A devoted ostreaphile, Dylan Fultineer creates menus that bring out the best in both oysters and seasonal, regional ingredients at Rappahannock, the restaurant of Rappahannock Oyster Co. in Richmond, VA. Before opening the restaurant in December 2012, the executive chef first helped overhaul the menu at Merroir restaurant in Topping, VA, and designed the menu for Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C. Fultineer, however, has been buying the company’s sweet and buttery Rappahannock River oysters, mildly briny Stingray oysters, and bold ocean Olde Salt oysters for a decade. “I love everything about oysters,” he admits. “I love shucking them, I love eating them, and I love most of all that they taste like where they came from. They’re an amazing creature of the sea.”
Beyond making distinctive dishes showcasing native Virginian oysters, Fultineer seeks out other ingredients grown, raised, or caught near Central Virginia for his menu. He regularly visits the city farmers’ market for produce and sources local seafood and meat, including chickens raised in Richmond proper. “I’m really big on finding the best products I can, then building dishes based on what excited me,” he says. “It’s also about sharing with Richmonders just how easy and accessible it is to source locally—and how good it tastes.”
Originally from York, PA, Fultineer developed his lifelong interest in food from watching his Pennsylvania Dutch relatives cure meats and make sauerkraut. He apprenticed under James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Kahan at Blackbird in Chicago from 1999 to 2006. While there, the Chicago Tribune named him one of the top three sous chefs in the city. He then moved to Los Angeles to run the kitchen at the second location of The Hungry Cat by another James Beard Award winner, Chef Susanne Goin. During his stint in California, he not only developed a love of craft beer and food pairing when he cooked for the brewpub at Hollister Brewing Co., but he also acquired a deep appreciation of house-baked bread from working with the wood-fired oven at Full of Life Flatbread.
Fultineer has helped put Richmond on the map as a burgeoning culinary city and continues to earn recognition for his inventive seafood menus. Rappahannock Oyster Bar was featured in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Restaurant Openings of 2012” and in the Wall Street Journal as one of “5 Outstanding Oyster Bars Around the Country.” Rappahannock Restaurant was recognized locally by RVA News as one of the “Top 10 New Restaurants of 2012.”
The chef currently lives north of Richmond in Mechanicsville, VA, with his wife, Francesca, and daughter, Josephine. Outside of the kitchen, he can be found tending to his garden or out on a hunting excursion in the nearby forests.