It was the incident at Boy Scout camp that sealed forever the sense of culinary purpose that informs Ted Allen's life and work today. There he was, encamped with hundreds of boys in a Midwestern cornfield, hours from the nearest organic market, when some uncouth Tenderfoot left a can of cooking spray too close to the fire. The barbeque tragedy that ensued nearly took out Troop 199. Worse, the blast rendered Ted's exquisite Western Scramble completely inedible with rancid, oily fallout.
Thus the young Ted found a new, urgent challenge: share some culinary knowledge with his contemporaries before somebody gets killed, or at minimum, nauseated. Today, he combs the world with his longtime partner, Barry Rice, in their never-ending quest for the perfect roast chicken.
A Chicago native, Ted has been a contributing editor to Esquire magazine where he is co-author of the "Things a Man Should Know" column-an irreverent guide for men on such items as fashion, sex, business etiquette, and cocktails, and co-authored four books that grew out of that series. Before joining Esquire Ted was a senior editor and restaurant critic with Chicago magazine where he wrote stories for the dining department. He has interviewed such food luminaries as Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, Paul Bocuse, Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Gale Gand, and Rick Bayless.
1. Describe your ideal vacation — location and activities.
Italy; one week in fabulous cities — Rome, Florence, say — and one week hanging out with friends in a Tuscan villa, eating amazing food.
2. What type of workout keeps you in shape?
Give me a minute to stop laughing. Okay, thanks: running.
3. What's your favorite "guilty pleasure?"
I don't feel guilty about pleasures. That's my problem.
4. What is your all-time favorite book?
"Green Eggs & Ham."
5. What celebrity do you think has an amazing sense of style?
6. Which celebrity would you most like to makeover, and why?
Jerry Falwell, because he's as tragic stylistically as he is politically.
7. What is the worst style faux pas a person can commit?
Trying too hard.
8. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Questionnaires. Also, rudeness. Also, people who drive in the passing lane.
9. What's your favorite place to be seen on a Saturday night?
I can't imagine picking a place to go so that people would see you. Do people do that?
10. Who is your role model or personal inspiration?