Flay On, Playa
Editors Note: Our favorite and most knowledgeable commenter, JoeHoya, got a sneak peak of Mr. Bobby Flay, right here in DC. Below he shares his brush with Food Network fame.
About three weeks ago, local blog FrozenTropics informed readers that the Food Network would be filming a piece at Granville Moore’s, a Belgian beer and mussels place that describes itself as “A Gastropub with a Healthy Belgian Fetish.” According to the network, this would be a profile of Chef Teddy Folkman and his mussels and frites for an upcoming show called “America Eats.”
Why choose such a new and relatively low-profile locale instead of heavy-hitter Robert Wiedmaier’s Brasserie Beck? Hard to say, but Teddy submitted an audition video to the Food Network– over the top, to be sure, but a great insight into his personality and the enthusiasm he brings to the restaurant – and they liked it enough to come calling.
On Monday, they shadowed Folkman as he shopped for fresh fish for the evening’s special, prepared mussels, and served the first few folks who came into the restaurant that night. Though it had been billed as a full night of taping, the crew had packed up and left by the time I arrived at 6:30.
Food Network fans smelled something fishy, and the abbreviated taping wasn’t the first clue. Nothing about “America Eats” could be found on the network’s site, and they asked Folkman and his staff to plan a party this afternoon at which Teddy would tape another demonstration of how to make his mussels with blue cheese, bacon, spinach and shallots. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to smell a Throwdown in the making.
For those unfamiliar with the show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay is a competition show in which Flay surprises chefs at setups like this one and challenges them to a cookoff of their signature dish. Kind of a dick move, especially since the show follows Flay as he prepares for the cookoff with his
army staff of assistant chefs, usually coming up with some offbeat presentation that makes up for his lack of expertise (can you say “roasted poblanos?”). This is the show I’ve referred to as “Anything You Can Douche, I Can Douche Better,” so you get an idea of how I felt about the concept.
But I have to admit, Flay was not at all the way I expected him to be. He was engaging and funny, playing to the crowd from time to time while working up a sweat over his mussels. He came across well, though he did stop to take a call while the competition was going on, prompting more than a few jokes about Flay “phoning it in.”
Though audience members have been asked not to reveal the outcome of the throwdown, I can say that I found Teddy Folkman’s blue cheese and bacon mussels to be plump, juicy and flavorful, and his frites were crisp, salty and coated in a delicious blend of herbs like tarragon and thyme. The yellow tomato and truffle aioli that he provided for dipping was amazing, though Folkman admitted that the expensive ingredients would preclude him adding it to the menu anytime soon. Bobby Flay’s mussels, true to form, were served in a broth that featured coconut milk, green chiles and tons of butter. They were tasty, but seemed smaller and less tender than Folkman’s. And although Flay’s roasted poblano (naturally) dipping sauce was delicious, the fries themselves were disappointingly plain – more like fast-food fries than Belgian frites.
The taping created a few ‘hurry up and wait’ moments, especially when the crew cleared out the center of the room to set up a table from which the two judges could render their verdict. But the Chimay on tap and the rich food we had been served helped to keep most people smiling and clapping as directed throughout the event. And three hours later, they had enough footage for the show, which is slated to air sometime in late May or early June.