Sara Moulton

Ted Allen – the Thinking Man’s Foodie

Originally posted at Paper Palate on August 19, 2008.

Ted AllenThough 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

New Cheflebrity Marcela Valladolid

Though Bobby Flay remains ever in the spotlight at the Food Network the other two founding chefleberities, Mario Batali and Emeril Legasse have been pushed to the background.  It could simply be about ratings.  Just as likely it has to do with the rumored dissatisfaction many chefs now have with the network’s Disneyesque image.  The execs at Chelsae Market try to weave a squeaky clean web around their stars but the reality is that chefs, by nature, are lustful rogues.  Bourdain is the norm, Sara Moulton is the deviant.

For years now the Food Network has been under fire for programming that is personality-driven rather than chef-driven, fluff rather than serious cooking shows (I know, oxymoron).  Parent company Scripps has plans to address the network’s desire to retain its core audience while building a new one, namely reinventing the Fine Living Network as the Cooking Channel.  In the meantime Food Network has compromised by returning to the formula that built that core audience – chefs who have personality.

Enter Marcela Valladolid.

She has the personality pedigree.  Valladolid was a member of the cast of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart back in 2005 where she finished fourth.  She also bares an uncanny resemblance to cover girl Kristin Kreuk the starlet famous for playing Clark Kent’s high school sweetheart Lana Lang on Smallville.  And of course she has the mandatory celebrity Twitter presence.

Chef Marcela has the chops as well.  She matriculated at both the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris where she graduated as a pastry chef.  She appeared on the Food Network 12 years ago on the old “In Food Today” with David Rosengarten.  Since then she has worked as an editor at Bon Appetit Magazine, run a catering company, hosted a cooking show for Discovery en Espanol and last summer she published her first cookbook, Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor (Clarkson Potter).

But before all of the hoi polloi of Reality TV and big time publishing, Valladolid learned to cook as a child.  Her father was a respected chef in Mexico and her aunt opened one of the first cooking schools in Tijuana.  It is that authentic Mexican food of her childhood that she is prepared to teach on her new Food Network show Mexican Made EasyMME is directed at the busy mom who wants to put out fast, healthy food with a Latin flair.  It premieres Saturday January 23 at 9:30am ET/PT.  As proof of her dedication to the true flavors of Mexico she proclaims, “there is no yellow cheese in real Mexican cooking.”


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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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