Eric Heath Destroys a Giant Vase and Bans Death Metal in His Kitchen: A Q&A with the Cleveland-Heath Chef

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Keep Eric Heath away from this Ming vase. | image via
Keep Eric Heath away from this Ming vase. | image via

What's the strangest thing that's every happened to you at a restaurant?We were at a place in Salt Lake City called Forage. They have only a tasting menu. It's a nice little space. We were excited. A lot of the fine dining in Salt Lake is really old-school. So you walk up to the front door of this little house. If the front door's closed, [a sign] says, "Please use side door." But they had this giant four-and-a-half-foot tall glass vase holding the door open. So we were like, "This is the front door."

It had to be 100 degrees in there. We're like, "What the hell's going on?" So we walk in and the door closes behind me and slams, and the whole four-and-a-half-foot vase explodes all over the place, and makes the most awful racket. There's 30 people in the dining room, and everybody turns and looks at us. It's not an open kitchen, but you can see the chef and his cooks in there looking at me like they're going to kill me. I'm sure it was an expensive vase.

So I'm sitting there just as red as can be, and it's 100 degrees, and we're sweating on the table, and I can see the owner-chef looking at us like, "That asshole." Our server tells us the hood system went out, and the AC went out. We thought: fuck it, we're just going to eat, we're going to have a good time, and we actually ended up having a really good time.

What does St. Louis need more of? More awesome, easy-going foods. The big push right now here is for the fine dining -- the tasting menus, the use of Cvap [ovens] and sous vide, and all that. That's great, and I love it. But when we go out to eat dim sum or Korean barbecue or whatever, that's the kind of the experience we want. It's easy, it's simple, no one's expectations are through the roof, no one's sitting there criticizing it. It's just a fun time. We're out with each other.

This is part two of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Eric Heath of Cleveland-Heath. Read part one, a profile of Heath, here. Part three, a recipe from Heath, will be available on Friday.

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