Ray’s Killer Creek Chef at Home
Alpharetta residents know that the place to go for a classic night out is Ray’s at Killer Creek. However, what they may not know is that the chef behind the delicious offerings at the high-end restaurant is also a father. Like many chefs in the industry, Mike Fuller works grueling days with long hours that can extend into the wee hours of the morning. He wears many different hats, though, and outside of work is the father to his 15-year-old son, Michael.
Growing up in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Fuller started working in restaurants in high school. He became so fond of cooking, that he pursued it as a career and has been doing it for over 20 years. Before landing in Atlanta he worked at restaurants in Charleston and Nashville and gained experience in sleek restaurants like McKendrick’s and Del Frisco’s. After serving as chef de cuisine at the other Ray’s outposts, he was promoted to executive chef at Ray’s at Killer Creek.
With such long days it can be hard to find a compromise between being a chef and a dad. So how does Fuller do it?
He credits the well-run business at Ray’s for making the dual role of “chef dad” a bit easier. Fuller once opened a brand new restaurant that was wrought with challenges and even longer-than-usual hours. “It’s more stable being at Ray’s. It takes a long time to get a crew trained,” Fuller explains. Ray’s crew was incredibly well trained when he came on board, making it easier for him to step into his new role. Having such a great staff gives him some flexibility with his schedule he may not otherwise have, allowing for more time with his son than he had in previous roles.
He takes advantage of the free time he gets, because as a chef dad, he says, “Time is the biggest challenge.” One of his priorities when he has free time is cheering Michael on at baseball games. “I spend every weekend at his baseball games.” You can also find him chaperoning one of Michael’s field trips, with recent excursions to Camp Highlands and the science museum.
Having such limited time together means Fuller makes the most of the time they do spend. Activities that may be mundane for more traditional households take on more meaning for them, like watching television. “We watch the Walking Dead; it’s a big to-do for us.”
So, does Michael want to be a chef like his dad when he grows up? Laughing, Fuller says, “No, he’s too smart for that.” While it may not be Michael’s career path, the two do share a mutual love of food. Michael loves to visit Fuller at work for a ribeye with macaroni and cheese. They are at a bit of an impasse when it comes to meals on Fuller’s days off, though. “I always want to try a new place, but he usually just wants a home-cooked meal.”
Being a chef and a father isn’t easy. Spending so much time away from his son, though, allows Fuller to treasure the moments they are together. Striking a work life and father life balance makes him a successful chef dad.