Tuesday, July 29
Ted is also a favorite on the popular food competition series Iron Chef America (Food Network) and Top Chef (Bravo), having increased his appearances on both shows in every season on both shows.
But Ted's new Food Network show, Food Detectives, puts Ted in the hosting chair on this non-competition based show that tests out the most puzzling food mysteries and explains the history behind interesting foods.
I spoke with Ted yesterday by phone. Being from Illinois and having spent a great deal of time stranded at Chicago's airports, it seemed fitting that Ted—also a onetime Chicago resident—was stuck in Chicago due to weather.
Food Network Addict: Part of doing this blog involves reading every article out there about everyone on Food Network, so I already know what your show is all about… so, I’m going to try and ask you some different questions that you haven’t heard a hundred times already.
Ted Allen: Okay
For one, did you know TedAllen.com goes to a babysitting website?
There’s a funny story about that. The man who owns TedAllen.com bought that website for his young son Teddy. Two year olds don’t need websites. When my book came out, the publisher accidentally put TedAllen.com in the book jacket, so I tried being nice and sending the site’s owner an email explaining the accident with the book and offering to buy the website. That didn’t work. Then, I sent him an autographed copy of my book. He still owns the .com. If you Google me, you can find my website (TedAllen.net).
For the less informed readers out there, can you tell me a little about your show Food Detectives?
I explore food myths and food legends to find out the truth behind them. My cast of “henchmen” from Popular Science--that we call the Food Techs--help me test them out. For example, to figure out what really cools your mouth off after eating spicy food, I’ll make my henchmen eat a bunch of hot habanero salsa and try a bunch of different things to see which one really cools their mouth down.
You've been in talks with Food Network for a few years about finding a show. How did this one come about?
I didn’t really want to do a cooking show, since there are already a number of great ones out there. I’d prefer to watch Barefoot Contessa than try and make a better one... and I probably wouldn't. I’ve wanted to do a show that had humor and involved pop culture.
I caught a bit of the show's sneak peek Sunday night. Were you able to watch?
Well, the good thing about being stranded in Chicago and having lived here is that I still have a lot of friends in the area, so we all got together and watched it. It was my first time seeing it in HD, which is always terrifying. My makeup artist is wonderful, though.
Any Chicago food myths you’ll be tackling?
I think the first thing you think of when you say "food" and "Chicago" is deep dish pizza. I suppose the myth would be is deep dish any good. I tend to prefer crispy crust.
A lot of us have been stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. What about the myth that it’s impossible to get a decent meal in an airport?
Wolfgang Puck actually has a number of restaurants in airports [including O'Hare]. It’s not like you’re sitting at Spago, but if he owns the place you know the food is going to be good.
There’s also an “interactive” element to Food Detectives in which viewers are able to upload videos with their own food questions and myths. Any of those get tested out yet?
We have shot several, actually. One was about whether celery actually has negative calories. Another guy wanted to know why his ice is always cloudy. It turns out, it’s incredibly hard to get crystal clear ice… and not worth it. [You have to use distilled water and boil it twice.]
Some of the myths you tackle can get kind of, umm, gross… for lack of a better word. Think you’d ever get your Queer Eye costars like Carson or Jai to eat garlic for days or gorge on beans just to experiment on them?
Carson was actually fine getting into gross situations, so probably.
You’re a very busy guy—doing this show plus episodes of Iron Chef and Top Chef, plus you do a lot of events for Robert Mondavi and food festivals around the nation and write for Esquire and other publications. How will you fit it all in if Food Detectives takes off?
I’ve wanted to find a show of my own for a while, so [Food Detectives] is what I'm focusing on now, as much as I love judging the other shows. We'll just have to see how the production schedules look when the time comes.
Unlike judging a reality show, I actually have to learn lines now... it’s a lot more work, but I'm enjoying it.
Food Detectives premieres tonight at 9pm ET on Food Network.
Thanks so much to Ted for talking to me, and to Lisa for setting it up! It was great talking to Ted again after our first meeting at the Versace Mansion back in February. Good times.