Ted Allen – the Thinking Man’s Foodie

September 2, 2008 at 8:11 am 7 comments

Originally posted at Paper Palate on August 19, 2008.


Though some of Ted Allen’s fans may remember him from his days as the restaurant critic for Chicago magazine, most of us know him from stints on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Iron Chef: America, and Food Detectives. But Allen has been a nationally respected food and wine expert since joining the editorial staff of Esquire magazine eleven years ago.

Ted studied psychology at Purdue University, where he received a B.A. He also has an M.A. in journalism from New York University, as well as an advanced certificate from NYU’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program.  His 2000 Esquire article “This Man Survived Breast Cancer” was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the magazine equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. 

Allen’s culinary talents and literary acumen have never been better emulsified than in his 2005 Clarkson Potter book The Food You Want to Eat: From Créme Brulee to Cocktails: Delicious Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday.  In The Food You Want to Eat, Ted rethinks calssic recipes like Old School Caesar Salad and Mustardy Barbecued Spareribs. One must-try among the 100+ recipes is the Pan-Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette and Thai Green Chicken Curry with Vegetables. 

Allen’s book has a number of fans, too: check out some of the star-studded reviews: 

The Food You Want to Eat is the book you need to own. Ted Allen is your personal guide to easy entertaining, from thirst-quenching cocktails to classic desserts with a twist, and everything in between.” —Bobby Flay

The Food You Want to Eat is a great first cookbook for anyone and everyone. Ted knows his stuff—which are the best ingredients and what are the smartest, simplest, and tastiest ways to prepare them. More important is his friendliness—he demystifies the daunting mysteries of good cooking, wine pairing and fine dining.”  —Sara Moulton

“When I first picked up Ted’s book, I thought, ‘Ha! How can this man possibly know what I want to eat?’ Then I read it … OK, so he does know what I want to eat, but I bet he can’t make it the way I like it. Then I cooked from the book and … OK, somehow he does know. Accessible, tasty, educational and effortlessly elegant (think Carey Grant), this is the kind of kitchen guide you’ll want to give to all your friends. Just never lend out your own copy.” —Alton Brown

Ted recently answered a few questions for Paper Palate:

Paper Palate: You have worked in both Chicago and New York – how do the restaurant scenes differ?

Ted Allen: New York is the big stage, the biggest stage in America for a chef.  It is a tough market to succeed in because of the competition.  Chicago has a lot of important restaurants and the national press is finally catching on.

PP: What currently has your attention, culinarily speaking?

TA: Barry (Barry Rice, Ted’s Partner) and I have been really getting into the food at this Senegalese restaurant nearby.  I can’t think of the name, but it is very exciting. 

PP: You are a renowned food and wine expert, your partner is an accomplished interior designer, and your list of associates includes Padma Lakshmi, Alton Brown, and Carson Kressley – what are your dinner parties like?

TA: Very casual.  We do lots of braises, roasts, and BBQ.  I try to do as much advance work as I can so I can have fun.  Our guests are usually nice, diverse, crazy, funny, and quirky.

PP: Do you have another book on the way?

TA: I just had a meeting this morning to discuss some future projects.  I have a few irons in the fire.


Photo courtesy of chicagobusiness.com.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."


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