Lipman CEO Kent Shoemaker talks with Chopped star Ted Allen at the PMA Foodservice Conference and Expo. ( Ashley Nickle )

Monterey, Calif. Ted Allen, host of Food Network series Chopped, discussed his view on the future of food and what makes produce exciting at the Produce Marketing Association’s foodservice conference July 26.

Allen said the show always likes to introduce new and different varieties to viewers and be on the cutting edge of what’s coming to the market. He mentioned a unique type of lettuce and the new Driscoll’s Rose raspberries as examples. Allen suggested there might be an opportunity to partner with PMA as a pipeline for ideas on innovative new products that could be a good fit for the show.

Allen also discussed his affinity for unusual combinations of produce items in dishes – like tomatoes with strawberries or peaches – and out-of-the-box preparations of items, like shishito peppers sliced for a slaw.

The Chopped star talked broadly about the food landscape and the proliferation of options in the U.S.

“There was a time when innovative cooking in artisanal restaurants happened in New Orleans and San Francisco and New York City and Chicago maybe, but now that’s completely untrue – it happens everywhere,” Allen said. “The country has completed developed a much more sophisticated palate than it ever had.

“It has never been a better time than right now to be a food lover in America, never,” Allen said.

Years ago, it used to be that the only fancy food available was French food. Now, that isn’t the case.

“I think it’s pretty clear that everything is going global,” Allen said. “In most ways, when it comes to food, that’s nothing but good, because that means more – more variety, more flavor, more new experiences even for people who can’t afford to travel, those experiences are going to show up in your small town.”