Ted Allen is an openly gay American author, television personality and former journalist who originally shot to fame as the 'Food and Wine Connoisseur' on the 'Emmy Award' nominated Bravo network show 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'. He is currently best recognized as the longtime host of the Food Network reality-based cooking game-show 'Chopped', which has earned him a 'James Beard Foundation Award'. He had started his career as a freelance journalist focusing on fine dining and worked with 'Chicago' magazine and 'Esquire' magazine as a contributing editor. He continued to write for both the magazines even after earning fame on television, and has contributed to other publications including 'GQ', 'Bon Appétit', 'Food & Wine', and 'Epicurious'. At 'Esquire', he wrote a feature on the little-known phenomenon of male breast cancer, for which he was named a finalist in the 'National Magazine Awards'. Apart from hosting and judging numerous cooking and food-related shows for various networks, he has narrated one episode of the TV series 'Crazy Delicious', acted on series such as 'Modern Love' and 'The Rocketeer', guest starred on an episode of 'Black-ish', and appeared on several documentaries.
Childhood & Early Life
Edward 'Ted' Allen was born on May 20, 1965, in Columbus, Ohio, United States to Lowell Reese Allen and Donna Allen, and was raised in Carmel, Indiana, where his parents relocated in 1973. He has a sister named Lisa Martin, who is now a Noblesville resident.
Completing his graduation from Carmel High School in 1983, he enrolled in Purdue University for the excellent psychology course it offered and obtained his bachelor's degree in 1987. He then decided to pursue MBA at Purdue's Krannert Graduate School of Management, but left midway to join the Lafayette daily newspaper 'Journal & Courier' as a copy editor.
He was more interested in writing and later returned to graduate school to earn his master's degree in journalism from New York University. He also got an advanced certificate in the school's Science and Environmental Reporting Program.
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Straight from journalism school, Ted Allen went to Chicago and became a reporter for Lerner Newspapers, a chain of community weeklies, where he began his first foray into fine dining. Along with his future husband Barry Rice, who was then the entertainment editor for the chain, he became part of a dining-critique team, 'The Famished Four', which reviewed food from the 'regular guy' perspective.
Soon, he joined the 'Chicago' magazine as a freelance restaurant critic and wrote about food, wine and luminaries of the culinary world before becoming a senior editor there. In 1997, he began writing features, food pieces, and profiles for 'Esquire' as a contributing editor, and over the next few years, co-authored several books in the 'Things a Man Should Know' series.
In the early 2000s, while looking for something new, Ted Allen came across a notice by New York-based casting director Barbara Barna for the upcoming Bravo network show 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'. Barna saw Allen as "the thinking woman's sex symbol" and picked him as the 'Food and Wine Connoisseur', an expert on alcohol, beverages, food preparation and presentation, on the series that started in July 2003.
The series, which was later shortened to 'Queer Eye', also featured four other gay professionals alongside Allen: 'Grooming Guru' Kyan Douglas, 'Design Doctor' Thom Filicia, 'Fashion Savant' Carson Kressley and 'Culture Vulture' Jai Rodriguez. The 'Fab Five' usually performed a 'make-better' for a heterosexual man, which quickly became a surprise success, securing an 'Emmy Award', and spawned a female oriented spin-off in 2005.
He subsequently made appearances on various talk shows and judged several episodes of Food Network's cooking shows 'Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters' and 'Iron Chef America: The Series' starting from 2004. In 2006, he was a guest judge on one episode of the first season of the Bravo reality competition 'Top Chef', and later served as a regular judge on season three and four.
He explored wine-making process around the world in the PBS series 'Uncorked: Wine Made Simple' in 2007 before returning to Food Network to host two shows; 'Food Detectives' in 2008 and 'Chopped' in 2009. The first, a food-science show investigating food-related beliefs, ran for 23 episodes, while the second, a reality cooking game-show, became one of the network's highest-rated prime time shows and is successfully running for 44 seasons.
'Chopped' also shot 31 special episodes and branched off to create spin-off shows like 'Chopped Sweets', a dessert-themed show hosted by Scott Conant, 'Chopped Junior', featuring adolescent chefs, and 'Chopped After Hours'. Allen has hosted 21 episodes of 'Chopped After Hours' between 2014 and 2017, and nearly 90 episodes of 'Chopped Junior' in 2015-19.
He made guest appearances on four episodes of 'Food Network Star' between 2009 and 2012, and went on to appear on several episodes of 'The Best Thing I Ever Ate' from 2009 to 2018. In 2012, he also appeared on five episodes of the spin-off series 'The Best Thing I Ever Made'.
In 2014, he hosted the cooking competition 'America's Best Cook' and began appearing as judge and mentor on another cooking competition show, 'Beat Bobby Flay', both on the Food Network. The following year, he hosted several episodes of the reality TV series 'Best.Ever.' and 'All-Star Academy'.
Ted Allen began his career as an author co-writing four books with Scott Omelianuk from the very popular 'Things a Man Should Know' series by the 'Esquire' magazine between 1999 and 2001. In 2004, following the success of 'Queer Eye', he co-authored 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab Five's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better' with his cast-mates.
In 2005, he collaborated with author, recipe developer and tester Stephanie Lyness on his quick-reference cookbook 'The Food You Want To Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes'. His latest book, also his first solo book as an author, was 'In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate', released in 2012.
Family & Personal Life
Ted Allen first met Barry Rice, a former journalist and Columbia College journalism professor who now works as an interior designer, while working as a journalist in Chicago back in 1993. They have been together ever since and after getting legally registered as domestic partners, began referring to each other as 'husband'.
However, even after New York, his current home state, made gay marriage legal in 2011, they decided not to marry until equal rights at federal level was granted. In June 2013, three hours after the US Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, he announced that he and his partner of two decades were "engaged to be married".
His parents were divorced by the time his father died on May 17, 2008 in Carmel, following sudden illness. His mother, who is currently married to Art Adams, filmed an episode of 'Chopped' with Ted in February 2017 for a Mother's Day special to be aired on May 9.
Antoni Porowski, the current food and wine expert in the Netflix revival of 'Queer Eye', lives in the same neighborhood as Ted Allen and has worked as his assistant and personal chef for three years.