Celebrity Chef Ted Allen Tells Me Martha Stewart's Message

At the James Beard Foundation's sumptuous "Chefs & Champagne" event at Wolffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons, honoree Ted Allen--the Queer Eye food guy who's now the host of Food Network's Chopped--talked edibles with me between courses.

Hi, Ted. What are the hot new trends in food these days?

I'm terrible with trends because I don't much care. Sometimes I try to convince people it's goat--goat is the new pork. And it should be because when it's well done, it's great.

What are people doing foodwise in this economy?

We've tried thinking, "How can you deliver great flavor at lower cost?" Some of the favored cuts are always less expensive ones--skirt steak, flank steak, hanger steak, and pork secreto--cuts that only take knowledge.

Or goat secreto! Anyway, I didn't realize steak was what would get the common man through a financial crisis. I love skirt steak. Bring on the recession.

I like skirt steak too. You only need to know five things: Hot fire; sear it well; never overcook it; rest it for 10-15 minutes or when you cut it, the juice will come out; and cut against the grain.

I always do. What do you think of Martha Stewart?

I've learned more from her than anyone, but some people find her off-putting because she's such a perfectionist. I think Martha's sending out the message: "You can do it, just not as well as I can."

And she's right.

I know!

We ended with a chat about my Italian background and Ted admitted, "I wish I was Italian! I have some vague English-Welsh background ethnicity that's contributed very little to the culinary world."

I'd gladly swap him my identity for his goat recipes.


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