Q&A: Ted Allen from Chopped Talks In-Flight Magazines, Mexico, and Airport Food

by  Hilary Sheinbaum | Aug 15, 2014
Plane / Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock

As the star of Food Network’s Chopped, and former judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, Ted Allen can eat.

And eat. And eat.

But when he’s not eating, or jamming out to David Bowie, he’s traveling -- and currently looking for some vacation suggestions. That said, when he does take off, Ted has reading requirements for boarding a plane and refuses to purchase products from those in-flight magazines. We recently caught up with Ted while eating Thai food, as he, Pepcid, and Eater.com, hosted dinner at Pok Pok NY at its new Brooklyn location.

Read on for our exclusive interview…

Q: What are your must-have carry on items?
A: My noise-canceling headphones and lots of stuff to read. I'm always disturbed when I get on a plane -- I'm always next to a business guy who brings nothing to read, not even a newspaper! The plane takes off and he starts to look at the SkyMall catalog. I'm like, really? You're flying to Los Angeles [from NYC], and you're going to be nourished by the SkyMall catalog? The little speakers that look like rocks, and the massagers and stuff?

Q: Have you bought anything from the SkyMall catalog?
A: Has anybody ever bought anything from the SkyMall catalog?

Q: They must...
A: Yeah. Salesmen! I have not. It's kind of fun to look at the stupid stuff in there, but I like to have a book or two. I catch up on magazines on flights. I still love print magazines.

Q: What's the last thing you bought in an airport?
A: I often buy Rolling Stone [magazine] in airports because I don't subscribe to it, but I like to see it once in a while. I really love Vanity Fair. I just subscribed to The New Republic, which is great. I bought a sandwich at Subway lately, because that was absolutely the most food-like option.

Q: What airport were you in?
A: Puerto Vallarta, like a month ago.

Q: That was your last trip? What did you do there?
A: Yep. Sat on my ass and sunbathed! I went to a nice resort in Pura Vida and stayed in this amazing guesthouse in Puerto Vallarta Proper, part of it, which used to be part of the actor Richard Burton's home. I'm not sure I'd recommend Puerto Vallarta as a destination. It's a little played out, but it was a slice. I'd never been there before. I needed to get some sun. Our [New York] winter sucked. I was like, I don't care what it costs, I don't care where it is -- just get me there!

Q: Have you ever been stopped at customs?
A: [Laughs] No. That's a good question. Another good question: have you ever lied going through customs.

Q: Have you lied at customs?
A: I'm not going to answer that. No.

Q: What's your next trip?
A: I don't have one lined up! I've shot 8 episodes [of Chopped], so I have 31 more episodes to go. We wrap Chopped on July 2, so my next trip is to Chelsea Market [in NYC], and then home, and then to Chelsea Market and then home for several weeks. It's a good problem to have, and it's still fun to make it.

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