Ted Allen is a familiar face to food enthusiasts worldwide, as the host of Chopped. But there’s much more to this award-winning author, television personality, and culinary expert. From his early days as a journalist to his current role as a beloved food personality, Ted has a fascinating career and life. Here are 10 things you might not know about one of our favourite Food Network Canada stars.
From page to screen
Before making his TV debut as the food and wine specialist on the original, Emmy-winning Queer Eye series, Ted earned an M.A. in journalism from New York University and was a journalist and restaurant critic. He was a senior editor at Chicago Magazine and was even a finalist for a National Magazine Award for the Esquire feature he penned about male breast cancer.
A historic home
Ted and his husband, interior designer Barry Rice, live in an 1870 Victorian brownstone in Brooklyn that they renovated themselves. They installed a modern kitchen with stainless steel countertops and appliances but kept much of the home’s unique features, including ornate banisters, pocket shutters and rich wooden floors.
Passing the torch
Did you know that Antoni Porowski, current Queer Eye food and wine expert – and one of our favourite Canadians – was once Ted Allen and Barry Rice’s assistant? They lived in the same New York neighbourhood at the time, and Ted encouraged Antoni to take cooking more seriously while also pursuing a TV career. Antoni would cook for Ted and Barry, and help them with events and catering in their home. When the Queer Eye reboot was announced, Ted recommended Antoni.
Let’s go shopping
While many people find grocery shopping to be a chore, Ted embraces it with gusto. He thinks the experience is inspiring and admits that he shops more like a Parisian, putting on a backpack and walking to several different shops instead of only one spot.
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Ted loves gardening and has a small garden on the rooftop of his Brooklyn home. He loves fresh, ripe, late summer tomatoes, and grows them himself in herb boxes with a simple irrigation system. In fact, he’s shared that he never buys tomatoes except when they’re in season.
Is Ted Allen a chef? No, but he played one in the 2020 Disney animated reboot of The Rocketeer. He lends his voice to the Cast-Iron Chef, a villainous food truck chef who will stop at nothing to find secret recipes that will boost his business. The character also has a high-tech gauntlet that allows him to use an array of kitchen tools.
Move over, Steven Tyler! Ted’s passion for music started in junior high, and he wanted to be the lead singer of Aerosmith. To this day, he’d still be happy to step into those tight, animal-print pants! He did live out the rock star fantasy when he was the drummer in a couple of college bands while studying at Purdue University. Ted also has a guitar and plays piano, although he admits he’s not too great at it.
He’s a music fan
It makes sense that someone with rock and roll dreams would also be a music fan and collector. A self-professed “music nerd,” he loves classics like Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. He’s also a big fan of The New Pornographers, and the band even played an afterparty at Ted and Barry’s home following a concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
Causes that are near and dear
Ted is known for giving back in a big way. He serves as a spokesperson for Dining Out for Life, a fundraiser where restaurants across the United States donate a portion of their proceeds to HIV/AIDS service groups. He’s also a supporter of Chef José Andrés’ renowned World Central Kitchen, the Food Bank for New York City, and serves on the Food Council for City Harvest, which gives unused food from New York restaurants and to families in need.
According to Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli, Ted can memorize a page of script in three minutes. His hosting skills don’t end there, either. Guaranaschelli also shared that he’s excellent at ad-libbing.