Innovative Chef Eric Rivera Brings Pop-Up Dinner Club to Raleigh

Former Seattle chef Eric Rivera is bringing a unique pop-up dinner club to Raleigh.

Trying to pigeonhole chef Eric Rivera into one cuisine, one business venture or even one city is like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey—except the donkey is ricocheting around the room. And that’s what makes his new private dining club, Forknife, so intriguing.

Eric Rivera and Emahlea Wilcher
Eric Rivera and Emahlea Wilcher

The invite-only pop-up dinner series will host a series of family-style events in Raleigh starting Feb. 10–17. Only two dinner slots are available per night, each seating up to six people.

Although events will be based on a theme—such as Puerto Rican BBQ and pasta—no meal will be the same. So, essentially, there’s 50 unique dining experiences to enjoy between February and April alone, with more to come.

“I purposely try to forget,” says Rivera of his ever-changing menus. “I aim to give people flavors they’ve never had.”

Rivera is frank about his process on the Forknife website, which is password protected: “I do not share menus ahead of time, nor will I make a dish that you had that one time at that one place. Let me do my thing please. It’s rad for me, and you’ll all be better off.”

This same unpredictability was the backbone of his former Seattle-based restaurant, Addo, which earned him the title of 2018 Chef of the Year from Eater Seattle. Addo has now morphed into a full-fledged tour, keeping Rivera on the road for the last year. The renegade chef has built quite the following across the country, hosting pop-ups in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, DC, Puerto Rico and Raleigh.

With Raleigh as his new homebase, Rivera’s wayfaring mind is making an extended pitstop in the Triangle, where he plans to open a double concept space—essentially two restaurants in one—later this year. He’s also introducing a delivery-only online market that offers a handful of cooking staples, including his sazon spice blend, hot sauces and dried pasta. 

But if you really want to get to know Rivera, Forknife is a great place to start. He not only cooks but also serves the food, giving guests a chance to chat with the chef in a fun, low-key setting.

“I am presenting food in a chill environment,” says Rivera. “People can come as they are.” So how do you get a seat at Rivera’s table? Send him an email (really) and grab five of your closest friends for a night of good food, good tunes and good vibes.

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.