Ted Allen was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, in a conservative middle class family, the eldest of two (he has a younger sister). His love of cooking emerged at a young age, inspired by the food his southern mother would make, but (a high school job as a fry cook at a Ponderosa steakhouse notwithstanding), did not pursue a career in food, opting for more academic options. After graduating from Carmel High School, Ted attended Purdue University where he gained a B.A in psychology. A short, unhappy stint at the Krannert School of Management followed, but a job as copy editor at the Lafayette, Indiana Journal and Courier inspired him to pursue journalism, gaining an M.A.in the subject from New York University.
Ted then moved to Chicago where he landed his first job covering Near North Side politics for a Lerner Community Newspaper. He started freelancing for Chicago Magazine, which led to a full time job there, eventually becoming a senior editor and restaurant critic. After several years he joined Esquire magazine as a contributing editor. While at Esquire Ted co-authored four books spawned from Esquire's 'Things a Man Should Know' column (about sex, style, business etiquette and marriage) and was nominated for a National Magazine Award for an article he wrote about male breast cancer. He has written for many other publications, including Epicurious, GQ and National Geographic Adventure.
In Spring 2002 a friend passed along a casting notice. Ted - interested in something new after 13 years in journalism - read the casting call looking for a gay man with an 'Esquire sophistication' to teach straight men about food and wine, and decided to fly to New York to audition. He was soon cast , shooting the pilot in Boston that July, the first season beginning the following year. In addition to the success of the show, Ted has worked as spokesman for various products such as Perrier, Smirnof Vodka and Diageo. He still writes for Esquire and other publications, and published a cookbook, 'The Food You want to Eat,' in 2005. Ted lives in New York with his partner since 1993, Barry Rice, and their cats, Maggie and Big Daddy.