Bonanno landed at Mizuna after a four year stay at Mel’s Bar and Grill, where he met his original business partner Doug Fleischmann. Mel’s provided Bonanno a stretch at The French Laundry, where he whet an appreciation for fresh, locally grown items at the peak of their flavor. His ability to prepare those ingredients with speed and finesse were honed at New York eatery Gramercy Tavern. At Mizuna, Bonanno says “The cooking is inspired by classic French techniques, but with the simplicity of great American fare.”
Two years after the hugely popular Mizuna opened, Luca D’Italia celebrated an inaugural Valentine’s Day, where Bonanno notes that again, “The quality and freshness of the ingredients speak for themselves.” Bonanno honed Luca’s trademark breads and fresh rolled pastas working in Italy’s Albergo Ristorante. Flour, water, and first press olive oil evolve into appetizer portions of paparadelle, agnolotti, and gnocchi; tagliatelle, orecchiette, and mezzaluna—each creation gently tossed with intense, aromatic sauces.
Although Bonanno loves the high-end fare offered at Mizuna and Luca d’Italia, he found it frustrating that “so many people come in for special occasions only. Denver really needed a restaurant that offers quality and freshness, but at an accessible price point.” So Bonanno worked to open the highly acclaimed downtown spot Osteria Marco, housed on historic Larimer Square. Designed to be the little brother to Luca, here Bonanno uses his grandmother’s techniques to cure scamorza, guanciale, copocollo, bresaola. Marco also offers up house-crafted, cheeses, hand tossed pizzas, and an aggressive artisan cocktail program in keeping with Bonanno’s culinary philosophy that “a great meal consists of two primary components: exceptional ingredients and care.”
After printing the Mizuna Cookbook Bonanno began combined his second great obsession—golf—with his love for food. Frank planned the restaurant and the menu at the Tom Doake designed hunt-golf club Ballyneale in Holyoke, Colorado; and two years later, when the corner spot between his original two eateries, a spot that had been a forlorn, longtime overlooked and abused coffee shop, was abandoned yet again, Bonanno saw another opportunity.
Bones (his high-school nick-name) opened with the New Year of 09 —a tight and tiny American stylized noodle bar. “Bones and Osteria Marco have this amazing talent on their lines. My very best chefs from Luca and Mizuna see opening a restaurant and experimenting with a new type of menu as a challenge, a welcome change—so I—and anyone lucky enough to stop in—get the benefit of a pool of the best chefs in the city. I personally get the extra fortune of four lines to step onto, four distinctly different types of cuisine to play with and hone on a daily basis.”
While the “star” at every Bonanno eatery is the food, there is a final feature that makes the dining experience exemplary. The teams. “Food is a way to express yourself and make people happy. Every member of our restaurant family is in this business because we love it. That’s why we do it. We know were going to serve seventy people dinner tonight, and the best way to do that,” he says smiling, “is with passion.”
And yes you’ve heard it before - farm to table bistro. But with chef Eric Skokan, this is not a supply truck making daily deliveries, this guy literally has his hands in the dirt. Chef Skokan owns his own farm, which supplies the majority of what he cooks at the Black Cat in Boulder, Colorado - free-range chickens, ducks, quail, hogs and a variety of organic produce. He also takes a farm stand at the Boulder County Farmer's Market.
Chef Skokan learned about sustainable, organic cooking from one of the pioneers in the field, Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C.
After Washington, Skokan worked briefly in San Francisco, followed by eight years at the Gold Lake Mountain Resort and Spa in Ward, Colorado. He moved to Boulder to open the organic ice cream place, Hatton Creamery, and in October of 2007, chef Skokan opened the Black Cat.
Chef Ann Cooper is a celebrated author, chef, educator, and enduring advocate for better food for all children. In a nation where children are born with shorter estimated life expectancies than their parents because of diet-related illness, Ann is a relentless voice of reform by focusing on the links between food, family, farming and children's health and wellness.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY, Ann has been a chef for more than 30 years including positions with Holland America Cruises, Radisson Hotels, Telluride Ski Resort as well as serving as Executive Chef at the renowned Putney Inn in Vermont. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time Magazine and has appeared on NPR's 'Living on Earth,' ABC's Nightline, CNN, PBS' To The Contrary and the CBS Morning Show and many other media outlets. Ann has shared her knowledge and experience by speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the Heifer Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and numerous conferences. She has been honored by SLOW Food USA, selected as a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, and awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture.
Ann is the author of four books: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children (2006), In Mother's Kitchen: Celebrated Women Chefs Share Beloved Family Recipes (2005), Bitter Harvest: A Chef's Perspective on the Hidden Dangers in the Foods We Eat and What You Can do About It (2000) and A Woman's Place is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Chefs (1998). She is past president of The American Culinary Federation of Central Vermont, and past president and board member of Women's Chefs and Restaurateurs. She also served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board, a Congressional appointment, and was an Executive Committee member of Chefs Collaborative - all in an effort to raise awareness about the value of healthful, seasonal, organic, and regional foods.
Ann's research for and writing of A Bitter Harvest provided a true epiphany for this always curious and proactive chef. No longer could the environmental and health facts be ignored when it came to producing food in this country. Ms Cooper's career shifted from primarily cooking to a path of cooking, writing, and public speaking – all advocacy work for a healthier food system. There is no doubt that Ann is an accomplished chef; however, her focus is now on using her skills and background to create a sustainable model for schools nationwide to transition any processed food based K-12 school meal program to a whole foods environment where food is procured regionally and prepared from scratch. In 2009, Ann founded Food Family Farming Foundation (F3) as a nonprofit focusing on solutions to the school food crisis. F3's pivotal project is The Lunch Box - a web portal that provides free and accessible tools, recipes and community connections to support school food reform.
Chef Ann is happily working overtime as a Chef, Nutrition Services Director, Consultant, Author, Public Speaker, and Advocate because she sees a need for change and has the gifts to help. She envisions a time soon when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food will no longer be considered "renegade."
Samm was attracted to Root Down because of its food to fork philosophy and made the natural transition to oversee pastry for both restaurants.
“I wanted to be in a forward-thinking, Colorado-focused restaurant,” said Samm, who is especially proud of the Chocolate Coconut Pie, which she says is ‘freaking delicious’.
Before joining Root Down and Linger, Samm created vegan and gluten-free pastries at Denver’s WaterCourse Foods. She also crafted chocolates at Seth Ellis Chocolates in Boulder.
Samm is a 2008 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, where she received a certificate in baking and pastry. She also holds a Spanish degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Samm was named one of Tasting Tables’ Best Pastry Chefs of 2012 and received the Judges’ Award and People’s Choice Award for Best Dessert at the 12th Annual Beaujolais and Beyond Festival. Her black currant Noosa yogurt pie, featuring an animal cracker crust, was lauded by the judges for playing “perfectly off the fruitiness of the wine”. Linger has also been named a Top Ten Dessert Spot by Westword.A native of Arizona, Samm resides in Denver with her husband Kent and beautiful dog Lilah.
Seeking a change of pace, Cucci headed to Key West to open two successful restaurants over 10 years with kitchen positions at The Beehive, where he was fired after his first day (but rehired after persistently showing up at the restaurant on a daily basis), and Aix in Denver, in between. Here he saw the importance of connecting a neighborhood to a dining experience in the same way ingredients are connected to the food. Cucci moved to Denver permanently in 2008 and opened Root Down, a restaurant known for its accessible and inclusive culinary sophistication. Root Down has gained a loyal following and much critical acclaim for its globally inspired seasonal cuisine. Like Linger, Root Downs menu is community-driven and vegetable-focused.