The GABF Tastemakers series continues today with Bobby Stuckey, co-owner of Boulder's Frasca Food and Wine. Stuckey holds the Master Sommelier diploma— a distinction that less than 100 individuals in the United States hold. To say Stuckey knows food, wine, and pairings is an understatement, and was further underscored when the Frasca team won the James Beard Foundation's 2013 Outstanding Wine Program award. But Stuckey, not surprisingly, has a few beer tricks up his sleeve too.
How did you get to where you are now?I decided years ago to take the journey to become a Master Sommelier. My perspective is that if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right - at that time and to this day, I believe that the best way to become a truly knowledgeable wine professional is through the MS program. Regarding tasting, I believe it is the most under-appreciated and under-observed part of the food and beverage industry/restaurant business. Our job is to make sure each beverage we pair, serve, and suggest tastes sound, balanced, unflawed, and delicious with food. Sommeliers, cicerones, and everyone in the beverage industry should be continually developing our palates.
What are some classic beer and food pairings you like to work with? One of the most fulfilling/satisfying pairings I can think of is a great, crisp pilsner and potato chips. There is no pretense, it just tastes good and refreshing.
How do you explain pairings to your guests? Pairings can be done in several ways. Synergistic, where one or two items of food and a beverage are in sync and complementing one another, or contrasting - for example, oysters and a glass of muscadet wine. The muscadet's job is to refresh the palate after the contrasting oysters. Similarly, a rich beef or lamb with a tannic red actually makes that red wine taste more ready to drink because the tannins are hooking onto proteins and sweetening the wine.
What is your most memorable bar/food pairing experience? My first, and most memorable beer and food pairing experience is as a kid growing up in Arizona and tasting a sip of my dad's Tecate beer with Mexican food.
How have you seen the brewing/restaurant industry change in the past 10 years? I think it's gotten so much more varied - having lived in Boulder for 10 years, it's been exciting watching the Front Range essentially become the Napa Valley of microbreweries. It's great to see so many people doing so many different things with brewing, and doing them well— whatever you like, you can get.
What's one of your favorite beers this season to drop on the table/see on the menu? One of my favorite beers of all time is an Anchor Steam. I have an Anchor Steam every night after work— and since I've basically been in the restaurant business for my entire life, that's a lot of Anchor Steam.