teddySo we’re a little late to this party…chalk it up to our day jobs.

When the Food Network’s press release announcing the lineup for Season Five of The Next Food Network Star hit our inbox, we knew we were going to be behind the curve in sharing the news that Teddy Folkman would be one of the competitors.  But considering what a Big Deal this is – and what huge fans we are of Teddy’s work at Granville Moore’s – there was no way we were going to let this pass without chiming in!

First things first: In case there was any doubt whatsoever, we are completely in the tank for Teddy.  As the first breakout star on H Street, NE, he has brought so much great attention to our neighborhood.  But popularity alone is not enough to win our affection: Teddy is a genuinely nice guy who just happens to be a great chef.  And we’re not the only ones who think so, either.  When we ran our “Most Crushable Chef” contest back in February, Teddy was the runaway favorite.  So don’t expect anything even remotely Fair & Balanced in our coverage of the show…it’s all Teddy, all the time.

Back in January, we caught wind of a blind item from Food Network Addict (another DC denizen – who knew?) and made our prediction that Teddy had made it onto the show.  Soon after that, he headed up to New York – he said it was to help a friend who was opening a restaurant of his own in the city.  At that point, we knew it was simply a matter of watching and waiting.

Things to watch for (including the promo photo Food Network will be using to promote Teddy) after the jump.

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Image courtesy Food Network

 The photo on the left is part of the Food Network’s promotional set for the show – one for each of the ten competing chefs, smiling and posed with food or utensils.  You might think that they would choose the accessories to reflect each chef’s unique approach to cooking.  If so, you’ve got to wonder what they’re saying about Teddy, as his cutting board features potatoes, onions, rosemary and sage.

What…no mussels?  And those potatoes are nowhere near ready to be turned into frites!

Thankfully, Teddy’s training covers a bit more than the fare available at Granville Moore’s, as evidenced by the various roles he’s taking on within Joe Englert’s empire.  As Tim Carman mentions this evening, Folkman will be rolling out a new, revamped menu at the Capitol Lounge in the near future, and he’s nearly ready to debut the Mexican-inflected menu he worked with Ann Cashion to design for the H Street Country Club (more on that in the very near future).

Teddy cut his teeth (and probably a few fingers) working at Cashion’s Eat Place on Columbia Avenue in Adams Morgan.  A James Madison grad, he worked in kitchens throughout the DC area until he took over as chef at Granville Moore’s in August of 2007.  He also works with BrainFood, a non-profit in Columbia Heights and Chinatown that works with youth to teach them about cooking, nutrition, and careers in the food industry.  Root against him…we dare you.

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All images courtesy Food Network

But what about the competition?

There are a total of ten finalists in the running, and details are slowly starting to emerge on all of them.  They are, from top left to bottom right,

Debbie Lee (West Hollywood, Calif.) – former caterer and current restaurant consultant
Brett August (Washington Heights, N.Y.) – executive sous chef at Doral Arrowwood Hotel
Jamika Pessoa (Atlanta, Ga.) – certified personal chef
Jeffrey Saad (Los Angeles, Calif.) - former restaurateur, food consultant, recipe developer and chef
Jen Isham (Orlando, Fla.) – former Disney World line cook and ‘modern housewife’
Eddie Gilbert (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) – apprentice in an LA restaurant
Katie Cavuto (Philadelphia, Pa.) – personal chef, cooking and nutritional services
Michael Proietti (New York, N.Y.) – executive chef at Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle (Anyone else do a double-take when they saw this photo?  We could have sworn Jay McCarroll from Project Runway Season 1 was changing careers!)
Melissa d’Arabian (Keller, Texas) – stay-at-home mom with “culinary and life experiences”

Of the bunch, it doesn’t sound like any of the others have experienced an onscreen audition that can compete with an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, but there are definitely a few resumes that suggest worthy competitors.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see Cavuto, Saad or Lee giving Folkman a run for the title.

If you’ve been meaning to get back to Granville Moore’s…riiiight.  This news pretty much guarantees hour-long waits for dinner from open to close most nights from now until the show premieres on Sunday, June 7th at 9 PM.  The best advice we can give is to show up early and/or stay late.  It’s what we’ll be doing!

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