Image Courtesy Food Network

Image Courtesy Food Network

Sure, the contrived environment and sleep deprivation that food competition contestants go through are hardly the best conditions for showing off your cooking chops.  But with everything Teddy Folkman’s got going on here in Washington, his stint on the new season of The Next Food Network Star must have felt like just another month in the life of the Flay-slaying mussel man.

In addition to his duties at Granville Moore’s, Folkman has partnered with entrepreneur Joe Englert to take on consulting chef roles at both the H Street Country Club (opening tonight) and the Capitol Lounge.  He’s also working with Englert on a number of new restaurant concepts to debut over the next year or two on H Street, NE, and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  As if that weren’t enough to exhaust him, he is also a frequent participant in charitable events like last week’s Brew at the Zoo in Baltimore and the upcoming Brainfood grill-off.

So what was it like to go through the Food Network wringer?  After reading some of the notices responding to his bio video and Joe Yonan’s advance look at the first episode over at All We Can Eat, it sounds like Teddy may be rubbing some folks the wrong way…we wonder if the pressure may have had something to do with that (and we hope it’s a temporary condition).  Eager to get his take on the experience, we were lucky enough to score one of the first interviews with Teddy as the debut of the show (Sunday, June 7th at 9 PM) approaches.

We’ve been quite open about our friendship with Teddy and our desire to see him succeed, but it bears repeating.  We’re not even going to pretend to be impartial throughout this season.  Even so, we scheduled this interview through the Food Network’s PR people, just like every other food writer out there:

Teddy_1_-_Ep_1

Image Courtesy Food Network

Capital Spice: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Teddy!
Teddy Folkman: No problem, thanks for reaching out.

CS: So…what does it feel like to be DC’s Most Crushable Chef?
TF: I heard you guys did this while I was away…but I’ve just been telling myself that you meant ‘crushable’ as in “the chef you’d most like to tackle,” so I’m honored to know so many people want to crush me!

CS: That works.  So who’s your most crushable chef?
TF: No doubt – Ann Cashion.  She’s been a mentor and an inspiration throughout my career.

More Q&A with Teddy – including some teasers about what to look for on-screen and in-town when the episodes air – after the jump. (more…)

<<EDIT 1:20 PM:  Nice to see the big TV star hasn’t let fame go to his head.  Teddy Folkman emailed to inform us: “I must admit, the menu is definitely Ann Cashion with input from me, whether taken or not. And you have to mention Chef Pablo [Cardoso – formerly of Cashion’s Eat Place and Jackie’s in Silver Spring] who is running the thing.”  Thanks for the heads up, chef!>>

H Street Club BallAs we mentioned in yesterday’s First Look at Blue Ridge, restaurants seem to be opening all over Washington these days.  But few of them have been as eagerly anticipated – and certainly not for as long – as the H Street Country Club.  Rumors and speculations about Joe Englert’s newest H Street concern have run rampant for more than two years, fueled by regular updates from Tim Carman, the Going Out Gurus, FrozenTropics and pretty much everyone else.

But now that Teddy “The Next Food Network Star” Folkman’s (second) Food Network premiere is less than a month away, the stars finally seem to have aligned.  The H Street Country Club will open to the public on Wednesday, May 27th (two days after Memorial Day)!

Bags and FlagsWe had the opportunity to take an early look at the space with Teddy a few weeks back (okay…it was almost two months ago), and we’ve been waiting for the official announcement to share what we learned.  Believe me – it’s been hard.  Long story short: this is a restaurant/bar unlike anything you’ve seen in DC, and it has the potential to cement H Street’s reputation as the go-to place for unique nightlife opportunities.  In other words, it’s classic Joe Englert.

But Englert’s visions (tortured though some of them seem to be) aren’t the only ones playing out inside the massive Country Club space.  Folkman’s Mexican-inflected menu draws heavily on the input of one of his chief culinary influences – his former boss, Ann Cashion.

Food, Folkman, fun and photos after the jump. (more…)

It’s just this simple: if you want tasty, authentic Mexican food in Washington, you need to find a way to get to Ann Cashion’s Taqueria Nacional.   

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done for most of us because this carryout tribute to LA’s taco trucks is only open from 7 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday.  Lucky you if you live or work near Union Station and can stop by during the week!  If not, you may want to seriously consider taking a sick day so you can check this place out for yourself

When Elizabeth arrived in Washington after spending her college years in California, she quickly came to the conclusion that the DC Mexican food scene was sorely lacking.  After a few meals of tired tacos and boring burritos, she pretty much gave up on finding anything like what she had previously known and loved.

All that changed earlier this month, when she took her first trip to Taqueria Nacional.

(more…)