AS YOU WISH had the pleasure of interviewing proprietor and chef of Bonanno Concepts, Frank Bonanno at his latest establishment, Russell's Smokehouse in Larimer Square. Frank's restaurants now include: Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, Bones, Osteria Marco, Green Russell, Lou's Food Bar, Wednesday's Pies & Russell's Smokehouse.
Q. So, you are from the East Coast - what made you choose to attend college in Denver?
A. It is the furthest away I could get!
Q.You received your degree in Finance, why did you decide to go to the CIA?
A. I always had a passion for cooking; I grew up in an Italian kitchen in New Jersey and always wanted to start a restaurant.
Q. I would assume you enjoy the cooking aspect of your job more than proprietor?
A. Yes, cooking is my passion
Q.You had the opportunity to work for two superstars in the restaurant industry: Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Danny Meyer of Gramercy Tavern. What did you take most of these experiences?
A. I had to work my way up; I even worked for free at first. I got to see how professional kitchens were run.
Q.When you opened your first restaurant Mizuna in 2001 - did you have a vision that early on to open so many other restaurants?
A. No, I had no idea. I thought Mizuna was it.
Q. With everything you have going on, how did you have time to write a cookbook?
A. I collaborated with professional chef, Jill Zeh Richter on Mizuna: French Inspired- Contemporary American Cuisine, our recipes just work well together.
Q. How do you keep the consistency & quality at such a high level with so many outlets?
A. The quality of my chefs.
Q. All of your restaurants have a different vibe, how do you develop a new concept & when do you decide it's the right time to execute it?
A. We wanted all of the restaurants to be unique and hopefully fill a gap in the Denver marketplace. We could have gone ahead and opened six Osteria Marco's, but we wanted to diversify and use different ingredients.
Q. Also, what unifies all of them?
A. French runs deep through all of the restaurants.
Q. People tend to think NY, LA, Chicago and San Francisco are on the nation's forefront with respects to having the best restaurants. Where do you think Denver fits in?
A. I think Denver is "HERE" as far as the restaurant scene goes. We have a great variety of restaurants, owners and chefs in town. I do think there is room for a high-octane sushi establishment.
Q. Tell us about catering options & event spaces?
A. All restaurants, including Bones offer full buyouts. Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, Osteria Marco, Green Russell and Russell's Smokehouse also offer private dining spaces without full buyout. Lou's Food Bar can also accommodate group seating without a full buyout, but does not have a "private dining room". Currently, we do not offer off-site catering, though it may be available in the future. You can contact Emily Schwartz at 303.525.1702.
Q. What is your next restaurant?
A. For now, I'm content with where we are at; we opened three restaurants in the past nine months, but you never know!
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?