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Funeral services set for Chef Judson Allen, ‘architect of flavor’

Chicago chef Judson Todd Allen, photographed at his home on Friday, February 2, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Funeral arrangements have been finalized for renowned Chicago chef Judson Todd Allen, a finalist on “The Next Food Network Star” television series.

Visitation will be from 12 to 8 p.m. Friday at Taylor Funeral Home, 63 E. 79th St. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Valley Kingdom Ministries International, 5300 151st St. in Oak Forest.

Allen also was the culinary lead at the West Loop restaurant Taste 222, which issued a statement on twitter about his passing.

Allen died of a suspected heart attack May 5 at age 36, according to his family.

His mother Joyce Allen described him as a “sweet person from humble beginnings” who decided in the fourth grade that he would become a chef.

He learned to cook from his grandparents, adopting their Cajun cooking style and weaving it into his own.

“He was always a hard worker and eventually things just started happening,” Joyce said. “He was in IT for a while, then Steve Harvey called and said ‘I need you to prepare meals for me.’ They were so delicious he hired him as his personal chef.”

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Allen began to get serious about addressing his lifelong struggle with weight, his mother said.

Regarded as an “architect of flavor,” Allen’s cuisine focused on using spices to make delicious healthy food. It’s a culinary creed that helped him drop from close to 400 pounds to 210 and keep the weight off for 14 years.

That experience gave him a unique perspective on food, he told the Sun-Times earlier this year for the release of his book “The Spice Diet.”

Chicago Chef Judson Todd Allen prepares New Orleans Pecan Crusted Salmon from his cookbook, The Spice Diet.

Allen said he wanted to “dismantle what the word diet means” and help people understand it was an “inner and outer approach to lifestyle change.

“Have a vision of who you want to become. Don’t be overly concerned about the 30 pounds you want to lose,” Allen said. “That’s a short-lived goal that never becomes a lifestyle change. Yes, losing weight is part of the process, but don’t allow the goals to overtake the journey.”