Eric Hedrick is a 27-year-old Charlotte native, who went to Appalachian State for a degree in business and furniture design. But after working as a line cook and ultimately a sous chef at the popular British pub Six Pence in Blowing Rock, he quickly became addicted to the world of culinary arts — even lighting the occasional fun fire at work. After graduating from App State, Hedrick returned to Charlotte and enrolled himself in culinary school at Central Piedmont Community College, where he practiced and perfected his craft. Since then, he has worked as both a prominent chef and kitchen manager at some of the finest establishments in Charlotte, including Lucky Lou's Tavern (formerly Fairview Grill), where he currently wows diners with his unique culinary creations.
Creative Loafing: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to an aspiring chef?
Eric Hedrick: I would say, pay attention to where you are and what you're doing at all times. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, but not too many. The kitchen is a fast-moving place, and more often than not, you just have to roll with the punches and learn how to find solutions and answers on your own. You've also gotta learn to work well with other people because so much of this kind of work is based on the efficiency of the team as a whole. It's important that everybody do their individual job and do it well, but it's equally important to harmonize as a team.
Is it difficult to switch between being chef and kitchen manager? What task do you dislike the most as a kitchen manager?
Well, the two roles are interwoven, and for me, it's really about making sure that everyone on your team is getting the best out of the hard work that they're putting in. As a chef and a kitchen manager, it's about being a good team leader and a team player. The one thing that I don't really enjoy doing is scheduling. That's always a little bit of a challenge; you want to adhere to everyone's schedule and also make sure that all shifts are covered, and that everyone is getting the proper amount of shifts necessary.
What is your favorite dish to cook, and what are some examples of dishes that best describe your unique style?
Well, I'll start with two unique dishes that immediately pop into my head. We have a great one now on the Lucky Lou's menu — deep-fried pimento cheese fritters, which are served with a side of homemade smoked jelly. Another dish that comes to mind is a pretzel-encrusted chicken topped with a sweet mustard bourbon glaze. I'm a big fan of Southern comfort food, and my favorite dish to make is pork tenderloin. We pretty much make everything in-house, and I get to dabble in creating a cool spectrum of everything from upscale bar foods to everyone's favorite comfort food dishes. It's a good time.