Frank Bonanno found his passion early, cooking or working in restaurants most of his life. The aroma of pastries and pastas from his Sicilian grandmother permeated Bonanno’s New Jersey home where he and his mother tried out Julia Child recipes on the family. On weekends, his parents would bring him to explore unusual restaurants tucked into the corners in New York City. After he graduated from the school of finance at the University of Denver, Bonanno revisited that passion by earning a second degree at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY. “I had a great childhood. Most of who I am today comes from the food I was fortunate enough to be exposed to at a very young age.”
Bonanno has imbued Denver with the spirit of those experiences through a slew of award winning restaurants—Mizuna, Luca, Osteria Marco, Bones, Lou’s Food Bar, Russell’s Smokehouse, Wednesday’s Pie, Salt & Grinder—and of late two spectacular bars—Green Russell and Vesper Lounge.
Bonanno is inspired by classic French techniques, but also by the simplicity of the type of food found in the best American restaurants. He likes to offer clean flavors that enhance the freshest, finest ingredients. His cooking philosophy inspired Chef Driven, a PBS show that debuted in winter 2014 on Colorado Public Television. As host, Frank travels across the Colorado Front Range, cooking along the way and using ingredients from each of the destinations he visits.
While Bonanno believes that the “star” at all of his venues is the food, there is a final feature that makes the dining experiences exemplary: the teams. Frank firmly believes that “food is a way to express yourself and make people happy,” and has gained a reputation for immersing chefs in arduous training and classic techniques, while allowing them to have fun with their profession. His philosophy resonates with the people that come through Bonanno Concept doors. To date, Frank’s chefs have moved directly from positions at the helm of his restaurants to open Fruition, Mercantile Dining & Provisions, The Truffle Table, Masterpiece Deli, Old Major, Curtis Park Deli, Park Burger, Park & Co., Home Grown Tap & Dough, The Wooden Table, Bistro Barbès and To The Wind. In short, he has shaped the Denver culinary scene as it exists today.
“Everyone here is in this business because we love it. That’s why we do it. We know we’re going to serve seventy people dinner tonight, and the best way to do that,” he says smiling, “is with passion.”