"She's the bon vivant that finds herself at the thing you want to find yourself at. She's the life of the party. She's where you want to be," says chef Justin Fulton. "She" is Margot
, the tasting-menu concept that Fulton recently launched as a Sunday-only pop-up at Coperta
, restaurateur Paul C. Reilly's Italian eatery at 400 East 20th Avenue.
Fulton's entire career has led to this point. He grew up in Breckenridge and got his start in the industry as a busboy at the local Subway where his friends hung out. After graduating from high school with no concrete plans for the future, he moved with his mom back to her home state of North Carolina and eventually went to the local community college to register for a transfer program.
"When I was signing up, they asked what I had been doing," he recalls. His answer: restaurant work. It turned out that the school had a well-known culinary program, so he was encouraged to sign up for some classes. "It didn't take long for me to realize that's what I was supposed to be doing," Fulton says. "It clicked really hard. I excelled there."
Since then, he's built an impressive résumé, working at a variety of increasingly prestigious farm-to-table restaurants in North Carolina, spending a year in France as a private chef and moving on to gigs in Maine and then New York City, where he worked, among other places, at Daniel Boulud's Michelin-starred Daniel. After Fulton spent four years as the chef de cuisine at French Louie in Brooklyn, he and his wife decided to start a family. "I always said if I was going to have kids, I wanted to raise them in Colorado," he notes.
Citrus-cured salmon belly with fennel, sumac and salmon roe.
And so the soon-to-be-growing family left the city, landing first in Michigan, where their son was born. While there, Fulton worked on the opening team of Pernoi, a highly anticipated restaurant in Birmingham, just outside of Detroit. "Then COVID came and destroyed that dream for everyone," Fulton recalls.
Stuck in lockdown in Michigan, unable to see family and friends or enjoy the lake life, he and his wife decided to make the move to Colorado. Fulton landed a job at restaurateur Alex Seidel's Mercantile at Union Station and connected with Coperta owner Reilly while doing a Meals on Wheels charity event in Delaware last year. "We hit it off immediately," Fulton says.
After Fulton left Mercantile, Coperta chef Kenny Minton reached out, asking if he'd be interested in coming in to help while the restaurant's sous chef was out. "I fell in love with the space," Fulton remembers. After a few weeks, he reached out to Reilly with an idea.
"I was always going to come back to Colorado and open a restaurant here," he explains. "It's home. I'm always attached to this place." He'd long ago dubbed his fantasy restaurant "Margot," a name that evokes the kind of elegant but not stuffy experience he wanted to create. "I told Paul that I would love to see it come to life in that space, and he was so supportive," Fulton adds.
Visit Margot soon to catch tomatoes on the menu.
He's brought on his own staff to run the concept that has forty seats open for guests each Sunday evening; the first service was on September 18. "It was a pretty stellar night," Fulton says, adding that he's excited about the positive feedback on the food.
The experience costs $105 per person for a ten-course meal (though you can expect some additional surprises as well), with seatings beginning at 6:45 p.m. An optional wine pairing is also available.
"This is the most refined food that I could put on a plate, but it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable. There are no penguin suits," Fulton explains of his take on what he calls "technique-driven, seasonally inspired contemporary American." The dishes cross global cuisines, a reflection of the melting pot that is America. "I cook from the heart, and not really from a place," he says.
The menu will change with the seasons. Right now, tomatoes, corn and melons are at the forefront, though that will change very soon. The current menu is called "Capturing summer before the fall," he says, and he's utilizing many ingredients that he preserved earlier in the season.
Ultimately, Fulton would like to find investors to back a permanent brick-and-mortar space for Margot, but for now, he'll be at Coperta indefinitely. "We want you to come in and feel like you're in the heart of Brooklyn, eating food that will blow your mind," he concludes.