there is as much good food as there is here. Sometimes I just go to the green market, especially this time of year, and just graze and take stuff back to the hotel and eat it. I'm serious! You guys are so fortunate to have this much great produce, local produce.

We definitely do, though Hurricane Irene has definitely affected some of it. [To Casey] What was the effect of the hurricane on the harvest this year? What's it like so far?

Casey Lewis: It's been a solid harvest so far.

Alton Brown: Every year, talking to these guys when I do these commercials, it's "Weather. Weather. Weather. Weather. Weather." 'It was three degrees colder last night than it was supposed to be in the almanac' and they're all frettin' and touching their grapes and thinking about how the temperature changes things.

Though Concords are pretty hearty, no? It's a thick-skinned grape, right? Right. It's dark purple, so that's really where all the vital nutrients are, which protects the grape and also provides the benefits to humans as well. We've done a lot of research on these particular grapes and grape juice. Because of the polyphenols, we believe that's why they have the health benefits. You're hip to polyphenols, right?

...No. Casey Lewis: Plant nutrients.

Alton Brown: [whispering] Tell him, tell him, tell him...I love it when she does this. Go ahead, tell him, come on!

Casey Lewis: So, plant nutrients in concord grapes are very similar to those found in red wine and they're called polyphenols. We've been doing research for about 15 years on the heart health benefits of concord grapes and those polyphenols are the reason why we believe that grapes have heart health benefits.

Alton Brown: Which is part of the whole Mediterranean thing, if you know. Drinking red wine. The chemicals are the same. The issues of fermentation and alcohol production doesn't change any of the phytochemicals. But if you want alcohol in your grape juice, gin is probably the best.

Any particular brand of gin? To go very well into Welch's? Oddly enough it's an American gin, made in Wisconsin. "Death's Door." I like Death's Door in Welch's, which seems like a funny thing. Heart healthy...Death's door! It's just a name.

In terms of other fall harvest foods—do you have other things you like to eat in the fall? Pumpkins...Most Americans think of pumpkins as these big things that we carve at Halloween. But that's a very specific type of pumpkin, which makes up the bulk of the harvest. There's another 30 varieties of small, baking pumpkins, or what we call pie pumpkins, which have a very high level of natural sugars and are also very high in caretenoids, those orange colors that are also really good for us. So I'm a huge fan, once the harvest starts, as getting as many pumpkins as I can get my hands on. I love 'em.

This year, the one crop that has been really affected by Irene, was the pumpkin crop in the North East. Any suggestions for alternatives? Any of the hard squashes. The other hard squashes aren't quite as vulnerable to that plumping that comes from too much rain.

They also got washed away. They did! They are literally sitting on the ground and they rot when they get too much rain. There are a lot of leafy greens coming in at this time.

Do you pay attention to food blogs? Some blogs, yeah. Like Serious Eats here in town. But then, I know them. I have a tendency to be kind of a harsh critic of blogs because a lot of blogs are being written by people who aren't being paid to write blogs and therefore don't have any professional accountability for what they say. But several are slowly becoming more and more true journalistic expressions so...yeah. Starting to.

But no real interest in the restaurant gossip sites? You know what, I don't live in that world. I run a video production company and I write food books. I don't own a restaurant, don't want to own a restaurant, so I don't run in that.

Still, you deal with these chefs for Iron Chef American and The Next Iron Chef. I don't know their stuff. Yeah, I'll know that somebody is a chef here or chef here but because I don't live in New York, so I don't have access to certain pages and certain periodicals, I don't know a lot of the stuff that's going on that's gossipy-worthy. I'm just kind of living in ignorance, which is just fine with me!

You're a lucky man! Yeah, I think I probably am!

Do you have any interesting in projects coming up with the end of Good Eats? I do! We've got a couple of new television programs coming up, one that's going to deal with the anthropological side of food and food history. Then we're also starting to produce video-enhanced ebooks, which are going to replace my print projects. This may be the last paper book I write.

It is a big one! Yeah, once you pass the four pound line it's like, "Golly!" It costs so much just to ship the gosh darn thing that it becomes problematic. Do you want me to sign that one for you? It will be worth more on eBay! [Signing book] To Garth: Eat more grapes.

I hope Welch's is paying you a lot of good money to do this! You know, here's the funny thing. I very, very rarely do endorsements.

Just this and G.E., right? I haven't done G.E. for years and years. I had a specific project that I went through with them and did with them. The only other one I work with is Cargill, for Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. But the thing about the Welch's is that I've always drank the stuff and I've always really liked this stuff so when the opportunity to work with them came up I was like, "Yeah!" Because I was already a fan. I won't take endorsements for stuff I'm not already a fan of. Because you know why? In the end, you're just making crap up. Whereas if you're really a fan you've got a real investment there.

One more internet question: You were on Twitter, and then you were off Twitter, and now you're back on Twitter. I am! The Twitter people called me up and they were like, "Pleeeease?

They actually called you up? Well, they called my agent. They said...apparently I was popular, so they said, "We'll make sure people don't..." It was only because someone was pretending to be my wife that I quit in the first place. And I thought, out of respect for my wife, that was just not okay. So I left and said, that's it, you people are losers. But then I came back and actually it's fine. I'm not a big social person.

You're not on Facebook? I am now. As of two weeks ago I'm on Facebook. And you know why? Because it's very difficult to run a book tour without that outreach to people. I'm on Google+ as well, though I can't figure out how to use it. But Twitter is just so easy, it's ridiculously easy. And it's kind of fun!