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11 days remain until the premiere of The Next Food Nextwork Star. Our marketing and PR teams have been sending out all 10 finalists to foodie events and festivals around the country to stir up excitement about the chefs and the show. Here on The FN Dish, we’re giving the finalists their own platform to rant and rave about all the adventures along the road! First up…… finalist, Teddy Folkman:
This last weekend, I headed out to the annual two day event “Brew at the Zoo” at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, where I was going to be meeting the guests and talking about being 1 of 10 finalists in the upcoming season of The Next Food Network Star. I’d also be demoing my specialty – Mussels and Fries. I was really excited to be part of this particular event… beer, food, music and later on I’d run into giraffes kissing and polar bears in heat… the typical weekend of a Next Food Network Star finalist – this is so cool.
About an hour after we arrived at the zoo, the flood gates, uh festival gates opened. I felt like I was thrown into another challenge from The Next Food Network Star, as oppose to just being at the event promoting it! A crowd starts to gather, and I have to make small talk in addition to cooking my Moules Biere (recipe below) and dropping my fries to go along with them. While being pelted by questions about beer, food, and of course the upcoming show, I realize that the power supply to the fries died. Luckily we got help, it got fixed in time, and immediately got back to cooking.
I have to tell you, the autograph part took a second to register. I know its part of the gig now, but as much publicity and press that come with being on The Next Food Network Star, I never thought it would come to this… my chicken scratch signature on a postcard. Creepy? Cool? Don’t know what to think yet. But I have to tell you, the people who I got to meet were really a pleasure. Not only was the crowd asking me about food and beer, but they were teaching me what they knew. Some conversations I wished could have lasted for hours.
The next day of the festival, my girlfriend Kate and I arrived at the zoo early so that we could walk around and see the animals before the gates opened. Being an avid National Zoo goer in Washington DC, I thought I had seen it all. But spring was in the air and the Giraffes were into it. Not only were they nuzzling one another, but full on kissing. Only the picture can describe what I witnessed.
1:00pm rolled around, and I was thirsty and hungry. Time to hit the festival – this time as a guest.
First stop was to the beer. You had your standards, but there were a few standouts in my opinion. One, an old favorite (Dogfish Head’s 60-Minute IPA) and the other, a freaky new beer which I must admit surprised me: Magic Hat’s summer brew, Wacko English Ale. Its vibrant pink color made me think “cosmo” rather then a good summer sesh beer — the pink color comes from the beet sugar used in the brewing process — but when I tasted it, the flavor was crisp, pallet cleansing, without being too hoppy or malty, yet with a flavor that contains hints of both. For a more “visual” explanation of this beer, click on the link: http://www.magichat.net/wacko. You won’t be disappointed.
After getting my fill and starting to feel a grumble in my ever growing beer retention chamber (stomach), I perused the various dining options at the festival. African food, BBQ ribs, pork, and brisket with your choice of sauces ranging from the traditional Carolina style to a spicy chipotle-lime ala Bobby Flay, it was all there. But my attention was really drawn to “The Pepper Jack Grille”, a family run business that blew me out of the water with their take on a fish taco that I will dream about for weeks: A chimichanga in appearance, loaded with tilapia, slaw, and a still undefined yet tangy sweet sauce – perfectly executed. In fact, I was so impressed, I went back to compliment them on the food and see if they had a restaurant I could go to get their food all the time. As a matter of fact a lot of the vendors, like “The Pepper Jack Grille,” only travel the festival circuit; never having a place to call their own. ATTENETION BUSINESS INVESTORS – Get these guys a home. They rock.
With just days left until the premiere, my fellow finalists are buzzing around the country gearing up for NFNS, as well — so check back to see who will be reporting next from the front lines. My next event stop will be SAVOR in Washington DC, where I will be giving you my take on everything brewed and chewed, so stay tuned!
Teddy’s Moules Biere
1/8 Cup Applewood smoked bacon
1 lbs PEI Mussels (cleaned and de-bearded)
2 T Blended Oil
¼ Each Onion, Sliced thin in half moons
4 oz Belgian White Beer
1 T Herb Mix (1 part each rosemary, thyme, tarragon and 3 parts parsley)
1 Each Lemon Wedge (juice and wedge)
Sea Salt and Pepper
• In a sautee pan on medium high, add oil and bacon
• Render bacon until slightly crispy
• Add in onions and turn down heat
• Cook onions until slightly browned
• Add in mussels and sautee for 30 seconds
• Increase heat to high, add lemon juice, lemon, and beer
• Toss occasionally coating mussels
• Add in fresh herbs
• Cover and steam for 1 minute
• Mussels are done when the shells are fully open
• Discard any unopened mussels
• Season with sea salt and black pepper
• Serve with frites or bread!
Watch The Next Food Network Star Sunday nights at 9pm/8c · Premieres June 7
**The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested the above recipe and therefore, we cannot make representation as to the results**