Chef Eric Fulkerson is living the culinary dream
What could possibly drive an individual to choose a career that torturously provides long hours, meager wages, back aching work, and requires a decade of sacrifice before anyone even starts taking you seriously? The delectable aromas wafting from Chef Eric Fulkerson’s kitchen could answer that question all on their own.
Since October of 2013, Chef Eric has acted as the executive chef of Cleveland’s Bald Headed Bistro. He has a long history in the kitchen. “I’ve never made money doing anything else besides cooking,” he says as we sit down to a plate of smoked wild boar belly. Tonight, the decorated chef is offering a six-course wine pairing featuring Bergevin Lane Winery out of Walla Walla, Washington. He’s paired the belly, which is doused in a blackberry and Luxardo Cherry reduction, with a 2012 “Wild Child” Merlot.
“This is my favorite pairing of the night,” he explains. “Keep some of the meat in your mouth and take a sip of the wine. It’s exquisite.” The distinct smoke of the cut blends delightfully with the cedar and berry notes of the beautiful, deeply red wine.
The smoke comes from Eric’s new toy. He was recently chosen as a chef partner of Big Green Egg. He now has two of the famous grills and uses them every chance he gets.
Being a successful executive chef is about more than just knife skills and frou-frou technique. Chef Eric spends a lot of time creating a brand. He sees himself as an ambassador of his community. Much more than just a chef, Eric is a businessman, a beverage enthusiast, a public figure and spokesman, a photographer, and (perhaps his favorite) a teacher.
Not only does he run the restaurant’s seasonal menu, he also offers monthly supper clubs, guest chef dinners, special patio cookouts, wine and beverage tastings throughout the Southeast, and competes in cooking competitions.
For hardcore food fans, he offers a private dining “Chef’s Table.” Six to seven courses are prepared and served personally by the chef in the restaurant’s kitchen. He takes reservations in advance for the feast, as it requires the ordering of special ingredients. “This is my favorite thing to do. It’s where I really get to shine,” says Eric.
It has been a whirlwind year for Chef Fulkerson. He competed in the Chefs Taste Challenge in New Orleans and Chattanooga’s Cast Iron Cook Off. He has been invited to the 2018 World Chef Competition, and presented demonstrations on the local news.
Early next year, the Bald Headed Bistro will join the Kobe Beef Association. They will be one of just thirteen restaurants in the country to have this prestigious certification. When asked about his greatest achievement to date, Eric doesn’t even blink. In July he was invited to cook at the world famous James Beard House in New York City.
The Bald Headed Bistro is open Monday through Saturday for dinner service. You can follow them on Facebook for updates about their special events. Check out Chef Eric on Instagram at @cheffulk