A chef has returned from the competition of a lifetime in New Orleans, where he was a part of the prestigious Chef’s Taste Challenge.
Bald Headed Bistro Executive Chef Eric Fulkerson participated in the event that was designed to broaden awareness for the use of healthy, sustainable ingredients - and was by invitation only to the top 10 chefs in the Southeast.
“It was incredibly exciting because I was going against the best of the best and we were all using farm-to-table ingredients for hundreds of people,” said Mr. Fulkerson, who will celebrate his fourth year at the Bistro, located in Cleveland, in October. “Just to be invited was a huge deal because it’s only the top 10 chefs. I applied in March and never heard anything and then one day the phone rang and – wow!”
Mr. Fulkerson says the trip to New Orleans was also a chance to connect with family and revisit old memories.
“New Orleans has always been in my blood,” he said. “My grandmother was born there and my uncle lived in Gulf Port, so every summer as kids we loved to travel there.”
Prior to the New Orleans competition, Mr. Fulkerson had already enjoyed a busy year. Aside from his duties at the Bistro, he participated in the Winemaker Dinner at Vine Vault in Atlanta and at the Pick Tennessee dinner in Ooletewah.
Mr. Fulkerson also participated in two Southern Wing Showdowns this year – one in New York’s Greenwich Village at the world-renowned James Beard House as part of its Southern Wing Showdown.
The Beard event brought Mr. Fulkerson and seven other chefs from Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah and Charlotte together for one exclusive night of Southern-inspired cuisine.
“The James Beard House is one of America’s culinary institutions,” Mr. Fulkerson said. “It is a very surreal experience to receive the invitation to cook there. The path that James Beard traveled during his career paved the way for the future of American cuisine. There is no expression that fully encompasses his contribution to a very important part of our lives. Dining, food, wine, and the memories that go in hand in hand with those activities are not only important parts of our personal lives, but mark historic moments in history as well.”
Mr. Fulkerson’s upcoming schedule includes unveiling the Bistro’s new fall menu and participating in two events at the Sunday Chattanooga Market – the Cast Iron Cook-Off and the legendary Scenic City “Best Wings” competition. He will also compete in Atlanta’s Mac & Cheese Festival on Oct. 7 (Mr. Fulkerson earned the 2nd Place trophy there in 2016).
“Traveling is something I enjoy because it allows me to showcase not only what I can do but also – more importantly – what the Bald Headed Bistro is all about,” he says.
Mr. Fulkerson trained at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C. Shortly after completing his studies he assumed the role of sous chef for Osprey Point on Kiawah Island, S.C. He later served as chef de cuisine at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia before making the transition to executive chef at the Bald Headed Bistro in Cleveland.
Mr. Fulkerson has cooked for President George W. Bush, T. Boone Pickens, and dozens of Fortune 500 executives.
The Bald Headed Bistro in Cleveland plays host to award-winning chefs and winemakers from across the country. The restaurant specializes in wild game and steaks.
To make reservations, visit OpenTable.com or call 472-6000. You may also visit www.baldheadedbistro.com.