Timbers Kiawah Ocean Club & Residences’ food and beverage manager Teddy Folkman has an extraordinary culinary résumé — which he hid from potential employers when he moved from Washington, D.C. to Charleston, S.C..
It’s true. Folkman had made a name for himself as an executive chef, partner, and consultant involved with several successful D.C.-area gastropubs and upscale tavern-style restaurants. He’d served as culinary ambassador for Duvel Moortgat USA and Brewery Ommegang. He co-founded the immensely popular “D.C.Beer Week”, lent his talents to outstanding nonprofits like Brainfood, and was in demand as a speaker across the country. He even trounced Bobby Flay and had a stint on The Food Network.
Chef Teddy had chops — and we don’t just mean on the grill.
So why did this Superman go around Charleston introducing himself as Clark Kent? For the love of Southern cooking, and a desire to learn it authentically through hard-work and direct experience.
THE CALL OF THE SOUTH
Chef Teddy’s appreciation for Southern cuisine had its genesis when he apprenticed in D.C. under James Beard Award-winner Ann Cashion, who was originally from Mississippi. His interest turned full-tilt after a visit to Nashville with friends, including one who had a knack for Southern food and beverage. The chef shares, “Adam had us try the hot chicken there and it was life changing, the best thing I’d ever tasted.” The two conceived a new business venture for D.C., called Maison Dixon Hot Chicken.
An exploratory road trip was in order, as part of their research. Chef Teddy reminisces, “We ate and drank our way through Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Nashville, and Louisville meeting with impassioned chefs keeping the Southern traditions alive. From fine restaurants to meat-and-threes to dive bars we wanted to taste everything worth trying. We got to experience true Gullah Geechee food, the roots of Southern cooking. Based on those travels we came up with a menu, preparing everything the Southern way: with bacon fat, greens, vinegar, salt and pepper, and little bit of brown sugar. It brings out a completely different flavor profile you can’t resist.”
A NEW CHAPTER IN CHARLESTON
Maison Dixon launched as a pop-up in 2015 and had a great run, but plans for a brick and mortar fell through. At the same time, Chef Teddy’s wife (who was also his partner in three restaurants) was ready for a career shift from a stressful government job. It was time for a change. He elaborates, “Charleston was always our happy place. Whenever we had a couple days off we would come down here. Out of convenience, we started renting an apartment, and within two months moved permanently! We went from pigeons, rats, and squirrels to alligators, dolphins, and turtles. That’s a good trade. And I was excited to take a step back and stake out a new path.”