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Sunday, April 23, 2017

(OUTview AMERICA) EXCLUSIVE: Ted Allen talks 'Queer Eye,' food and Dining Out for Life!

by MK Scott

The 26th Annual Dining Out For Life® hosted by Subaru® is a restaurant-based event with a truly scrumptious call to action: Dine at one of the 3,000 participating restaurants in more than 60 cities across North America on Thursday, April 27th and that restaurants will donate a generous portion of the day's proceeds to fund HIV/AIDS care, prevention, education, testing, counseling and other essential services in their city.

For over 20 years, Lifelong AIDS Alliance has benefited from this annual event and it goes into the same programs that are benefited from the annual AIDS Walk that occurs every September. Here is a chance to support Lifelong's programs by just eating out.

On this day, over 100 restaurants in the Seattle area will donate 30-50% of their proceeds to Lifelong's vital programs that support people facing serious illness and poverty in our community. For participating restaurants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com or Facebook/DiningOut4Life.

Because of your support, in 2016, Lifelong was able to feed over 1,900 individuals by providing 36,500 bags of groceries and 170,000 nutritious meals to those in need. Dining Out for Life is one of Lifelong's biggest, most important fundraisers of the year and ensures that their food program, Chicken Soup Brigade, can continue to provide their clients with healthy food catered to their specific medical conditions. DOFL also ensures that Lifelong's other life-saving programs, including medical case management, housing, insurance and dental, can continue to support the clients who need it the most.

Reality star and my old friend (of 14 years), Ted Allen ('Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,' 'Chopped') has been one of the spokespeople for Dining Out for Life for over 10 years. I had the chance to chat with Ted by phone last month on March 14th.

MK Scott: Ted, how are you? I know it's been about thirteen years since we last saw each other.

Ted Allen: I am very well and we have got to stop meeting like this.

MK: But I'm very excited because this is our first official interview. I am also excited that you are a one of the spokespeople for Dining Out for Life.

TED: I appreciate your interest. It's hard for me to believe, but I've been involved with Dining Out for Life, this is my tenth year, when I've done press to promote Dining Out for Life. I've always been thrown around the number - about $4 million dollars it raises across the country - nearly all of which stays directly in the community. I think all of it does. All the money raised in Seattle is spent in Seattle on Seattle residents who have issues with HIV or AIDS and also, of course, in prevention efforts. I'm very happy to report that last year that number was actually $4.19 million, which is a nice increase; and although the progression of the HIV disease has changed over those years, in terms of the population that is hit the hardest, it's still very much an issue, and it's something we can't forget about. For me, this Dining Out for Life is a sort of perfect fit, because it addresses the issues that still impact the LGBT Community and affects other populations I care about, like that are primarily women of color. It also impacts the industry that I love so much, the restaurant industry, and the craft I love so much, which is the cooking of food, and this is the case, whenever you are trying to raise money for a good cause, the restaurant community is almost always the first place to go, it always is one of the places to go, they always step up, they provide gift certificates, they cook for free at fundraisers, every chef I know cooks for free. They get an average of three to five to ten events in a year and some the famous chefs including the great (Chef) Tom Collocchio or my personal friend Mark Murphy who devoted enormous amount of time to work for groups like No Kid Hungry or Tom, who has just launched, with his wife, a new campaign that's gonna be unveiled on the twenty first of this month called Food is Fuel and it's all about preserving SNAP benefits and for people with families who are hungry and a bunch of issues that matter a lot to me and I'm sorry I talked at such great length and I'll shut up....

MK: Besides the fact that it includes the food aspect, what are the reasons why Dining Out for Life, is so important to you?

TED: It's so easy to say 'Yes' to this event! That's the thing about this event, everybody will say 'yes,' everybody&we all have to eat and the range of restaurants that participated goes all the way from the corner cafe where we go for a cup of coffee and sandwich to a nice restaurant where it is cooked by a real creative person and staffed by creative people who like to take care of other people, where you could order a dessert or a nicer wine, even celebrate with champagne, which increases the amount of money that the restaurant can donate. There is nothing but goodness about the whole thing.

MK: In the current political climate, what should be the biggest healthcare concern of people living with AIDS or other LGBT concerns?

TED: Right now, the Republicans attempting to overturn Obamacare with something that would knock 24 million people off their health insurance with un-affordable, less coverage, particularly important on all those people and obviously within that 24 million people, there are people with HIV/AIDS who are going to lose their health insurance period. 'Tough Luck,' and this is this supposed to be better? Also, I saw an interesting tweet from the comedian Michael Ian Black, who said that, the point of Obamacare was to put millions of people back on health insurance, the point of the Republican response is to provide tax breaks to thousands of wealthy people, so our goals, President Obama's goal, was to provide insurance for millions of people. Republicans are taking a lead from millions of peoples to get a tax break to very privilege wealthy people and I don't know, frankly, how Paul Ryan looks at himself in the mirror in the morning, when he is behind that. You going to be that person in history? OK, I think with fight, I think with protest, I think the second protest, it is good to talk to somebody I could actually discuss this with. I mean, you know in NY that's not an uncommon position. We are strong in our opposition to this administration and I think ultimately we are going to win again, but right now we are in a very challenging time.

MK: Burning Question: What is Ted Allen's favorite cuisine and why?

TED: Ahaa! Well, there are too many to narrow down. I will narrow down a little bit, and this one, I can cut it down to some of my favorites. On 'Queer Eye,' I had the best job. Food and wine. Thom had it with hard labor, but he is so creative. Carson shopped for clothes. Kyan was grooming and had limited time and I was limitless and all I did was cook and drink wine. I can explain to you the different styles of champagne. You know I love Mexican, French food. I will roast a chicken tonight in a Frenchy way with lemon, thyme, garlic. I love Thai food, Korean BBQ. I love Japanese food. I love Chinese food. I mean, that is to say, at some point, to say what I love about food, is the priority - is my favorite about it. I made a quiche for lunch today. I don't know how old you are, but every time I make a quiche, I can't help remembering and can't believe there is a book from the 1980's called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. Hello, it is a frittata with a crust, delicious, what is not to like?! Someone got rich off that book. Let's hope they donated the proceeds to Dining Out for Life or LGBT causes.

MK: Ted, thanks for chatting!

TED: Well, thanks, MK. I really appreciate your help getting the word out about Dining Out for Life. It's a great organization and everybody should go eat and do something good for the world!

About Dining Out For Life
Dining Out For Life began in Philadelphia in 1991 and has since grown into an international event held across North America and raising an average $4.2 million annually. The idea behind the single-day event is simple and effective: Dine Out, Fight AIDS. Each restaurant donates a percentage of the day's food sales, which goes to local organizations to fund care, prevention, education, testing, counseling and other essential HIV/AIDS services. For more information, visit www.diningoutforlife.com or Facebook/DiningOut4Life. To participate, please contact Dining Out For Life International Association, Inc. 

About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 620 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit media.subaru.com.

For more of Ted Allen talking about his Food Network show, 'Chopped,' and what he thinks of the new version of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,' check out MK's podcast at podomatic.com/podcasts/itsfab.

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