Frasca Food and Wine has made a habit out of bringing well-known chefs from across the country into its kitchen. Just in the last year, diners were able to attend events staring names like Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef NYC in 2011, Marc Vetri of Vetri Ristaorante, a finalist in the 2012 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant category, and James Meehanof PDT, a nationally-acclaimed mixologist who presented a dinner paired with wine-based cocktails. The list of star guests also included Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, John Besh of Restaurant August, Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, Michael Tusk of Quince, and Rajat Parr, master sommelier who directs the wine program for the Michael Mina restaurant group.
Tonight, Frasca hosts Top Chef Masters winner, chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco . The word is that a limited number of seats is still available. Eater asked co-owner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey about the goals and impact of these special events.
When and why did Frasca start the guest chef dinners? We started these dinners about seven years ago. Our approach was pretty simple: Denver/Boulder is far away from the great food cities of NYC, San Francisco, L.A., and Chicago, and we wanted to create something that would help make Denver and Boulder a part of the greater US restaurant community. On average, about thirty percent of each dinner is attended by peers in the industry - chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, mixologists, and so on.
How do you think the dining community here reacts to and benefits from these visits from nationally-acclaimed chefs? When I was waiter 25yrs ago, I'd save money and travel to San Francisco to dine at Chez Panisse, or to L.A. to experience the wine menu at Campanile. We created the guest chef series to enable waiters, line cooks, managers, and chefs from the restaurant community in Denver, Vail, Aspen and so on to save up and come in for a meal and sometimes a cookbook and have the chance to meet and talk with the visiting chef. The chefs we've had in over the past seven years are doing remarkable work in their respective communities, and we are thrilled to offer our local peers the opportunity to meet them in our own hometown.
What has been surprising about these dinners? I've been amazed about how many young chefs from the Boulder and Denver community have gotten jobs or stages as a result of these dinners. For example, we've had young chefs attend a guest chef event with John Besh, who are now working for him or doing a stage with him. We see this as a long-term investment in the community. We have been fortunate to have some of the greatest chefs in the country cook here over the past seven years, and look forward to what the next seven will bring.
How does the series impact Colorado's dining map in general? Colorado has a tough road to hoe. We don't have a publishing base here, and we don't have enough industry people come through town on their own. These dinners enable the guest chefs to dine out, experience our community and say, "Oh, wow – I didn't know Denver and Boulder had this going on!" These dinners promote the entire Denver/Boulder dining community. The irony is that many of the guest chefs don't even eat at Frasca when they're here. They come to town, eat elsewhere in Boulder or Denver, do the guest chef dinner at Frasca and then return home. Michael Tusk of Quince in San Francisco has done three guest chef dinners with us in as many years, and he has never eaten a Frasca menu. This fall, he is staying another day to finally eat at Frasca.
Frasca Food and Wine [Photo: Delish]