Lynn Whittum, wine director and CFO at Bonanno Concepts and sommelier at Mizuna has been a recognizable figure in Denver's dining world. For five years, Whittum created a unique and attractive wine list at Bonanno's restaurants and graced the dining room with her smile and acute perceptiveness of the guests' needs. In December, Whittum parted ways with the restaurant group after five years to pursue a new life chapter in Aspen.
While Whittum's shoes are big, Kelly Wooldridge may be just the guy to fill them. Frank Bonanno tapped 28 year old Wooldridge to serve as the new wine director of Bonanno Concepts. The Kansas native is one of only a couple Advanced Sommeliers working in Denver's restaurants and he has hopes to be invited to sit for the Master Sommelier exam.
"I couldn't possibly be more honored and flattered," said Wooldridge. "This position is a dream come true for me; Frank is one of the most talented businessmen I've ever met and his restaurants represent so much variety in terms of cuisine, atmosphere and style. As a sommelier, you couldn't ask for more than to have that many different menus with which to work and the freedom Frank gives to build amazing wine programs." he added.
After graduating from high school, Wooldridge pursued a career in hospitality by working in several kitchens in the Midwest, including The American Restaurant in Kansas City, MO., and Adega Restaurant and Wine Bar in Denver. He earned an associate's degree in culinary arts, then a bachelor's degree in food service management from Johnson & Wales University in 2007. His passion for wine translated into an intense study of wine and a sommelier position at Union Bar and Grille in Boston. When he returned to Denver, he worked at Colt & Grayas a bartender and led beverage program at Trillium.
In his new role at Mizuna, Wooldridge is working on a few new ideas, including a wine club.
Kelly Wooldridge [Photo: Adam Larkey]