A native New Yorker who trained under a James Beard chef, dominated the Washington DC food scene and has even thrown down with Bobby Flay and competed on season 5 of The Next Food Network Star, Chef Teddy Folkman arrived at Timbers Kiawah with an impressive resume. But it’s his love of place that really makes him stand out. The biggest influences on his cooking are not where he’s been but where he is right now. He tailors his food to the season, his location and his audience. And right now, it’s spring in the Lowcountry and he’s cooking to surprise and delight the families at Timbers Kiawah.
We caught up with Chef Teddy on southern food and his inspiration for the seasonally inspired menu at Timbers Kiawah.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
My style of cooking comes from taking dishes that people are familiar with, comfort foods, and putting my own personal twist on them. Whether it is playful, or adding a refined, fine dining touch to it, the integrity and tradition of the dish always remains.
What inspires you when you are creating new dishes?
What inspires me comes from two totally different places. First is the “wow” factor. It is conceptualizing a dish and then coming up with a way to make it pop. Whether that is a textural component, ingredient, or something visual, there is nothing more rewarding then having someone take a bite of your food and say “wow.” The second are the people around me. I always like to create my menus with the input of my staff and my wife. My staff, to give them pride in cooking dishes that they are a part of, and my wife, because no one is more honest when it comes to my ideas.
What do you love about the food program at Timbers Kiawah?
There is so much to love! We source a lot of our ingredients from local farmers. Most everything is made from scratch. We don’t take short cuts. For example, instead of just roasting our pork, we brine it for 48 hours and then slow smoke it over hickory for 8 hours. We are environmentally conscious. And finally, we have fun.
What are the keys to southern cooking?
Understand where the dish came from, take the extra time and steps, and treat each part of the cooking process, equally as important as the next.
What local ingredients are you using at Timbers Kiawah?
Currently, our tomatoes, pork butt, bacon, chicken breast, chicken wings, shrimp, ground beef, blue cheese, honey, coffee, tea… it will change with the season.
What are your favorite dishes at Timbers Kiawah?
My favorite dishes right now are our hickory smoked wings with house made hot sauce, and our biscuits and gravy, served only during Sunday brunch.
Do you always add your own spin on classic southern dishes?
I do add my own spin on classic southern dishes, but not all the time. Sometimes, just doing it the way it was meant to be made, is the only way.
Owners can join Chef Teddy at our Friday Afternoon Cooking Club from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Beach Club to gather, socialize and get the lowdown on Lowcountry cuisine and some of Chef Teddy’s favorite dishes.