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Celebrity Chef Tour Benefiting the James Beard Foundation, Denver, November 18, 2010
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Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202

November, 18 2010

7:00 PM

PRICE: $150 per person inclusive
Tickets available October 7, 2010

Visa Signature Price:  $130 per person inclusive
Visa Signature® tickets available October 4, 2010

HOST VENUE - Osteria Marco

Osteria Marco, named for the youngest Bonanno son, opened its doors just in time to celebrate Marco's fourth birthday in October, 2007. Chef-proprietor Frank Bonanno wanted to complement his highly successful high-end Italian eatery, Luca d'Italia (named for the older Bonanno boy) by offering a little brother—a more playful version of Luca d'Italia, but with the same artisan spirit and impeccable service.

Wide striped black and white awnings greet passersby as both a tribute to the original grocer's shop that stood at 1453 Larimer in the 1880's and as a nod to the traditional bold butchers' cloth. Pigs—in metal on the street and in canvas as within the osteria—were crafted by Denver artist Quang Ho and ironsmith Michael Mancerella, not only as additional tribute to the butcher (and the wares found within Osteria Marco) but to bring luck and good fortune to all who enter.

With our classic hand-tossed Italian pizza, extensive and accessible wine selection, house crafted meats and cheeses, and rustic elegance—Marco carries on the tradition of a classic osteria—a place where an upscale chef might flip a few pizzas; where great food, fabulous wine, and laughing friends connect to experience the Italian table.

RESTAURANT - Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's, Denver CO

Matt Selby is the community driven chef behind the critically acclaimed restaurants Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's Food Service in Denver, Colorado.   One of Denver's few native chefs, Chef Selby has been at the helm at Vesta since 1997.  Over the past ten years, Vesta has consistently been named one of Denver's "Ten Best Restaurants" helping to launch Matty's reputation as one of Denver's top chefs while he was still in his twenties.  Steuben's, while only one year old, has been named "Best New Restaurant", and made its debut on the "top ten" lists as well.  At twenty-two years old, most cooks aren't ready to supervise themselves, never mind a kitchen full of cooks. Now, at age 32, after nine years as Executive Chef, Matt Selby has done his part to put Denver and Vesta Dipping Grill on the culinary map.

Born and raised in Denver, Selby's kitchen odyssey began by serving up burgers and cheese sticks in Bennigan's kitchens. After a five year stint at Bennigan's, Matty got the first big opportunity to work under two of his greatest influences, Tim Anderson, and Jimmy Schmidt at The Rattlesnake Grill in Denver. It was here that Matty chose to dedicate his professional life to food. In 1995, with Anderson and Schmidt, Matty participated in City Meals on Wheels in New York City. This was a dream come true meeting of some of the best chefs in the country, before the term "celebrity chef" ever existed.

Vesta Dipping Grill offers a unique concept with a special kind of menu freedom that has allowed Matty to be whimsical, creative, and worldly all at the same time. After only a year in business, Vesta was receiving incredible reviews, and Matty's reputation as one of Denver's best new chefs was growing. And the raves just kept coming: Best Chef in Denver, Denver's Top Ten Restaurants, Best Dessert, Best Appetizer, Best Cheese Plate, Best Duck, Best Place for a First Date, Best Place for Groups, Most Romantic, and the list goes on. Vesta has been noted in the New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, The Washington Post, Travel and Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, and Maxim (the most respected of food magazines). Recently Vesta was featured on The Food Network's Unwrapped, and Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels. In her magazine Rachel Ray claimed Matty is "going to be a rock star." Perhaps one of the most gratifying highlights in Matty's career was an invitation to represent Denver at the James Beard House in New York City in 2005.

Matty could be the only chef in Denver that has remained in the same kitchen for nine years. His loyalty to Vesta and his continued desire to make it better has allowed Vesta to remain one of Denver's best restaurants year after year. Finally, in June of 2006, Matty took on another challenge by opening Steuben's, with the team and partnership he had built at Vesta Dipping Grill. While Vesta allows Matty to cook with his mind, Steuben's regional American and comfort menu has allowed Matty to get back to his roots and cook with his heart. After only two months Steuben's has been called "retro fabulous", "the hottest new joint in town", and recognized by the New York Times as "where to eat now."

Matty regularly contributes his time to a variety of local charity work including Vesta's annual "Small Plates For The Spot", Co-Chairing Culinary Conversations for the Liver Foundation, Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen (Children's Hospital), nine years in a row of Share Our Strengths Taste of the Nation, Chef's Out Front Operation Front Line, Dining out for Life, and numerous local art openings. Matty teaches regularly at The Seasoned Chef, and Mise en Place cooking schools. He has broadened his horizons with stages at Chez Panisse, An American Place, Goodfellows, and Gramercy Tavern.

RESTAURANT - Fruition, Denver CO

Alex Seidel, now Chef/Owner of Fruition Restaurant, began his career in the kitchen at age 14 in his home state of Wisconsin.  From there, he quickly moved from the line to Sous Chef of Main Street Bistro by age 20. Inspired by food at a young age, Seidel studied at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, graduating at the top of his class. After graduation, he wanted to move to the California coast and work with the best chefs, local produce, and bounties from the nearby waters.  He found his way at Hubert Keller's Club XIX at the prestigious Pebble Beach Resort, along with some of the state's finest kitchens. He went on to become Sous Chef at Antione Michelle and Chef at Carmel Valley Ranch both in Carmel, California.  From there, he left the coast for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

After a spontaneous trip to the Vail Valley, Alex fell in love with the strikingly beautiful natural setting and quality of life in a mountain town. He found a home as the Chef De Cuisine in one of Colorado's most renowned establishments, Sweet Basil in Vail, Colorado. Keeping his roots in Vail, Alex's thirst for culinary knowledge and experience took him to France, Italy and Morocco, where he experienced first hand the foods that formed his foundation in French cooking techniques. Following his first love (wife Melissa), Alex moved to Denver and became the Executive Chef at Mizuna. There he stayed for four years compiling the necessary ingredients (Vision, Hard Work and Ethics) needed to grow and understand what it takes to become a successful restaurateur.

Seidel opened his first restaurant, "Fruition," in the historical 7th Avenue district tucked between downtown Denver and Cherry Creek. Fruition quickly became popular with a 31/2 star rating in the Denver Post. In June of 2007, Gourmet Magazine featured Alex's new eatery, noting, "Fruition has opened a whole new chapter for Denver." The next month, Denver's 5280 Magazine rated Fruition with four stars.  "Spectacular technique, innovation and precision define this dining destination that is destined to become a superstar in the metro area". rated Fruition as one of the top 10 new restaurants in the U.S. for 2007, along with World-renowned Chefs such as Gordon Ramsey, David Burke and Michel Richard.  Zagat Guide has honored Fruition by rating the food the highest in the state. Recently, Seidel was recognized by the James Beard Foundation via an invitation to cook for the 20th Anniversary "Dinners across America."

Honored by his success and recognition from the national media, Alex's focus remains on the quality and consistency of his food and the ultimate dining experience for Fruition's patrons.

RESTAURANT - Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Lola - Great Neck NY

Michael Aeyal Ginor is co-founder and Chef of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the most comprehensive Foie Gras producer in the world. Michael, with his partner Izzy Yanay, modernized the ancient delicacy known to Pharos and kings by utilizing the hi-tech and scientifically advanced production techniques of the twentieth century. Production is now a unified, controlled and consistent operation based on nature, nurture, and technology. It is a closed, independent production system where the duck and the egg both come first!

Michael was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1963. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and studied for an MBA at New York University. After four years on Wall Street as a Senior Vice-President with David Lerner Associates he decided to take a revolutionary step: having been born to Israeli expatriates living in America, in 1988 Michael joined the Israeli Defense Forces. He served as a patrol-commanding Captain in the Gaza Strip and as the Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson. It was in Israel that Michael first discovered the potential of modern-age Foie Gras processing. Michael pursued his dream by establishing what is today the major Foie Gras producer in the United States. The company distributes its moulard duck products through a network of distributors extending throughout the United States, and beyond.

HVFG has received the 1993 Gold Merit Award from Chefs in America and the 1996 Award for Excellence from The James Beard Foundation. In 1996, HVFG received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and the 1998 Award of Excellence from the American Tasting Institute. Michael has served as Honorary Event Chairman for the Spinazzola Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Fund. In May 1996, Michael received the first Olive Branch Award from the Jewish National Fund for humanitarian and professional achievements. He was honored with the 1997 Angel Award from The James Beard Foundation for dedication, contribution and foresight and in 1998, Michael received the American Master Taster Award from the American Tasting Institute. Both Michael and Izzy Yanay were inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food and Beverage.

While HVFG is the bedrock of Michael's pursuits, since 1990, Michael has dedicated his time to the many facets of the culinary world, including product development, creating and organizing gourmet and charitable events, workshops and demonstrations. Thus, Hudson Valley Foie Gras is committed to and is associated with: The James Beard Foundation, where Michael serves as a member of the National advisory Board, The Culinary Institute of America, New England Culinary Institute, Meals on Wheels, Share Our Strength, The Robert Mondavi Master Chefs Program, The Television Food Network, The Masters of Food and Wine, The St. Mortiz Food & Wine Festival, Singapore World Gourmet Summit, and the Bangkok World Gourmet Festival among numerous others.

Michael is also founder of Culinary Brainwaves which consults to the gourmet food industry. He has worked with Rio Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas; Hyatt International; The Regent Group; The Four Seasons Group; Shangri-La Sheraton International; Inter-Continental and the Disney Corporation. He inaugurated the Food and Wine Festivals for Club-Med International.

Michael organizes culinary events and festivals worldwide. By bringing together celebrated American chefs and local chefs, Michael helps to create an intercultural culinary exchange program, which introduces American ingredients and techniques to world markets. Such events have been organized in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Michael is a food and travel contributor to such stellar publications as Food Arts Magazine; The James Beard Magazine; Art Culinaire; Coffee & Cuisine; Singapore's Cuisine Scene and Great Britain's Great Hospitality. His cookbook, the internationally acclaimed Foie Gras…A Passion, is a comprehensive reference book accompanied by 84 recipes, received the prestigious 1999 Prix la Mazille for best international cookbook of the year from the International Cookbook Revue in Versailles.

Michael, along with Chef Ken Oringer launched Boston's La Verdad, a casual Mexican Taqueria and restaurant, which has already been awarded "The Best Casual Mexican Restaurant in the US" by Bon Appetit Magazine and "One of the best 100 Restaurant in the US" by Food and Wine Magazine. In July 2007 Michael opened TLV in Great Neck, NY, a Mediterranean restaurant which is garnishing critical acclaim and has received three stars from Newsday – "An oasis of serious food…. by culinary luminary Michael Ginor" as well as "best new restaurant (Long Island) 2008'. It received a Zagat "most notabl" distinguish in 2009. In September 2009 Michael opened "Lola", a new personal cuisine restaurant, also in Great Neck, NY. Lola is already being hailed as one of Long Island's best restaurants.

RESTAURANT - Black Cat, Boulder CO

Born in San Diego, California and raised in Virginia, Eric Skokan studied history at the University of Virginia. While moonlighting at the award-winning Silver Thatch Inn in the Virginia Countryside, he quickly realized that he preferred the cookbook to the textbook. After graduation he moved around the country working in some of the best restaurant kitchens, until 2006 when he opened Black Cat Farm Table Bistro in Boulder ( Eric lives in Boulder with his wife Jill and their four children, and enjoys farming, eating and fixing his tractor, Buttercup.

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.

RESTAURANT - Mizuna, Luca D'italia, Osteria Marco, Bones in Denver CO

Frank Bonanno shaves a rich dark truffle over a crackling egg and the look on his face can be summed up in a single word: passion. Bonanno lovingly plates his simple creation and explains, "I have a good life. It's not really fashionable to say I had a great childhood, but I did, and most of who I am today comes from food experiences I had from a very early age." The aroma of fresh pastries and pastas from his Italian grandmother permeated the Bonanno's New Jersey home. He got his own first jabs at cooking playing sick from school so he and his mother could watch Julia Child together and test out her recipes. Weekends, Bonanno's parents would bring him to explore great restaurants in New York City, and Bonanno's award winning restaurants—Mizuna, Luca D'Italia, Osteria Marco, Bones—reflect that upbringing. The scope of their variant styles and price-points—from high-end French-American to casual, authentic Italian—reflect the strength of his education and formal training, beginning with a finance degree at the University of Denver, to a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, to cooking stints at some of the finest eateries in the world.

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."

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