While celebrity-chef shows may come and go, one of the mainstays of food television is smooth-talking Ted Allen.
He burst onto the small screen back in 2003 with the Emmy Award-winning smash hit Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where he taught millions of Americans about cooking and bartending. “We did a lot of cocktails,” he says. In a memorable episode, he even got Kevin Bacon’s brother Michael to make French 75s.
Now you can find Allen on a range of Food Network programs, including the acclaimed Chopped, which he hosts. Both he and the show just won James Beard Awards. And his latest book, In My Kitchen, was released this past spring. “I wanted to write a cookbook for people who love to cook, who live to cook,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean he’s stopped making drinks. In fact, in Allen’s Brooklyn apartment, there’s a mid-century-modern bar cart (he says it’s the same one John Slattery’s character, Roger Sterling, has in his office on Mad Men) and a wall-mounted Paul Evans disc bar. “You either love it or hate it,” he admits. “It’s a very acquired taste.” That’s not to mention a new stand-alone Viking ice machine, whose cylindrical cubes are ideal for mixology. “They’re shaped so they tumble around and don’t clump up,” he says.
So what does he fix for himself, anyway? “I’m a gin guy,” he says. Usually, “perfectly boring Tanqueray & Tonics.” He also has bottlings from Death’s Door, Hendrick’s and Junipero, plus the Japanese Hibiki Whisky.
But there are a few recipes for original concoctions in his new book. We like the Campari Açaí Brunch Punch, which combines three types of juice with herbs, vodka or rum and, of course, the bracingly bitter Campari. Mix up a batch and you’ll see why Allen is still on TV.