Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Eric Brannon serves up more than your average meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Since Ted’s opened a little more than a year ago, the chef has been serving up comfort food reminiscent of mom’s cooking but with more flair at Ted’s Bulletin in Eastern Market.

“I’m cooking food that gives you memories,” he says. “It’s so rewarding to have people come up to you and say, ‘This is like how my mom made it.’ It pays homage to folks at home.” For Brannon, his cooking is about revamping the simple and attainable classics, which is still a challenge.

The restaurant’s homemade pop tarts and adult (read: liquor-laced) milkshakes have generated worthy buzz around the city. This year the restaurant was nominated for a RAMMY as one of 2011′s Best Neighborhood Gathering Places, one of the few public vote categories. And he says new milkshakes, pop tarts and some fun entrées such as a Texas style brisket will be making their debut on the menu this spring.

Photo courtesy of
‘Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

In keeping with the theme of revamping classic dishes, Brannon says he aims to be true to the food and not glamorize the dishes. “I want someone to be able to taste everything in that’s in a dish,” he says. “I aim to have three or four flavor profiles and keep it simple. If you eat something and are searching for the flavors, it takes away from the natural beauty of the food.” He emphasizes the fact that keeping the dishes fresh and new is a necessity when making classics.

Like a lot of chefs, Brannon was inspired to cook by his dad. “He would get up at 5 am and start cooking. He would develop these seven course tastings and have 25 or 30 people over from the neighborhood,” he says. “He never worked in a restaurant. He just loved to cook. He really incorporated us into the kitchen. We didn’t hang out in the living room,” he jokes.

Photo courtesy of
‘Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Despite growing up in a household with a strong appreciation for cooking, Brannon started out in music school. After deciding that being a rock star wasn’t in the cards, he became a chef. He went onto work at McCormick & Schmicks in Pittsburgh before he moved to DC about three years ago. At Ted’s not only is he the executive chef, but he’s also the general manager, which presents interesting challenges of working both the front and back of the house. “It’s rewarding to interact with and take care of the guests,” he says. He added that it’s a challenge to juggle both responsibilities and solve different problems.

While he says he’s still learning more about DC, he has appreciated that the city’s restaurant scene has been largely recession proof. “A small, inspired restaurant owner can still do well here,” he says. He adds that the diversity in restaurant concepts is a big draw for the city and that he hopes to see more bistro concept restaurants pop up around town. “There’s a sense of community in DC. People are proud to be part of their neighborhoods. It has a hometown feel.”

Check back at 3 PM for Eric’s recipe for the Walk of Shame breakfast burrito. Make room in your stomach now; this is one serious burrito.

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at) welovedc.com.

3 thoughts on “Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 1)

  1. I would rather have you not share the walk of shame burrito recipe – if my husband thinks I can make it at home, I won’t have an excuse to come in for Pop Tarts every weekend. Ted’s is my FAVORITE restaurant – I adore everything about it! <3

  2. I go to Ted’s mainly for the decor, which is much more interesting than the food, so I’m more interested in hearing about how they set up the place. They really nailed all the details, down to the aluminum foil on the TV antennas, and I love taking my family from Philly and telling them the furniture was taken from the old convention center.

  3. Also, does anyone find it funny that they’re talking about minimal flavor profiles at a place where the burgers have fried eggs, coleslaw, onion rings, and all sorts of other things piled on top?