Stephanie March

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 chicagobusiness.com.

Food Detectives host Ted Allen

Originally posted at Edible TV on August 19, 2008.

I guess it shows how much of a foodie geek I am that I waited with great anticipation for Food Network’s latest hit Food Detectives with Ted Allen. I was justly rewarded. Food Detectives is very entertaining and host Ted Allen is charming. He’s been a judge on every season of Top Chef (Bravo) and Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” But Ted first hit the small screen on the much beloved Queer Eye for Straight Guy.

Today Allen is an award winning food writer and cookbook author, he is the spokesman for Robert Mondavi Private Selection, and now the host of a hit TV show. According to Allen the ratings for Food Detectives have been great. In fact, the show’s popularity is growing so much that actually had their best ratings the same night the world tuned in to watch Michael Phelps make Olympic history.

Recently, I got to speak with Ted. What I had planned to be a professional interview turned into two foodies sharing tips and stories of culinary adventure. Here’s the interview part:

What has the journey from “Queer Eye” to “Food Detectives” been like?

Things have worked out so well. Queer Eye was a hit and ran for a hundred episodes. I’ve been on every season of Top Chef and Iron Chef: America. I’ve been able to maintain a presence doing something I’m passionate about.

How did the idea of Food Detectives come to fruition?

There have been a few similar shows, the most notable being Alton Brown’s show Good Eats and there was the Secret Life of. But we felt that food lore wasn’t being done. On Good Eats, what Alton does so well is he teaches the science. Alton instructs, we explore. We test the science.

When you judge on Iron Chef and the theme ingredient is revealed do you try to figure out what you would make if you were the challenger?

Of course. Definitely. I don’t think I would think of any of the stuff Morimoto comes up with. And I’m blown away by Michael Symon. Barry (Barry Rice, Allen’s partner and an accomplished interior designer) and I have eaten at both of his restaurants in Cleveland and really enjoyed them. All of them are just amazing Mario, Cat, Bobby Flay.

Speaking of Flay, Ted offered this anecdote:

We used to live across the street from Bobby and his wife, Stephanie March. Barry had recently finished redoing our kitchen when we ran into Bobby and Stephanie on the street. They were getting ready to redo theirs so we invited them up to have a look. At one point Barry says, “You two should come over for dinner.”

I’m thinking, “there’s no way I’m cooking dinner for Bobby Flay.”

One last question, how does one become a judge on Iron Chef?

(Laughter) Get to know the guy who chooses them.

Photo courtesy of about.com.

Flay Does it His Way – Interview with Chef Bobby Flay

Originally published in ‘Zalea Magazine in October, 2007.

Bobby FlayFew names in American culinary circles is as polarizing as Bobby Flay. His fans and critics alike can be numbered in legions. For every person who describes him as arrogant or cocky there are a dozen who call him brilliant. Few, however, can debate Flay’s influence on American cuisine. More than any other chef, Bobby Flay is responsible for taking Southwestern cuisine from the dessert resort and depositing it on the table of every American.


Flay’s path to success began as a high school drop out. A native born New Yorker, Bobby was bored with high school and decided it was time to enter the workforce. At the age of 17 he began working as a line cook at Theater District legend Joe Allen Restaurant. Allen was so impressed with the young man’s talent and drive that he picked up the tab himself to send Flay to the newly opened French Culinary Institute.

By age 19, Flay had a degree in Culinary Arts and was the executive chef at Miracle Grill in the East Village. It was there that Flay’s bold Southwestern Cuisine caught the attention of restaurateur extraordinaire Jerome Kretchmer. Flay and Kretchmer teamed to open Mesa Grill in 1991 and a year later were the owners of the coveted Best Restaurant Award given by New York Magazine’s Gael Greene. They have since opened five more acclaimed restaurants in four cities and in two countries.

Flay’s second eatery, Bolo, specializes in Spanish cuisine, a trend that he pioneered in America. Italian restaurant icon Mario Batali has since opened a Spanish restaurant as have Alex Ureña and Frederick Twomey. Flay says that, “Spain has been left off the culinary map in this country. It has been all bistros, French and Italian cuisines. We opened Bolo 13 years ago and people weren’t sure what to think of it at first. The food in Spain is very herbaceous with lots of salty, gutsy flavors.”

Dinner Conversation: 39 Interviews with America's Favorite Culinary Movers and ShakersIn 1993 Flay was named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the esteemed James Beard Foundation. It was the same year that he joined the original troupe for the launch of a new cable network devoted strictly to food. The Food Network debuted with shows hosted by Flay, Batali and network anchor Emeril Legasse. Asked how the industry has changed since the launch of the network Flay says, “The industry has changed tremendously, but food in America has changed even more. It has gotten Americans to open their minds to new ingredients and new cooking styles. People are doing less fast food and learning to cook at home again.”

The following year saw the publication of Flay’s award winning first cookbook, Bobby Flay’s Bold American Food (Warner Brothers, 1994). Six more best selling cookbooks have followed with the latest being Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors from the Southwestern Kitchen which was released on October 16th. According to Flay, “It has taken 17 years to put together. It is sort of a greatest hits of the items we have featured on our menu over the years. Some of the recipes will be featured in the shows I will be doing there (in Mobile, AL).”

In 2000 Flay did something no other Food Network chef had ever done – he escaped the “kicked up” shadow of Emeril Legasse to become a bona fide star in his own right. A Japanese television show had become all the rage on US shores; it was a cooking competition called Iron Chef. The Iron Chef team made a visit to New York City where Flay challenged Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto in Battle Rock Crab.

During the contest Flay complained of faulty kitchen equipment which many of his critics considered whining. As the last seconds ticked off the timer Flay leaped onto the counter to fire up the partisan crowd. This display did not sit well with the eventual winner, Morimoto who went on record saying that Flay, was “not a chef.” The animosity eventually led to a rematch in Japan in which Flay revamped his celebration and his cooking approach to defeat Morimoto on his own turf. Today the two men are friends and fellow Iron Chefs on the US version called Iron Chef America.

The Chef considers himself a “Texan by marriage,” but says the flavors of the Lone Star State were a part of his cooking prior to marrying Law & Order: SVU star Stephanie March, “I have been cooking Southwestern food since ’88. Blue corn and chilies have always been a part of my pantry so I have always thought of Texas. It is ironic that I am now married to a Texan.”

Though Flay’s style of cooking both personally and professionally is quite healthy he admits that he regularly enjoys ice cream. “I love to eat it, but I shouldn’t. I don’t eat a lot of junk food or fast food, so ice cream is my guilty pleasure.”

Bobby Flay speaking in Mobile, AL.

Bobby Flay speaking in Mobile, AL.

Chefs often come across new ingredients that demand exploration. It is through this investigation that new techniques and even food trends are introduced to American palettes. Chef Flay is no exception stating that right now his enthusiasm is devoted to, “spice rubs instead of marinades. They a do a better job of penetrating the food with flavor.”

Flay first visited our area a few years ago to do a profile on Matt Shipp (chef/owner of Justine’s at the Pillars) for a show called Food Nation. When asked if he planned on reuniting with Chef Matt on his visit to Mobile he said, “I haven’t talked with Matt in a while, but I am going to try and get by Justine’s.” He also expressed an interest in trying West Indies Salad, a Mobile delicacy.

In 1982 Bobby Flay was a high school drop out working as a line cook. Twenty-five years later he is the owner of six renowned restaurants, author of seven bestselling cookbooks, and an Emmy-winning television star. So what does the future hold for the fourth generation Irish-American?

On Saturday November 3, 2007 Chef Bobby Flay will make two appearances at the Mobile Civic Center. He will perform live cooking shows at 11:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range in price from $39.00 to $69.00. For more information you can contact the Mobile Civic Center at 251-208-7906 or Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

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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