Eric Fulkerson joined the restaurant in October after previously serving as the chef de cuisine at Reynolds’ Plantation Creek Club, a development on Lake Oconee located east of Atlanta, since December 2008.
He is a graduate of the Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.
Prior to joining Reynolds Plantation, Fulkerson was Sous Chef at Osprey Point Restaurant at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
The chef’s love for cooking can be traced back to his childhood growing up in Knoxville.
“Some of my favorite memories revolve around my grandmother’s kitchen,” he said. “She would cook us the most amazing, delicious meals at night, and then the next morning I would wake up on the couch that was outside of the kitchen, and I could hear her singing to herself while she washed the dishes.”
Fulkerson’s approach to cuisine changed dramatically in 2011, when he decided he could no longer accept being overweight.
He adopted a healthy diet and exercise plan and dropped from 305 pounds to a slim figure. His mission since the transformation has been to help others eat healthy, even if they don’t realize the foods they consume are good for them.
The chef said he and Bistro founder Allan Jones agree that Cleveland is a city with something for everyone.
“We both have a passion for local, regional and seasonal food,” said Fulkerson. “We want Cleveland to be the best it can be.”
Fulkerson replaces the recently retired Executive Chef Williams “Bick” Johnson, who had helmed the Bistro’s kitchen since it opened in September 2004.
Josh Weekley, the Bistro’s vice president and general manager, said Fulkerson’s energetic approach to cuisine will help ensure Bistro patrons come back for repeat visits.
“The Bistro has always been popular for the creativity of our menu, and Eric is already taking it to the next level,” said Weekley. “Our team has worked hard to earn a reputation as one of the nation’s most sophisticated high-end restaurants, and we know our fans expect the very best every time. Eric understands the expectations and looks forward to the challenge. The Bistro stage is as big as it gets — everyone is watching.”
Celebrities who have dined at the Bistro include the cast of the popular television program, “Leave It to Beaver.” Other notables include Peyton Manning, Pat Summitt and Phillip Fulmer, as well as television reporter Orlando Salinas, Bruce Pearl, Marla Maples, Ricky Skaggs, comedian Willie P. Richardson, golf legend Paul Azinger and David Oreck.
“You never know who you are going to see sitting at the table across from you … and that is part of the magic,” Weekley said. “We like to think that a night at the Bistro is something our guests can cherish forever.”
Fulkerson is no stranger to cooking for celebrities, as he previously prepared a lunch for Laura Bush and catered an event for former President George W. Bush.
The restaurant’s menu infuses the flavors and style of Jackson Hole, Wyo., into a charming Southern setting, said Weekley.
The Bistro’s signature dish is the BHB Filet, a prime tenderloin rubbed with a secret blend of herbs and spices cooked over a hickory, wood-fired rotisserie. The tenderloin is then cut into 6 or 8-ounce portions, placed on the wood-burning grill and cooked to the diner’s individual specifications, and topped with beurre monte just before serving.
“All beef is USDA Midwestern Beef and aged for 28 days,” Weekley said. “There is no compromise. Our guests want the best, and we give them the best every night. Now that we have Eric on board, the sky is limit. We truly feel like we can accomplish anything. The success we have experienced is just the beginning.”
Fulkerson has a wife, Kerrie, and three sons - Ethan, Ryan and Andrew.
The Bald Headed Bistro is located at 201 Keith Street in the Village Green Town Center.