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Frank's Blog

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The Benefits of Kitchen Typing

January 27, 2017 | Frank Bonanno

I cook a lot. I mean a whole lot. Forget that it’s my livelihood, and that on any given night I might be cooking on one of nine professional lines or in the DaVita kitchen, or for Chef Driven. I cook for my family, too–maybe three breakfasts a week for my sons, and a couple
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Chicos!

January 6, 2017 | Frank Bonanno

I’m on a little cooking show called Chef Driven. The show was a envisioned as a way for me to take people on a food journey–no, an ingredient journey–through the lens of chef who’s also a restaurateur. I’d get to trace the food I serve in my restaurants back to its origins, to put faces and
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I’m Sorry You Were Turned Away from Green Russell

December 15, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

Every so often, I get an email from someone who wants me to know their group was turned away from Green Russell. The hostess was rude, they might say. It was a Monday night, and the bar was empty. They were willing to split their party up. Usually, the person just wants to let me
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Scrambled Egg-celence

November 15, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

I love eggs. One of my favorite episodes of Mind of a Chef is the one that focuses on this simple, perfect, delicious protein. No kidding, if I find myself up in the middle of the night, I’ll scramble some eggs and enjoy them with milk, cold out of the bottle. Random winter mornings, when
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Bechamel, Because Delicious Is Simple is delicious

November 8, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

(*Right at the outset, I’d like to apologize to my wife, my sons, the estate of Norman Rockwell, any photographers, expert illustrators, amateur illustrators, and anyone else I may have offended in the Paint-botched image above, which I love regardless of my poor computer skills* fb) At the beginning of the month, I came home
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Here’s to Cake!

November 3, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

If it’s cake vs. pie, I’m cake all the way. Cake is so great. Any cake in any iteration from any chef is fantastic–German chocolate, raspberry, funfetti, vanilla, lemon, cinnamon, apple, what have you–because a cake, made from scratch, loved and paddled, and loaded with heavy cream and butter and fresh ingredients, gently baked and
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Happy Birthday Frank (a love letter & a budino recipe)

October 5, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

Today is Frank’s birthday. Almost exactly four years ago, he put together an interactive recipe collection called “Party of Eight” and for the preface, producer Chris McNeal asked me to write about “the moment I fell in love with Frank.” Instead of dropping a card on Frank’s pillow this morning, I thought I’d revisit that
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It’s All Peaches & Tiki Parties Around Here

September 15, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

I have two peach trees in my back yard. Right around August, their skinny limbs start to dip to the ground, heavy with their fat, ripe load. They tease our whole family, those trees, their scent filling the yard, making the bees drunk, causing neighbors to linger and point. The whole spectacle is just too
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Two Lessons and a Baker’s Dozen

February 29, 2016 | Frank Bonanno

  In the late 90’s, when I wasn’t being paid to cook, I was usually staging—during culinary school and after, and later again when I landed my first exec job. I worked both in Europe and in a half dozen cities in the US, and the most overwrought experiences by far were the weeks spent
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Giorgio Felicin and the Art of Simplicity

December 10, 2015 | Frank Bonanno

The best compliment I can pay a dish is to call it simple. Simplicity is so. Beautiful. In 1999 I had a life-changing, career-changing stage at Felicin & Sons in Alba. My three months there taught me, among other things,  the Beauty of Simplicity. There were no “stations” in the Felicin kitchen; all the cooks
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I’ve Got Spirit, Yes I do . . .

November 2, 2015 | Frank Bonanno

(Doesn’t Rachel Adams make that Maple Bourbon pie look good??) When I opened Mizuna (has it been nearly fifteen years? Yes it has . . .) there was no such thing as a “cocktail program.” Vodka was everyone’s spirit of choice—the dirtier or sweeter, the better–and you would no more think of “pairing” a cocktail
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Seven Keys to Getting Fundraising Donors

May 16, 2015 | Frank Bonanno

(take home goodies for a Children’s Hospital fundraiser at our house) Our schools are under-capitalized and under-financed, and it’s a sad reality that suddenly every parent is a fundraiser. Heck, maybe you’re not a parent and it’s not even a school you’re raising money for—but somehow you got involved with a non-profit, and you never
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My Heart is Pizza Shaped

March 20, 2015 | Frank Bonanno

(Actually, Luca’s heart is doughnut shaped) I look at a slice of pizza the way my son looks at doughnuts. I could eat a slice any time anywhere, and mostly I don’t even care if the crust is too thick or the cheese off-brand or toppings too intense. From the synthetic saltiness of a self-rising
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What if Every Day Were Take Your Son to Work Day?

January 30, 2015 | Frank Bonanno

Marco has a knight in one hand and Batman in the other and the two are engaged in combat above the oatmeal. I tell my youngest to move this battle away from the breakfast table and into the attic. Wouldn’t a castle be a better scene to wage this war? One summer, when I was
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Worry for Me and S&G

August 31, 2014 | Frank Bonanno

My wife can’t read restaurant reviews–not about our restaurants, not about other folks’ places. She says it hurts too much–the praise is never high enough, even the most minor criticism, too sharp. So Jacqueline will scan a review, get the gist of whether it’s good or bad, then walk away. How she can step away
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The Most Important Person in the Dining Room

May 18, 2014 | Frank Bonanno

I’m reading through the training manual for Salt & Grinder, and I like the following section. It’s reminiscent of the Danny Meyers School of Thought–whose book, by the way, is required reading for all of our employees. “E X P E C T A T I O N S ‘Who is the most important person
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In Praise of the Late Diner

April 26, 2014 | Frank Bonanno

(I wrote the following piece for Andra Zepplin, editor of Eater Denver, linked at the bottom of the page. Liked the way it turned out, wanted to post it here.) End-of-summer afternoon, hot as Death. We haven’t had a single guest in Bones for over an hour, and just as we lock the lunch doors
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Eat the Skin, It’s Delicious

January 25, 2014 | Frank Bonanno

Last summer Chris McNeal and a small camera crew descended on my home.  We taped over windows and moved furniture around, then invited some of my favorite professionals to cook, barbecue, eat, and drink like crazy.We even managed to capture some of it on film. Then, McNeal and his crew (Paul Kubala and Mitchell Alexander),
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Classic Carbonara with a Spring Twist

June 26, 2013 | Frank Bonanno

  I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Clear Creek Organics operation. The bounty Stephen Cochenour sent me away with –sugar and snap peas, bi-colored zuchini, spring garlic–inspired a spectacular dinner later that evening. This spin on carbonara, one of my favorite pasta dishes, was so easy to execute (and so very satisfying to
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The Expectations Grow Daily

April 30, 2013 | Frank Bonanno

  For years, I didn’t have training manuals for the restaurants. There was only Mizuna, after all, and I knew that staff intimately. Then we grew to Luca, and we were all still friendly peers. I used to say “If you’re here, working with me, then you’re an adult and a professional. You know what’s
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Breaking Down the Animal

March 16, 2013 | Frank Bonanno

There was this old German instructor at the CIA—patient and kind with big, meaty hands and quick, calloused sausage fingers. He took great care in his professional appearance, crisp ironed chef whites, neckerchief, tilted toque—and he clearly loved what he was doing. He was a chef who inspired his students, passionate, engaged, teaching us the
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Finally, A Cure for Fatty Thighs

February 23, 2013 | Frank Bonanno

Andrew Boyer is in the Luca kitchen doing really beautiful work with a pig. He’s celebrating, in his quiet way, a cautious victory, the way all good cooks celebrate—with their hands, their knives, their skills, lovingly recreating their happiness and sharing it with you. Let me backtrack. For over a decade, once a week and
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Three Days at Three Stars

November 27, 2012 | Frank Bonanno

This summer, four chefs from Mizuna and Luca d’Italia spent time in nationally acclaimed kitchens. Each was offered a job (a testament to the talent and work ethic around me). I’ve written here before about how important it is for chefs to cook in a variety of kitchens–to learn, to be humbled, and sometimes just
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The Month Luca Was a Borg

August 14, 2012 | Frank Bonanno

In 2007, Dr. Michael Handler cut out a small piece of my son’s skull and placed it in a deep freezer. He used the opening as a portal through which to attach electrodes directly to Luca’s brain. The wires that came from that portal hung on Luca like a thick patch of robotic dreadlocks, covered
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My Big Fat Restaurant Family Makes a Cookbook

July 28, 2012 | Frank Bonanno

When I opened Luca d’Italia nearly a decade ago, I got to staff it with my friends. Even then, I realized those days were numbered–that I would age in an industry that wouldn’t necessarily age with me, that these talented people would move on to other restaurants or other careers, that I would never again
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Yes Danica, I’m Mean

May 22, 2012 | Frank Bonanno

I’m such a jackass; ask anyone who’s never worked with me. Here’s a perfect example. I’m going to brag about my “Hold Production” citation from the Department of Environmental Health–brag partially because it reads like an advertisement for a cured meat program (19 cheeses, some with mold, all between 54 and 57 degrees; 12 different
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Is it my fault somebody stunk up the bathroom?

January 25, 2012 | Frank Bonanno

Part of me wishes no one complained. A Mizuna patron vented online because her illegally parked car was towed (she didn’t use the complimentary valet). A steak tartare was too rare; a soft shell crab too difficult to de-shell, the vichyssoise too cold. At Luca, a client raged against the cloth napkins that didn’t work
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To Manny, on the First Day of Christmas

December 2, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

Five afternoons a week, Manuel Macias comes through the door at Mizuna, quietly, nearly invisibly, and begins to wash the lobster pots. When the servers and cooks gather around the bar for family meal, sharing food articles and restaurant gossip, Manny takes his meal outside, enjoying a brief moment of peace before the evening’s service.
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My Favorite Tools

December 1, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

One Christmas Eve, dinner came to stop when my three year old niece walked out of the kitchen carrying my very large very sharp carving knife.  That was back before I had children of my own and knew any better—back when you could travel cross country with potentially deadly cooking tools in a carry on.
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A Little Change for Mizuna’s Tenth

September 3, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

I can’t believe it’s been ten years. When Mizuna opened, we took reservations by telephone and scrawled them in pencil, barely legible in a gothic black leather bound reservation book. The servers—there were three—wrote the orders out by hand. Our wine book listed 62 labels, though we had no bar to speak of or place
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Why 5280 is Great and I Suck

September 3, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

This month, Shari Caudron wrote a review of Lou’s FoodBar for 5280. Essentially, she concluded that she doesn’t get it. I ranted. What’s to get? Why didn’t she call to ask about the concept? How can she posit on a philosophy when she didn’t even take the time to discuss that philosophy with me–or Jacqueline,
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Lou’s: My Kinda Roadhouse

September 2, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

During my first visit to Germany, we pulled off the autobahn into what I can best describe as “all-white 1960’s mall structure” to eat what, according to Jacqueline’s cousin, was the best schnitzel in the country. That raststätte menu had everything from intricate French pastries to German staples like spätzle—and, in truth, the schnitzel was
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Perfecting an Ice-to-Spirits Ratio

June 23, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

The philosophy in this generation of bartending may seem new, but the verbiage–fresh, crafted, seasonal, local, paired–well, that’s familiar territory. It’s an honorable tribute to generations old techniques and recipes in both cooking and drink-making. I knew Adam Hodak was serious about his cocktail programs when our tool bags were sitting side by side. Interestingly,
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Old Executive Chef Returns to Mizuna

June 8, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

It’s not quite summer and the thermometer in the Mizuna kitchen reads 110 °. I am hot and I feel old—old because I am surrounded by youth. Because although we share the common language of classic movies and bad ‘80’s music, cookbooks and food writing—the banter fizzles when I start joking around about Agent P
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Sardines Don’t Stink.

May 11, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

(sardine wrapped in prociutto, above) So Tony Mantuano comes to Luca d’Italia, and we cook up a storm, and everyone loves the food and we get compliments all around. The cooks celebrate in the kitchen after, drinking wine and eating sardines, and what struck me—what struck us all really, was the great flavor of these
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Try the Pink Chicken. Please.

February 17, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

Sometimes you have to compromise even when you know you’re right. At Green Russell, we celebrate our industry with Fried Chicken Sundays. Ten dollars for Red Bird Farms organic birds and a big helping of mashed potatoes. The country fried recipe is pretty straightforward: legs and thighs brined in buttermilk, salt, and pepper for 24
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Support Denver, Eat Well

January 22, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

I don’t believe in offering coupons, or nightly specials; none of our restaurants advertise. Those somehow seem like cheap tricks to me—a way to lure diners and get them in over their heads, or get rid of food that’s suspect or doesn’t sell; a way to buy recognition. But there is an honest to God
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Nothing Fancy, Just Lou’s

January 6, 2011 | Frank Bonanno

Simple. Comfort. I walk to the coffee shop in the mornings with my sons. I walk to Mondo Vino Sunday nights to pick up wine for dinner. I walk around the corner for cupcakes, for bicycle repair, for flowers even. Although I’m within walking distance of lots of good restaurants, I really, really wanted another
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A Cook Ventures into the Bar Business

November 30, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

(Adam doing battle with ice–photo courtesy of the talented Mike McGill) A Journal on Opening Green Russell September 10 Joe Voestrejs walks us through an ‘80’s sex dungeon below Larimer Square. Jacqueline and I love the space from the outset–hand carved brick walls, raw pipes, giant kitchen. It just needs to be stripped back down
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Musing on Friends and Family

October 30, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

Friends and Family—Industry term for a restaurant’s opening practice night. The words “Friends and Family” make the night sound so casual, like a big, happy party full of hugs and clinking glasses and sincere sidebars from long-lost friends in the kitchen. Some of those elements hold: I pack familiar faces and favorite people and lots
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Time to Break New Ground

September 24, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

What do you see here? I see: a full restaurant, French doors, booths. Casual food & charcuterie. Families. We met in a conference room on 17th and Lawrence today, eighteen of us in all–ten ticking well over $300 per hour–8 inches of paperwork, 4 pitchers of water, 2 pots of coffee. It should have been
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Five Favorite Back to School Breakfasts

August 23, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

Breakfast isn’t my favorite meal–not to eat, not to cook. An adult comes to realize, though, that every meal isn’t centered around a single set of needs. Suddenly, I’m in my forties, enjoying brunch on the weekends, cooking whole meals sometimes before I’m really even awake. I eat pancakes. Waffles even. Over summer, everything relaxed
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What I Read on My Summer Vacation

July 22, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

(In the spirit of disclosure: Anthony Bourdain & Me at Mizuna) I had a phenomenal vacation. I cooked for people I love every night in what can only be described as a magical setting; I spent a ton of time in the ocean with my sons (we line caught crabs together every morning, fished for
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An Open Letter to Diego Cordosa

June 23, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

–Hunter and Pig [Stage: pronounced “stAHj”—intense, brief training period, usually with no pay, to prepare on for work in one’s intended field (in our case, cooking)] I’m calling Diego Cordosa this weekend to explain myself, and I’m using this blog as a means to organize my thoughts. See, I’m trying to place Hunter, from Luca,
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Just One More Claw from a Perfectly Boiled Lobster

May 11, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

Every summer my family, and I mean my whole family—brothers, sisters, parents; my children, their children—get together beach-side to play and laugh and drink and eat. I cook almost every night (it’s how I express myself), usually fish that my father catches in the morning, simple pastas with fresh ingredients, sometimes just really good burgers.
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Good Food for the Little Dudes

March 3, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

There was a family dining at Luca recently and the parents were thoughtful enough to bring in chicken nuggets for their child. Heartbreaking. My sons try everything, not just because I’m a good cook, but because the meal we offer them is their only option. This week, in fact, we’ve had amazing variety at our
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More pig!

February 24, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

My prosciutto looks suspiciously fluorescent–Peshek suspects rule-breaking and pink salt, but it’s just the paprika making itself known. I swear. We’re all about to take our ham-off products home for the final months of aging. Dirk built a super secret curing room, and not only am I going to put my pig leg in there,
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Ham-off, Week Four

February 2, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

As the first month of curing ends, the moisture slowly, slowly, s l o w l y leaves the prosciutto. Here’s Hunter’s leg, looking good. Save
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HAM OFF 2010!

January 22, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

The Bone-in Ham Laws: 1. Dry cure only—no pink salt. 2. All curing, sewing, prep, etc. must be done in the same kitchen. 3. All drying or aging must be done at home. 4. Must have a written recipe. 5. Must try own ham 48 hours prior to ham-off 6. Tasting starts 1” from bottom.
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Monday Night Special: Chopsticks and Elbows

November 14, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

My favorite shift at the Osteria is Sunday nights, when Alex roasts the pigs. I love the way the rotisserie glows yellow and flares to orange when the fat hits the fire; the way suckling pig draws families and couples and foodies down the stairs and into the dining room; the way the pork smells
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For an Amazing Cheese Plate

October 13, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

Last night, I had an amazing platter at Sushi Sasa—all of the kitchen elements worked in harmony: the caliber of chefs; the freshness, temperature, and perfectly sliced fish; the quality of rice and simplicity in seasoning. . . That sushi plate got me to thinking about meat and cheese plates, because the same components can
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God I Love a Reuben

September 17, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

For a long, long time now, I’ve wanted to put a Reuben on the panini menu at the Osteria(O-stir-eeeee-ah). Finally, last week I was craving one for myself so badly I took action. No, it’s not a distinctly Italian sandwich–but I will give Marco this one because of the artistry in every single element executed
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The Luxury of Comfort Food (BLT’s & Ramen & Such)

September 5, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

My favorite meals, and the most consistently popular ones at the restaurants, are tweaked versions of ultimate comfort foods–the Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese on the Mizuna menu, the BLT I recently wrote about, the Froot Loops soft serve ice cream at Bones. A couple of years ago, a food writer asked me if I could
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BLT on Mizuna September Menu

September 3, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

I posted my ideas on the perfect BLT a couple of weeks ago. Here’s Tony’s twist. My favorite part: J Hill Farms raised a breed of tomato with a flavor profile designed to specifically compliment pork. We all taste-tested it. Unbelievable, slightly smokey, intensely moist and firm-skinned. Brioche beneath, cubed belly above, tender new arugula
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Harvest Ravioletta with Brown Butter

August 29, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

When I’m making dinner for a group, I always include a pasta course–the simpler the better (4 ingredients or so)–and it seems there’s always something fresh to pull it off–tarragon, arugula, chives . . . Right now I have a bounty of perfectly ripe, juicy tomatoes from my home garden (golden cherries) plus a beautiful,
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What do you do with a cow’s head, anyway?

August 27, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

The chill air of this August morning made me want to cook a whole animal—pig, lamb, goat—doesn’t really matter. There’s something about fall that calls for sacrifice, celebration and feast. With that in mind, I’d like to share a recipe and brief thoughts on a movement. First, the recipe: Pâté de Tête / Brawn There
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The Evolution of a BLT

August 20, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

I’m going to sneak into the dining room at Mizuna in a couple of weeks–not as a line cook, and not as the proprietor, but at table tucked into the back and set up as a makeshift cooking station. I won’t sell it as a “Chef’s Table,” because revenue’s not what I’m after, and I
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Keep that chef away from the food

August 12, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

In this month’s Bon Appetit, Andrew Knowlton says high-visibility chefs should stay off the line and work the dining room. There’s such truth in that statement, but I’m back there cooking every week anyway — tossing pizza one night, different station, different restaurant the next (and so on)–disrupting the flow and the camaraderie and subtlety
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Salumi: A Dangerous Beauty

June 22, 2009 | Frank Bonanno

Wild boar arrived at Luca a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not going to be on the menu for at least three more months. That’s because we’re grinding it, seasoning it, packing it, hanging it, slowly, slowly, s l o w l y, turning it into finocetta and capocola. In the seven years we’ve
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Thoughts on Liver

January 24, 2008 | Frank Bonanno

When I write for this blog, I mostly like to focus on Colorado game and produce—when the flavor peak hits, how to find good, organic examples, and possibly how to cook it. Not today. Today I’d like to take a moment to talk about foie gras. I really like it. I like to sear it;
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Osteria Marco

January 8, 2008 | Frank Bonanno

The new restaurant—Osteria Marco—just got reviewed by Jason Sheehan. I found out it was coming when I was in Jersey for the holidays and Westword sent photographers by the restaurant. It’s scary—knowing a writer came in completely undetected (three times), knowing I wasn’t even at Marco the last time he stopped in, not knowing how
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New York Trip

August 30, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

New York is the best food city in the world. Ryan Gaudin and I just got inspired there toward a pizzeria we’re opening here in Denver. What a trip. If I could cook a restaurant using ingredients from that one night in The City, here’s what I’d incorporate: The energy from Balthazar—probably my favorite that
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Pig

August 15, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

The tastiest farm animals eat and move in a natural way–cows that graze on grasses inthe open air; chickens that eat insects, greens, and grains; pigs that forage forpests and decaying matter. Usually the tastiest animals are young, too; beforethey’ve had a chance to develop tough muscles and while their bodies are stillfatty from milk
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Peas

June 30, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

I’m lucky to be a chef in Colorado. This land produces some unbelievable food, tender, tasty game, vegetables and fruits (especially pitted, but that’s much later in the season) with such crisp, sweet profiles, perfect and abundant. I like the hint April gives to the yield of the months ahead. For me, the first culinary
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Fancy cocktails and a little dessert . . .

June 28, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

Fancy cocktails and a little dessert . . . (Bitters, brandy, turnovers and caramels) One good thing always leads to another, which is how eight bags of cherries turned into brandy and tarts. The cherries at the farmers’ market were just too good to pass up—dark and sweet, home grown—a juicy invitation on a summer
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Fresh Summer Salad

June 21, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

We’ve got shallots, parsley, basil and watercress going crazy in the garden at home. In trying to use up as much as I can before summer’s heat destroys the lot, I scrounged up some blood oranges, and put together a giant salad for a barbecue. Thought it might be nice to post the recipe. Some
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Cheese

May 31, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

A few months back, my buddy Ramey came back from San Francisco raving about a burrata cheese she’d discovered in a restaurant there. I’d never tried that particular cheese before, so I researched online, found the exact source her restaurant was using, and ordered some for our staff to try. We loved it, and the
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Arugula

May 23, 2007 | Frank Bonanno

In trying to promote the discussion of locally driven menus, I look first to my home garden and farmers’ markets. Right now Denver is enjoying a great, wet, productive, promising season. The first week in April, I planted some Arugula (rocket) in my home garden, and I’ve been able to cook with it for weeks
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