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Exit Interview With Teddy Folkman of The Next Food Network Star

Susan took part in a great conference call with Teddy Folkman, the most recent chef to be eliminated from The Next Food Network Star. She wishes she could have been the one to write this up, but was called away by some family events, which is too bad, as she seemed to form quite the connection with Teddy in just the few moments of their conversation.

Among the other topics Teddy disussed was that his favorite aspect of participating on the show was that he got a chance to do the three things he loves the most, teaching, entertaining, and cooking. After the first day when he got to do all those, he knew he could leave happy, but hoped he would be kept on longer. He wishes he would have had a chance to prepare two of the dishes he makes at his restaurant in Washington, D.C. that are quite popular.

Teddy is currently scoping out three different locations for restaurants, two of which are within a block of his current restaurant, which would make a compound for him somewhat. He would add on a great spaghetti and meatball place, but nothing too fancy, just basic homestyle Italian food, as well as a blues/BBQ place next door, and in between there will be a patio space where they’ll pplay bocce ball and outdoor music. To top it all off, on the upstairs level of the Italian restaurant will be a dessert and espresso bar. He’s also playing around with the idea of opening up a Po Boy shop with authentic New Orleans Po Boys.

His advice for future contestants would be to take every single word of advice from the judges with a grain of salt. They’re never attacking your personality and are only trying to improve you. He’d also suggest to take a look at yourself and listen to yourself when you’re prsenting. He put on blinders himself, and watching back later, “He thought, ‘Holy crap! Who is that guy?'” He realized he was a little over the top, and after he listened to the judges, he realized he needed to calm it down a little and starting coming into himself.

The most helpful advice Teddy received on the show was also the harshest criticism he received. When Tyler Ford told him he sounded like a used car salesman, he realized right then and there he was trying too hard to sell this and sell himself, rather than be himself and talk about food. That was pretty much the catalyst that started the turnaround and calmed him down a little bit in his presentations.

It’s pointed out that Teddy seems so much calmer now than how he seemed on TV. He says excitement, anxiety, and passion were all trying to come out in thirty seconds as he tried to fit so much in in that little time, forgetting why he was there, to be himself. He loves talking to his customers and loves teaching, especially preschoolers. He was regressing to the preschooler teacher guy, and says before he went on TV, people were telling him he’d have to turn it up a notch, since he’s usually so laid back.

Although he just got done saying he was laid back, he now says he is high energy and cartoonish, and he is that way to keep his employees motivated. Yet this is a cooking show, so he needs to be more authoritative and calm. Had he had the opportunity to see his presentations afterward, he thinks it would have helped him restructure the presentations. He’s done a lot of presentations and speaking engagements since the end of the show, and he feels he’s much better with it now.

While the judges gave the chefs adivce, they only told Teddy to be himself, and he thought he was already doing that. It was just something he constantly heard, and he felt people that were only watching him for twenty minutes didn’t really know who he was. Yet, that’s why they were chosen to be on the show, because they have an ability to perform a certain way and be a certain way in front of the camera. He can’t look back and wish he would have done this or that, as it’s all over. What he can do is look back and realize how to improve it.

On the DLT Teddy made last night, his ingredients were Long Island duck breast, cream soda, and apples. He diced up the apples and made a compote, but used the cream soda infused with cinnamon and cloves for the caramel base instead of sugar and water. It was great, as the vanilla really came through from the cream soda. He was very proud of it and now even has it on the menu at his restaurant, and now people know why.

Teddy explains the state baskets for that challenge were randomy chosen out of a hat, and everyone just seemed to get something that really suited them. However, he was so hoping to get Wisconsin, as he had a beer and cheese soup he could have made that would have really blown everyone away. Yet, the DLT worked out really well for him too.

Questioned about the week Brett was eliminated in the midst of what happened between himself, Teddy and Melissa, Teddy explains they were really talking about the apple tarts from the first week, and the phenomenal idea Melissa had, yet she had a hard time executing it. He was there to make it on his own two feet and not throw anyone under the bus. They all had to work together and give each other credit. He thinks that whole event was a little overlplayed, but he and Melissa talked about it later, and were as good of friends the next day.

Teddy hopes that despite being eliminated from the show, he’ll still be on TV in the future, not to prove anything to anyone, but because he enjoys teaching, entertaining, and talking about food. He wants to be able to bring it to as many people as he can, and the Food Network is the perfect place to do that. He wants to pursue his dreams, and he hopes someone will pick up on it.

When Susan got a chance to ask Teddy some questions, she told him she watches with her 5-year-old, Isobella, who just loves Teddy. Susan wondered if anyone has ever approached Teddy about doing a show for kids and moms. He would love to do that, and says that is something he’s talked about, as he cooks with his nieces all the time. There’s just something about cooking and kids, although when he was a kid himself, he never even thought about becoming a chef. It’s really endearing that among the mail he gets from fans, he gets some from kids, especially ones that loved the talking crab he did. Apparently they like that cartoonish high energy thing.

Teddy would also love to do a cookbook for kids. One of the most fun times Teddy has is the preschool teaching he does. They’ve done sushi with construction paper, and the kids got such a kick out of it, that they then went and tried eating some. It’s not just burgers and fries anymore for them. Susan suggested a Saturday morning show with kids, and wondered if the Food Network suggested anything like that. Teddy would like to do something like that eventually and says when Saturday morning cartoons were on, he was watching Justin Wilson and Julia Childs.

Either way, no matter what he chooses to do, restaurant compound, cooking show for kids on Saturday morning, or a cookbook for kids, it’s clear Teddy has a bright future ahead of him. It’s just too bad we didn’t get to see the real him, as the Teddy on this conference call is a chef that I think would still be there today.

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