Talking with Ted Allen: 18 Things You Didn't Know About the Chopped Host

Take a trip beyond the chopping block to discover some fun facts about Ted Allen, and what his life is like on and off the Chopped set. 

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Get to Know Ted

Think you know all there is to know about Chopped host and cookbook author Ted Allen? Read on to learn his favorite mystery basket ingredient, his favorite snack and his newest hobby. 

Pet Project: He Started the Maine Coon Cat Craze

We have three Maine coon cats. We were the first Food Network people to have Maine coon cats, and now since that time Bobby Flay has copied us, and Anne Burrell has copied us.”

How He Really Cooks: He’s Slow & Low

"I've had Marc Murphy and Amanda Freitag shove me out of my own kitchen, because I was moving too slowly and it frustrated them. I cook with the stereo on and a glass of wine in one hand, and I have a great time doing it, but I like to cook things — I don't even want to cook food that's fast. I like to watch flavor develop. I like making stews and pulled pork and slow-and-low meat."

His Other Dream Job: He Wants to “Walk This Way”

“You know, when I was growing up, I wanted to be the lead singer of Aerosmith, and I still do actually.”

Favorite Mystery Basket Ingredient: Chicken in a Can, Thank You Ma’am

My favorite mystery basket ingredient remains the whole chicken in a can, not so much because I love the food, [but because] I love the sound it makes when it plops out of the can.”

He Doesn’t Rise with the Sun: No Early Bird

I am so not a morning guy. I think I got up at 10 this morning, and that’s pretty much how I like it.”

His Horticultural Hobby: Rooftop Gardening

“I love gardening. I grow tomatoes on my rooftop in herb boxes with a little simple irrigation system. Nothing I love more than a fresh homegrown tomato, when they’re actually ripe, in August or September.”

For Him It's Standing Room Only: Chopped Hosting Rules

“I never get to sit down. I’ve asked: they said no. I don’t know why they’re obsessed with making me stand up all the time. Maybe it’s kind of like exercise. People in New York City pay good money to exercise, and they have to pay me to do it.”

Grocery Shopping Routine: Backpacking Through the Aisles

“I like grocery shopping. Some people don’t, they think of it as a chore. I don’t think of it as a chore at all: I think it’s inspiring. I actually go to, like, six different places when I go grocery shopping, so I strap on a backpack and I start walking.”

Favorite Kitchen Tool: Fish Spatula, but for Brownies

“Only recently in life did I discover the majesty of the fish spatula, which is that slotted spatula with the angled, slightly curved and angled edge. It’s great for fish, of course, but if you think about when you need to get that first brownie out of the pan, or that first slab of lasagna out of the pan, a fish spatula does it perfectly.”

He's a Music Lover: Tons of Tunes

“Actually I collect tons and tons of music. That’s one thing people might not realize. I’m way cooler than I look on television. I’ve been really, deeply into good music since I was in junior high school. I love Zeppelin, I love Arcade Fire, The Decemberists and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.” 

His Favorite Snack: “Cheese. Absolutely.”

“I had a birthday recently that produced an enormous amount of cheese in my house, and for two days I had nothing but cheese and crackers for lunch. So good.”

He's Never Getting Chopped: Competition Jitters

“I’m probably never, almost certainly never going to compete in an actual episode of Chopped for several reasons. One is I’m not a professional chef, and [another is] I’m not going to cook against Alex Guarnaschelli."

He's Done DIY: Home Is Where the Sweat Equity Is

“I live in a 140-year-old house that my partner and I painstakingly renovated.”

He Likes Blending Styles: Victorian Goes Retro

“We live in a Victorian brownstone, but our furniture looks like it came out of Rod Stewart’s apartment circa 1974, and I love that.”

He's a Fan of Kitchen Vents: Searing Sans Smoke

“If you’re about to renovate take note of this: I have a really powerful vent hood over my stove, which allows me to panfry, pan-sear a steak, and all of the smoke goes right out of the room immediately. And the best thing about it is that the fan part, the motor, is on the exterior of the house, so it’s quiet. It’s quiet and powerful.”

See More Photos: Star Kitchen: Ted Allen

Last-Meal Must-Haves: A Comforting Menu

“Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and champagne … AND some vegetables. Maybe a nice salad with a nice sharp mustard vinaigrette on it."

His Newest Hobby: Bee-ing in Brooklyn

"When Barry [Ted's Partner] first said he was getting into beekeeping, I thought he was crazy. It's been rewarding learning how their little ecosystem works."

See More Photos: Golden Boys: Ted Allen's Brooklyn Rooftop

He's Cookbook-Smart: Knowledge Is Power

"Knowing about food is an important part of being an urbane, sophisticated man," Ted says with a laugh.

See More Photos: The Cook's Books: Ted Allen's Cookbook Library

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