Originally posted by the Chicago Tribune
Chicago-area chef who once appeared on the Food Network and dubbed himself the “architect of flavor” died Saturday of an apparent heart attack, according to the owners of the restaurant where he worked.
“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden passing of our friend & colleague, Chef Judson Todd Allen, culinary lead of Taste 222,” according to a tweet from Taste 222. “We’ll never forget his passion for food in creating our menu and highlighting the flavors & spices he loved.”
Allen, 36, grew up in Chatham on the city’s South Side, and he graduated from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. He earned a degree in food science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s degree in public health from UIC-Chicago and an MBA from DePaul University. He also took cooking classes along the way.
His cooking gained national recognition as a finalist of the eighth season of “Food Network Star.” He also cooked for celebrities like Steve Harvey and Jamie Foxx. In Chicago, he worked as the head chef of Taste 222, a restaurant in the Fulton River District neighborhood, which opened last May. He created about 75 percent of the menu customers taste, said Don Thompson, one of the founders of Cleveland Avenue, which owns the restaurant.
“No one could bring food to life like Judson,” Thompson said. “The way he talked to people, the motions and gestures, he would take you on the cuisine journey.”
It was Allen’s use of spices and flavors that set his food apart, said Liz Thompson, the other co-founder of Cleveland Avenue. They first met Allen after eating his food at a friend’s event in Chicago.
“We tasted the mac and cheese and other items,” Liz Thompson said. “We remember asking our friends to introduce us to the chef. They went and brought out Judson. We told him his food is amazing and we want to know more about (him).”