Ted Allen returns to North Texas to bring some grape to your meal
Addison Conference and Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. May 21 at 8 p.m. $5Ââ€“$15. AddisonTexas.net.
Ted Allen knows the simplest part of dinner can also be the hardest. That’s why he returns to this weekend’s Taste Addison to school people on the art of pairing wines with meals.
But while he’s back for work, he admits being back in Dallas is a pleasure trip, too — Big D and Big T have become a fine pairing in their own right.
"I had never been to Dallas until Queer Eye for the Straight Guy when we filmed episodes there," Allen says. "I had never given Dallas much thought, but the party thrown for us at Neiman Marcus played a big part in how I feel about the city. People were so gracious and it was really cool."
Allen teams up again with Robert Mondavi winery for his third appearance at Taste Addison. According to Allen, Mondavi has a fondness for the Dallas area because the market here for wines is high and Mondavi gets its share of devotees. The winery and Allen, though, see this is a prime spot to educate newbie wine connoisseurs of all tastes.
"My mission is to speak to regular folks who are new to wine," he says. "Everybody’s welcome to learn more about it. There are no stupid questions. This is very much an entry level discussion."
When he’s not jet-setting around the country giving demonstrations or working with celebrities like Pam Grier as spokespeople for Dining Out for Life (a nationwide culinary event that benefits HIV/AIDS organizations) Allen keeps busy with a few projects of his own â€“ namely his hosting duties on Food Network shows Chopped and Food Detectives.
"I’m really kinda crazy busy with work," he says. "This is the part where I don’t miss Queer Eye because it took a week to film one episode. With Chopped, we film in a single day so that gives me a lot more time. I’m also collecting recipes now for a new cookbook, but I’ve kinda been outta commission for a year. We’ve been renovating our kitchen."
Allen was a judge on Top Chef prior to Chopped, which plays like a whole season of Top Chef rolled into one hour. Each chef gets a box of surprise ingredients and has to create the ideal meal in little time. As the title itself suggests, the competition is cutthroat, but good-guy Allen wants everyone to win.
"There is this committee of sadistic people who pick the ingredients," he says jokingly. "It’s ridiculous how they do it. Some chefs actually get panic attacks. I want everyone to succeed. I wish we could get everybody a nice piece of beef tenderloin, eggs and have at it, but that wouldn’t be the kinda challenge people wanna see."
Allen’s travels may still be work, but it gets him away from the working hubbub of homelife. And if Dallas is on the itinerary, all the better. He’s glad to come back.
"It’s definitely a different city but it’s so welcoming," he says. "Plus, I’m working to promote people’s interest in wine. Dallas and myself have a reasonably soft spot for each other … and Chicago but that’s probably because I lived there."
We’ll let that one slide. Just bring us a nice bottle of red.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 21, 2010.