On Eli Kulp And The Remaking Of Fork

Eli Kulp came to Philadelphia with a helluva resume. Most recently, he was the chef de cuisine at Torrisi Italian Specialties in Manhattan. He did time in the kitchen at the Batali/Bastianich super-Italian collaboration restaurant Del Posto, at La Fonda del Sol and Casa Lever.

And when he hit the ground here in the City of Brotherly Love, he stepped straight into a pair of big clogs–taking command of Ellen Yin’s Fork from Terrence Feury and making not too big a deal out of it at all.

At least until now.

Today, word came down that Kulp will be launching a complete remaking of the Fork dining experience starting on Monday, October 1. And we’re not talking about some “oh, we’re still going to be doing appetizers, but now we’re going to call them small plates and charge twice as much” kind of thing, but a real and fundamental change to the way people eat at Fork.

The highlights:

  • The House Menu will offer “a fixed price menu that will offer diners the opportunity to choose from among the chef’s wealth of new dishes and customize their own multi-course supper.”
  • Whole Animal Feasts for Two will feature “fish, poultry and game, prepared whole and served for two guests to share with seasonal accompaniments.”
  • A new a la carte menu that will change with the seasons (or the whims of the kitchen) and allow the crew to take advantage frequently throughout the year, allowing the crew to offer “the best of what the mid-Atlantic has to offer, all year round,” according to Kulp.

Oh, and then there’s this–straight from the release announcing the new plan:

When guests choose the House Menu, Chef Kulp will add several surprise elements, not available on the menu to each meal. Ideal for single diners who want to experience a wide range of dishes, as well as couples and larger groups who hope to sample the entire menu – or enjoy extra portions of the plates that appeal to them most – these multi-course menus are sure to be one of the season’s most talked-about meals, putting guests in control of their dining experience while still allowing the gifted chef to showcase his favorite selections. The House Menu will be available nightly for $65 per person.

So three fully new menus, one of which is both customizable and surprise-y, another nose-to-tail, all with seasonal changes? Yeah, that’s not insane at all

We also know some details about what Kulp has in mind for specific dishes. He’s looking at doing everything from charred eggplant and stracciatella toasts to peeky toe crab and sea urchin on toast with pickled jalapeño; from smoked pumpkin tortellini with brown butter, sage and walnuts to pork jowl ravioli; from roasted squab and dry-aged Guinnea hen to baked potatoes oven-roasted in the soil in which they were grown–because you just ain’t cooking farm-to-table unless you’re straight-up cooking with dirt.

Fork is also getting an interior makeover, but seriously? Once some guy talks about roasting soil, the conversation is pretty much over. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what this guy can do, so no matter how crazy I think he’s being, I’ll still be there to check it out.

And something tells me I won’t be the only one.

Fork [Official website]