Northside SF  

10 Questions with … Ted Allen
By Susan Dyer Reynolds

Upcoming projects: Ted’s new TV show, Food Detectives, debuts July 29 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network. The half-hour series mixes Ted’s dry humor with food factoids and experiments, aided by willing (and daring) culinary techs and brainy research from the folks at Popular Science magazine. If you’ve always wanted to know whether it takes seven years for gum to digest, tune in and find out.

Fun fact: Ted and his partner, Barry, are embarking on the restoration of their 1879 brownstone in Brooklyn. Their residence is one of five identical row houses, and they plan to preserve and restore the original details, but the furnishings will be, as Ted says, “1970s coke palace style.”

Last thing you cooked for yourself?

My tandoori(ish) chicken, here in the test kitchen at Sunset Magazine. I’m also obsessed with slow/low barbecue right now … and dry beans. We do them in Barry’s mom’s pressure cooker, and they only take 30 minutes.

Favorite food from your childhood?

My mom’s barbecue pork chops that she does in a Crock-pot.

What’s the difference between working with Padma on Top Chef and working with Carson on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?
None! (Laughs.) Padma doesn’t have to jump in front of the camera – it follows her. She eats like a horse. She claims to have gained 15 pounds in season four of Top Chef – she says she has two sizes of each dress. Now that I am hosting my own show [Food Detectives], I have enormous respect for what she does. She is in nearly every shot. She’s up at the crack of dawn, and she’s still going late at night at the judges’ table. As far as Carson goes, they are both wickedly intelligent. And Padma looks like someone who wouldn’t be afraid to give you a spanking.

Something in your ’fridge or freezer that would surprise people?
Nineteen kinds of mustard.

Your top three dishes since you’ve been a judge on Top Chef?
Dale Levitski’s scallops in the season three finale; Howie Kleinberg’s pork chop with apple fennel slaw at the Elks Club; and Richard Blais’s “perplexed tofu” this season – making the anti-meat taste like meat was genius.

Last restaurant you ate at?
Presidio Social Club – loved it. Decor, cocktails, food – all great.

Favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
Zuni Café. I love the roast chicken with the bread salad, and Judy’s cookbook is terrific.

Favorite offal?
I’m not a big organ person. I like sweetbreads … I appreciate using the whole animal, but stomachs and esophaguses, not really.

What are your guilty pleasures?
Potato chips. Lay’s Classic. I hate when you go to stores and all they have are “lightly salted” potato chips. Who wants lightly salted potato chips?

What would your last meal on earth be and where would you have it?
Rack of lamb – fancy. Barbecued pulled pork – not fancy. Robert Mondavi Reserve Cab and Opus One. And I’d have it in my funky little backyard in Brooklyn.

– S. Reynolds

Have a favorite chef or food and wine expert you’d like to see interviewed?
Send your suggestions to

Browse Column Archives

Bookmark and Share Print Page

September 2011 Issue


Horse Shoe Tavern Amici's East Coast Pizzeria


Alfreds Alfred's Steakhouse

Bobos Bobo's

Franciscan The Franciscan


Getting to know the Reillys June Top Picks

Copyright © 2005 - 2008 NorthSide San Francisco