Dining Out for Life
Ted Allen talks food and why he’s supporting the cause
Published Thursday, 17-Apr-2008 in issue 1060
Ted Allen, Emmy Award-winning television personality and renowned culinary critic, is putting his celebrity to use for a good cause. Allen is the 2008 Dining Out for Life international spokesperson. In San Diego, Dining Out for Life will take place on Thursday, April 24.
Allen first came to national attention as the food and wine connoisseur on Bravo’s groundbreaking show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Currently he is a judge for Bravo’s hit series “Top Chef” and the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” He is also the host of the PBS series “Uncorked: Wine Made Simple.”
Allen is busy helping spread the word that everyone can participate in Dining Out for Life simply by going out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and/or cocktails at select establishments on April 24.
In San Diego, local businesses will donate a minimum of 25 percent of their food and liquor sales on that day to benefit HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs at The San Diego LGBT Community Center. A full listing of the more than 50 participating San Diego area restaurants, bars and coffee houses is listed here (see sidebar) or is available online,
Allen got his start as a food writer, having earned his master’s degree in journalism from New York University. For more than a decade, he has been a contributing editor to Esquire magazine, where he writes about food, wine and style. He also is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit and He co-wrote The New York Times best seller, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab Five’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better and Living Better. He also has written a cookbook, The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes, which features easy, all-natural recipes.
He took time out of his busy schedule to talk a bit about food and the importance of Dining Out for Life.
Gay & Lesbian Times: Ted, when you go out to eat, do you have a favorite type of restaurant?
Ted Allen: Nope. Well, I am partial to Mediterranean cooking, Italian, in particular. But I like all kinds of food – French, Thai, Middle-Eastern, Brazilian, Mexican, Japanese, American comfort. All that matters to me is that it’s made with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and that it’s cooked with pride and love.
GLT: What is your secret indulgence when it comes to food?
TA: I have something of a weakness for potato chips. An enormous weakness, actually. I live and die for salty, crispy food. I’d rather have potato chips than ice cream or chocolate.
GLT: Do you have a favorite restaurant city?
TA: I’m partial to New York, New Orleans and Chicago. But the great thing about the food revolution of the past 20 to 30 years in America is that we’re getting great restaurants in cities of ALL sizes. The more the public learns about great food and wine, the more chefs will step up to the stove and give it to us. It’s a great time for food lovers!
GLT: There are so many charities out there, why DOFL?
TA: I’m really privileged to be involved with Dining Out For Life, especially at a time when too many people wrongly believe the HIV/AIDS crisis no longer is a crisis. New HIV infections are on the rise in a generation of young gay men who weren’t around the first time AIDS ravaged our country; meanwhile, heterosexual women of color continue to be the fastest growing population of people with HIV today. Dining Out makes it possible for virtually everyone to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against AIDS, while at the same time having fun and supporting restaurants in their community – it’s a win-win-win!
GLT: Do you know where you are going to eat for Dining Out?
TA: I’m not certain where I’ll be on April 24, but I know I will be supporting this event! On this one-day of dining, Dining Out for Life serves over a million meals to help raise crucially needed funds for HIV/AIDS organizations in 47 cities across North America.
GLT: How can people help the cause throughout the year, in addition to participating in Dining Out for Life events?
TA: There are so many ways to join the fight and help from all of us is still so badly needed. Deliver meals to people with HIV, volunteer for local AIDS service organizations and patronize the restaurants that so graciously have stepped up to share their success with people who need help.
GLT: How much does Dining Out For Life hope to raise?
TA: I know last year Dining Out for Life raised over $3 million, and the program expects to better that this year. Funds are contributed back to AIDS programs and organizations in the city where it was raised.
More information about San Diego’s Dining Out for Life event is available at or by calling (619) 692-2077, ext. 246.

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