Ted Allen Dines Out for Life

Ted Allen's love of food and wine made him a household name. Now he's putting that passion to good use and fighting HIV/AIDS as the spokesman for Dining Out for Life.

BY Duane Wells

April 30 2009 12:00 AM ET

Ted Allen has become a household name because of his love for food and wine.

First gaining notoriety as a contributing editor to Esquire magazine and later as the food and wine specialist on Bravo's Emmy-winning hit series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Allen has gone on to author a collection of classic recipes titled The Food You Want to Eat and host the culinary-themed series Food Detectives and Chopped for Food Network. Along the way, Ted, Renaissance man that he is, has also found time to serve as a judge on Iron Chef America and Top Chef.

Now Allen is using his celebrity to draw attention the fight against HIV and AIDS, a cause that is near and dear to his heart. For the last two years, Allen has served as the spokesman for Dining Out for Life International, an entirely volunteer-driven, international fund-raising event that began in Philadelphia in 1991 with a small group of restaurants agreeing to donate a significant portion of one evening's proceeds to local HIV/AIDS service organizations. Since that time the event has extended its reach to over 50 cities in North America.

On April 30, Dining Out for Life and Ted Allen invite those who care about supporting HIV/AIDS service and education organizations in their own cities to simply enjoy a meal with a significant other or a group of friends at one of over 3,500 participating restaurants across the nation and, in the process, make a difference in the communities around them.

Advocate.com:How did you first get involved with Dining Out for Life?Ted Allen: I really, really like this fund-raiser for three reasons, I would say.

Of course, the real heroes in the war against HIV disease in the '80s were the activists and the health care providers and the people who dedicate their lives to this, often with very little pay. But there are, of course, millions of people who can't do that for one reason or another. They work 80 hours a week or they have children ... whatever the reason may be.

Dining Out for Life is a way that anybody can make a truly meaningful contribution to the fight against AIDS in such an easy way, by just going out to dinner with friends at the right restaurant. And as easy as it is, it's also incredibly effective. There aren't many fund-raisers that can pull down as much as $4 million in a single day as this one does. I love the efficiency of that.

The second reason for me is that whenever you're trying to raise money for something, the restaurant community is almost always the first place you go, because they always step up. This is a fund-raiser that allows them to step up again but that also benefits the restaurants and the chefs because it puts new people in their restaurants and hopefully builds their business, which has never been more important than right now when the economy is bad.

And the third thing is that every penny that is raised in your community stays in your community. You're helping out people right in your own backyard. I just find that really appealing.

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