Cafe Society

Chef and Tell with Alex Seidel of Fruition

"We set out to do a small, simple restaurant, not to blaze any trails," says Alex Seidel, executive chef of Fruition, the indelible American restaurant that's been the object of everyone's affection since he and co-owner Paul Attardi opened the place two and a half years ago on East Sixth Avenue's restaurant row. "The positive reaction has been fantastic, but we never expected this kind of attention," confesses Seidel. "I'm just a simple chef who cooks food."

The Wisconsin native began working in kitchens when he was just fourteen, then studied culinary arts in Portland, Oregon. From there he moved to California, where he cooked alongside luminary chef Hubert Keller. He continued to hone his craft in several other noteworthy West Coast kitchens before packing up for Vail and nabbing the chef de cuisine gig at Sweet Basil. Several countries and cooking stints later, Seidel landed on the doorstep of Mizuna, where he was the executive chef for four years before leaving to open Fruition.

Since then, Seidel has combined his zeal for cooking with his lust for farming. Earlier this year, he unearthed Fruition Farms, a ten-acre swath of land in Larkspur that's currently home to a hoop house that grows greens; two goats, Frick and Frack, that live in a big, red renovated barn; and more than a dozen chickens and one rooster. Soon the barn will house an additional 50 to 75 sheep. Seidel is also adding a greenhouse that will shelter the stunning vegetable and herb microgreens that he and Verde Farms owner Josh Halder cultivate, a dairy that will produce small-batch sheep's-milk cheeses, a second hoop house, honeybees and farm-to-table dinners. "Josh and I have been meeting at the bar and talking about this farm for over a year, and we're finally seeing it happen," says Seidel.

I recently sat down with Seidel at his farm, where he talked about tractors, his penchant for pork and cheese, the virtues of the lowly potato, his 27-course marathon dinner at Alinea, why he loathes lobster and the absence of rules in his kitchen.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson