Winter Market Series: Chef Eric Wears More Than One Hat

Have you heard of Chef Eric? Have you ever felt like a rockstar in your own home? Do you love coffee and food and WINE? Well, I’ve got news for you! And it comes to you in the first of our Winter Market Vendor Series posts.

This is exciting for me. As much as I love the Barr Street Market, YLNI’s Winter Market has totally won me over. There’s something about scavenging through vendor’s booths at the Ash Center every other Saturday that just makes me happy. It’s like summer inside. Live music plays, the aroma of food and Fort Wayne’s finest food trucks simmers in the air. People are happy here. And the vendors just keep getting better and better.

Eric Braun

Chef Eric Braun

This week, my focus is on Chef Eric. A local celebrity in my book, I have seen his booth and heard his name mumbled fondly since I began writing for Living Fort Wayne. But the markets are only a small piece of the pie. Chef Eric Braun is a personal chef, author, consultant, TV host, entrepreneur, philanthropist and an all-out stand-up guy. I met with him recently over lunch. And, after sending back cold soup (we laughed about this since obviously, they didn’t know who they were serving) he talked candidly about what has brought him to this point in his very successful career.

Eric Braun wears much more than a chef hat. So the best way for me to explain is to highlight each of his endeavors individually.

Personal Chef

Chef Eric was born, raised, and now lives in a kitchen. Ok, not really. But it certainly seems that way. His parents owned and ran Snow White Kitchen on Creighton and Calhoun streets from 1949-1982. It was your classic diner, and had many followers. This is where he found his passion. When the diner closed, Chef Eric moved to Indy to start his own business. He has worked in food service operations, managing, teaching and (most importantly) cooking, his entire life.

Scallop

Pan seared scallops with corn relish

Ten years ago, Chef Eric and his family moved back to Fort Wayne. It was his aging parents and true love for family and connection that brought him home. It was his love for food that made him a personal chef. The years of brilliantly creating delicious dishes had put a toll on Chef Eric’s weight and health. He had to make some changes, so he lost 150 pounds. Of course, it wasn’t that easy. It required some serious lifestyle changes, specifically what, and how he ate. Well, naturally this wasn’t something he was willing to sacrifice. The answer came in “small bites”. Tapas, of course.

Duck meatballs with orange marmelade

Chef Eric was ahead of the trend, you could say. We know now that tapas (meaning small bites) is all the rage. But he saw it as not only an opportunity to make himself healthier, but a chance to introduce an old idea as something new to his fellow foodies. Kneedachef was created. Now, Chef Eric goes into clients’ homes and creates 4-7 course gourmet meals in true tapas style.

I like to make jokes about having my maid do my laundry. Or my butler let the dog out. Well, no joking…you can have your chef prepare your dinner. Kneedachef is a personal experience for you and up to 20 of your friends, in your own home, at your own table. He will meet with you before hand to establish your likes, dislikes and create a menu just for you. Then, once the event is scheduled he creates your meal right in your own kitchen. The aroma of each course fills your home as it’s cooking. Chef Eric and his team bring you a first class dining experience, complete with a personally designed tablescape and wine pairings. AND, they clean it all up.

Tropical_Tablescape_8338Kneedachef also offers services for larger parties, appetizer parties, cooking classes and more. While these services can come with a salty dollar amount, Chef Eric wants people to know that anyone can enjoy this luxury and should truly consider it for their next event. Check out their site for pricing as well as other options for a fun night out. A cooking class with friends and wine (plus dinner, of course) is only $30 per person. Appetizer parties are also a more economical option, and always different and fun.

Consultant

So, have you heard about Wine Down Tasting and Tapas yet? It’s the newest – and trendiest – restaurant to come to Fort Wayne. They will be located on the east corner of the Harrison and their doors are expected to open in March.  Their notoriety will come from a unique wine selection experience and a brand new tapas menu. Oh, and the menu will be written by Chef Eric. Owners of Wine Down caught on to Chef Eric’s tapas expertise as well as his true entrepreneurial knack and recruited him as their consultant in the start of their new venture. He will personally train their head chef and will even sell his own line of gourmet coffee, spice rubs, BBQ sauces and bourbon balls. Each of these items will also be included as ingredients in menu items and selected pairings.

Philanthropist

Finally, Chef Eric is a philanthropist. When you really love what you do, you want to share it with others. And, when you’re someone like Chef Eric, you find a way to do it by giving back to the community. Since 2005 Chef Eric and his team have helped raise over $96,000 for charitable organizations by donating seven course gourmet dinners to silent and live auctions. Only a few of those include: Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, National Kidney Foundation, Make A Wish, Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation, Women’s Enterprise Group…I could go on. And so will he. Chef Eric will proudly tell you that as long as he is able to cook, he will continue to give to great causes he believes in.

Find Chef Eric at our Winter Market, or visit him online at www.kneedachef.com. On his site you will find all the information you need on personal chef services, cooking classes, recipes, the gourmet food line, his TV show, even his cookbook. There is lots more to come from Chef Eric, and we at Living Fort Wayne look forward to it.

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Wendy Englehart

Author: Wendy Englehart

I'm a pretty easy person to get to know. Some suggested ice breakers include: IU Hoosiers, the elusive Shi Tzu, restaurants for foodies, cooking for foodies, wine and pretty much any kind of music. Oh, and Harry Potter.

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