Ted Allen’s jetting into Miami from NYC for a quickie 24-hour turnaround, but it’s so worth it. On Friday night, the newspaper copy editor (gotta love it) turned TV personality will be one of the distinguished guests at a dinner benefiting the James Beard Foundation, helping to promote the culinary arts. The following day, the former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star and current Chopped host, 48, will lead a cooking demo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sur La Table at Mizner Park in Boca Raton.
Why do you think “Chopped” is so popular?
A lot of elements make it work. Our editors cut the show very tightly, and it’s a very durable format. The competition is incredibly difficult. Most cooks have never been on TV before, then you have cameramen following you around the kitchen. Even if we have a couple of competitors who are duds, we can make it enjoyable. It’s a good place to be. We film four episodes a week and have long days, but at the end of it, I get to go home and sleep in my own bed with my kitty cats. A lot of jobs don’t have that luxury.
What about those mystery baskets?
The ingredients, which may at times seem incredibly cruel and random, are just cruel. All baskets are assembled by a group of employees from Food Network’s culinary department. There’s always a riddle inside.
Do you ever eat the strange concoctions?
That’s one of the top five questions I get. The answer is no, but I consider myself lucky. I mean, Rocky Mountain Oysters? Ugh. Fans seem genuinely concerned for my welfare and that — because I am not eating what the contestants made — I might not have access to other food [laughs].
Tickets for Friday’s event at the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach from $200: 305-751-9641, ext. 101 (http://tasteamerica.myshopify.com/collections/miami). For info on Allen’s free demo Saturday, call 800-243-0852.