Consider yourself warned by the title, but hopefully we haven’t ruined this week’s episode for anyone!
For Washingtonians tuning in to the Next Food Network Star in the hope of cheering on local chef Teddy Folkman, it has been a rough couple of weeks. For some reason, we never really got to see the camera-friendly Teddy who earned his way onto NFNS with a great performance in his Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Instead, we cringed as viewers across the country were introduced to a caricature whose over-the-top antics marked him for an early exit.
I guess we should count our blessings. If Teddy had found his groove and won it all, who knows how often we’d see him in DC as he made his way from New York to Aspen to Los Angeles like so many other celebrity chefs? Even so, it felt like the ride ended too soon to show what Folkman was really made of, both in the kitchen and in front of the camera.
Here at Capital Spice, we were fortunate enough to catch up with Teddy for another interview (like we did before the premiere). This time, he called in from Disney World (not just for Super Bowl winners anymore!), where he was in the middle of a week-long family reunion. We talked to him about his experiences with NFNS, some future plans brought about by the show, and – yes – his performance on last week’s episode.
Check out our Q&A after the jump.
Capital Spice: Sorry to see you go so soon, Teddy.
Teddy Folkman: Me too!
CS: At last week’s viewing party, you told people that you wouldn’t be around to watch this week’s episode because you were attending a family reunion. What’s the real story?
TF: It’s true! I’m in Florida with my entire extended family…including at least thirty people I’ve never met in my entire life. We’re at Disney World today, and I’m just taking some time away before we grab a late lunch.
CS: Wow…so you watched the episode surrounded by family – including some really extended family. What was that like?
TF: Oh, it was awkward. When they announced that I was eliminated, there was total silence in the room. But I stood up, thanked everyone for watching with me and told them that I’d be available to sign autographs in the lobby and that I’d be there all week! That got everyone laughing and chatting again.
CS: How are you feeling after seeing the show last night?
TF: It would be a lie to say I was 100% happy, but you have to remember that this is television and they’ve got to put together a story. Sure, the editing has been harsh toward some contestants and favorable toward others…but that’s what you sign on for when you do a show like this.
CS: It felt like last night’s results were really hurried. What kind of feedback do the contestants get at the Judges’ Table?
TF: Everybody gets a lot of feedback from the judges – we’re talking 4, 5…even 6 hours’ worth of comments! And they definitely gave us useful information. They kept telling me to “be myself” and to tone it down. Now that I’ve seen some of my performances on camera I really appreciate that advice.
CS: So which challenge would you say was your favorite?
TF: I really liked this last one [on the Intrepid]. It gave me a chance to show the kind of cooking I do best, and my experience in the cramped kitchen at Granville Moore’s really prepared me for working under those conditions. Cooking duck to medium-rare is key if you’re going to get the flavors just right, and I was proud of my execution. Bobby Flay called my DLT “four star cuisine,” and Bob Tuschman wanted seconds – he doesn’t even LIKE duck!
CS: The show really seemed to focus on your difficulties with your presentation, but one of the commenters over at Food Network Humor said that things went down a bit differently in person. What did we miss?
TF: We each had about two minutes to present – so you definitely didn’t see my whole speech. My grandfather was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and I’ve got two cousins and a sister who are currently serving on active duty. I talked about all of them, and then I saw someone in the audience crying. It got me a bit choked up, I lost my place and referred back to a few keywords I had written on my hand as prompts. I’d say it went much better than it came across on TV, but of course they played up the stumble.
CS: Which challenge was the toughest for you?
TF: I had the hardest time in the grocery store, trying to give my money-saving tip to Tyler Florence, but it was also the best learning experience for me. I was planning to make my nieces’ favorite meatloaf as my entree that evening, so I started off giving a tip about stretching more expensive ingredients (like ground beef) with bread crumbs, eggs and other cheaper ingredients. That tip didn’t go over so well, and I got flustered. When it was over, Florence said I came across as a used-car salesman…selling myself and my tip instead of sharing. That really hit home, and I tried to tone it down in my presentation at Ina Garten’s dinner party.
CS: About that dinner party…what happened?
TF: On his blog, Bob Tuschman talked about the fact that the cameras were rolling throughout the show, documenting everything. The footage doesn’t lie, but it also doesn’t tell the whole truth unless you show all of it. Ultimately, the dessert was my responsibility to execute. I actually just spoke to Debbie about the show yesterday, and we were both a bit surprised by how the whole thing played out on TV.
CS: So you and Debbie are still talking?
TF: Definitely! All of us became a family over the course of filming. I’ve said it before, but ultimately those nine people are the only other ones out there who know exactly what I experienced on the show…that makes for a pretty strong bond. We’re all still really supportive of each other, whether someone is moving or changing jobs.
CS: You’ve mentioned that Eddie Gilbert will be coming to DC to cook with you next month. Any other contestants planning to make a guest appearance?
TF: Eddie will be in DC from the 14th through the 26th, and he’ll be working with me in the kitchen at the Capitol Lounge. While Eddie’s down here, Brett [August] is also going to come down for a visit. The three of us are going to do a chef’s tour of DC, Bourdain-style.
CS: Sounds like fun! So are there any upcoming opportunities for people to see you in action outside your restaurants?
TF: Absolutely. On Saturday, July 18th, I’ll be doing a demonstration of flavorful and healthy cooking at the Washington Mystics’ game. And the next day I’ll be at Nationals’ Stadium for an Iron Chef-style grill-off with some of the stadium chefs. You should come check us out!
CS: Any final thoughts about your experience on the show?
TF: I’m really glad that I didn’t get sent home after last week’s episode…I think if I had, there probably wouldn’t be anyone out there who wanted to work with me. At least I got to show a little bit more of who I really am on the Intrepid.
CS: Well thanks for letting us watch along with you these past few weeks.
TF: Thank you!