Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 66

OCTOBER 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY “You can do a work of art with paints or clay, or even Play-Doh, for that matter,” Weatherford’s Heather Jundt Bullard said. “And there’s no use for it afterwards, outside of [being] something to look at. I get to make something absolutely stunning and beautiful, yet, it’s edible and people are like, ‘You can eat that!’ To me that’s exciting, and it’s a double whammy when you make something absolutely gorgeous and eye-catching and when [people] eat it, it tastes even better than it looks.” Heather, who is 39 until Christmas Day, is quite up-front about being persnickety when it comes to her edible artwork. She is the “Short Chef” in Short Chef Creations of Weatherford and no amount of lingering over detail is too much. She and partner Jennifer Hankins Lundy cater and operate the Short Chef Coffee House and Bistro in the 100 block of College Avenue downtown. The centerpiece melons she carves for weddings and other settings are meticulously carved and embellished with hearts and rosettes, names and logos, just about anything. She calls them “showstoppers” and they do seem to grab the spotlight, drop a few jaws. The premise is that if you can dream it up, Heather can bring it to three-dimensional life. “There isn’t anything I can’t carve into a melon,” she said. The inevitable question is how did she get mixed up with melons? “It started with my kids wanting me to do 3-D pumpkins one year,” she said after a peal of contagious laughter. “I got out an Exacto knife and started carving and thought, ‘This is kinda cool. I can do this.’” Indeed. And after 10 years she can do it really well. She referred to food art as her refuge. “I’m dyslexic, and school was really, really hard for me growing up,” she explained. “So I buried myself in the fine arts, so I was in music and singing and dance and art classes and a lot of that kind of stuff. That’s what got me through school when I was a kid. If it had to do with art I was in it.” As one might rightly suppose, choosing a decent watermelon to turn into art is job one, and, according to Heather, good eating watermelons and good carving watermelons are two different things. “If I’m eating it, I look at its webbing and [to see] if it has a really good, prominent yellow spot. That means it has ripened a lot longer on the ground and it’s a much sweeter melon. If I’m going for melon carving, I’m going to find one that has the darkest skin with no yellow spots and great lines.” We’re talking a solid green beauty with no rind design or 64 blemishes of any kind. “I want it totally unripe,” she added with another spurt of laughter. As the Bible says, “A laborer is worthy of his hire.” Compensation for the Short Chef’s melon work is not too bad, though many hours of tedious work (8-18 hours apiece) is involved. “They’re definitely paying for it,” she said. “For basic but beautiful the price is around $200. If it’s a personalized melon you’re looking at around $380.” Heather’s accent and the obvious lack of prolonged vowel sounds in her speech let you know she’s from elsewhere, North Dakota, in fact. It was in Fargo that she befriended her now best friend and business partner Jennifer, who lived behind her Indian restaurant. Oh, by the way, Heather is a master curry chef. “Her husband had a job welding up there for a brief period, and our kids played together because she lived right behind my restaurant, and my kids were up there all the time,” Heather explained. “She and I have been friends for nearly 12 years. When she moved back down here we kept in touch.” After a year, Jennifer finally convinced her friend, who’d sold her restaurant and started working in the catering industry, to leave the frozen tundra for Texas. “She did, and I’m glad,” said Heather. “I wouldn’t want to raise my kids anywhere else; this Continued on page 89