The Team at Mercantile

mercantile_alex_chef

Alex/chef

Born in 1973 in Wisconsin, Seidel began his culinary career at 14, serving as sous chef at Racine’s Main Street Bistro by age 20. He attended culinary school at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, finishing at the top of his class. After graduation, Seidel moved to California where he worked at Hubert Keller’s Club XIX at Pebble Beach Resort. He later became sous chef at Antoine Michelle, then chef de cuisine at Carmel Valley Ranch. During a trip to Colorado’s Vail Valley Alex fell in love with the mountains and soon found a home as chef de cuisine in one of Colorado’s most renowned restaurants, Sweet Basil. Chasing his first love and wife, Melissa, Seidel moved to Denver in 2002 and became executive chef at restaurateur Frank Bonanno’s fine-dining flagship, Mizuna. Seidel left Mizuna to launch his own restaurant, Fruition (fruitionrestaurant.com), which opened its doors on February 5, 2007 and remains one of Denver’s most coveted dinner reservations today. Upon opening, gayot.com named Fruition one of the top 10 new restaurants in the U.S.; Zagat soon rated Seidel’s spot the number one restaurant in Colorado, an honor it has held every year since opening; and 5280 magazine has included Fruition in its list of 25 Best Restaurants every year the ranking has run. Seidel himself has been the recipient of even more accolades, earning one of the most celebrated nods in the industry when Food & Wine magazine named him a Best New Chef in 2010. In addition, Denver Magazine called him Chef of the Year in 2009, 5280 gave him that title in 2008, and he has been a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Southwest” honor numerous times. Seidel cooked at the 20th Anniversary of “Dinners Across America” and was an opening chef of Aspen’s Chefs Club by Food & Wine. When not cooking at Fruition, Seidel is at his farm tending or milking some 60 sheep. The ricotta from Fruition Farms Dairy (fruitionfarmsdairy.com) won a first place award from the American Cheese Society in 2011. The chef’s creamery also makes the bloomy-rind, soft-ripened cheese called Shepherd’s Halo, a hard, aged, farmstead cheese called Cacio Pecora and the newest addition, a sheep’s milk yogurt called Skyr. In addition to making cheese, Seidel raises a heritage pork breed called “Large Black” and has planted his 10-acre farm with fruits and vegetables to supply the restaurant kitchens. In fall of 2014 Seidel opened a third endeavor: Mercantile dining & provision, a restaurant and European style market located in Denver’s Historic Union Station. With Mercantile, Seidel and his team further solidify the continuity and sustainable relationships between restaurant, farm and market.

Front of House

Dan Skvarca

Dan Skvarca

Operations Manager/Proprietor

Dan Skvarca

Operations Manager/Proprietor

A Wisconsin native, Dan moved to Colorado in 2000 where he quickly eased into the Colorado lifestyle. Growing up playing just about every sport he could, the Colorado landscape matched his energy and provided the perfect pitch to enjoy his daily activities. Dan moonlighted serving tables at Sweet Basil where he worked alongside his childhood friend, Alex Seidel. For Dan, hospitality has always been a passion of his and something he takes from his home to his friends and as he likes to believe, to everyone he touches.

Patrick Houghton

Patrick Houghton

Wine Director

Patrick Houghton

Wine Director

At the age of 13, Patrick developed the hospitality bug early by working in his family owned restaurant on Cape Cod, MA, where he learned every aspect of front and back of the house. Moving up and down the east coast after college, he found his way to Steamboat Springs, CO where he made a home and started his wine career. Patrick has said that "wine is what I love, there is nothing greater than the combination of food and wine, and more importantly the people you need to bring these two things together".

In May 2014, Patrick and Melissa had their 1st daughter, Freya. A month later Patrick passed the rigorous Advanced Sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommelier which was shortly followed by his acceptance of the Wine Director position at Mercantile dining & provision. He describes 2014 as "By far the best year of my life ever!!"

Tara Marcellus

Tara Marcellus

Market Director

Tara Marcellus

Market Director

Tara Marcellus is a native to the Front Range and comes from a family with a rich agricultural background. She spent some time living in Italy and learned to appreciate a simplistic style of cooking, where ingredients and care are highlighted and daily street markets inspire. Tara was lucky enough to be with Fruition Restaurant from it's beginning and over the years has gained an even more heightened appreciation for the joy that food can bring, and a constant excitement for what seasonal changes are in store. Five years ago she moved onto her grandfather's property, which previously had been a dairy farm, and has since spent most of her free time trying to revive the farming tradition on the property.
Tara has been providing eggs to Fruition Restaurant for years and hopes to someday be able to grow more vegetables than she and her family can eat so that she can share in the bounty of locally grown food. The hospitality industry has long been her favorite kind of job, because nothing is better than hosting an elaborate dinner party every day for people who are enjoying their evening or day out.

Charlene Seckler

Charlene Seckler

PR & Events/Assistant to Chef Alex Seidel

Charlene Seckler

PR & Events/Assistant to Chef Alex Seidel

Charlene has been a member of the Fruition/Mercantile family since day one. She is a Colorado native but has traveled and lived all over the world. Apart from her vast restaurant experience, Charlene has a background in language, literature and a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture. She brings her sense of organization, design style and project management to her varied and numerous tasks that she takes care of for both restaurants and Fruition Farm.

Abbie Minton

Abbie Minton

Assistant Manager/Sommelier

Abbie Minton

Assistant Manager/Sommelier

Abbie grew up in St. Louis but her love for Colorado began during annual childhood ski trips. She started in the hospitality industry at the age of 14 slinging milk shakes and chicken salad at the local pharmacy/old fashioned soda shoppe during high school. Her love affair with wine, especially Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, began while on a college trip overseas trip to Rome, Italy. Upon returning home, she started working as a host at Brasserie by Niche and became serious about wine as she was only allowed to have a book related to food or wine at the host stand during down times. She purchased “The Wine Bible”, read it cover to cover and started “getting into juice and understanding the world of wine”.
After college, Abbie moved to Vail, Colorado working for the adaptive Ski program at Vail Resorts and La Tour Restaurant where she quickly moved up the ranks by becoming the GM within three years. She passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Introductory Exam in November 2015 and started working at Mercantile in 2016. Her long term goals are to pass the Advanced Sommelier Exam, to work in a Michelin starred restaurant and to move back to Italy to make wine permanently wearing overalls, hunter boots and only talking to grapes, her close friends and family.

Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe

Beverage Director

Nick Lowe

Beverage Director

Nick Lowe hails from Gainesville Florida. He started working as a restaurant server in Pittsburgh where he was enrolled in the Music Department at Duquesne University. In 2003 he moved to Washington DC to pursue a professional musical career with a brass quintet. Even though music was at the time his first love, he continued to work in the hospitality industry. In 2009, he got his first full-time position bartending and never looked back. He worked at Ceiba and Acadiana Restaurants, The Jack Rose Dining Saloon and was a co-founder of Dram & Grain, a cocktail concept in the basement of Jack Rose where bartenders focused on seasonality, fresh ingredients and high quality spirits to create well-crafted cocktails.
Nick moved to Denver in 2014. He is a self described nerd who is constantly inspired by changing trends in cocktails be it products, recipes or techniques. He finds the relationship between chef and bartender one of the most inspirational and it is always pushing him to create new flavors by using culinary techniques to transform traditional food ingredients into cocktails.

Back of the House

Matt Vawter

Matt Vawter

Chef de Cuisine/Proprietor

Matt Vawter

Chef de Cuisine/Proprietor

A Colorado native, Matt was raised in the Rocky Mountains in Summit County. Matt began his culinary career at the age of fourteen, cooking at the locals' favorite breakfast restaurant, The Claimjumper. Intrigued by the pace and heat of the kitchen, Vawter knew instinctively that this was his path. At fifteen, Matt was ready to challenge himself with a higher level of cuisine, and began work at The Keystone Ranch, under Chef David Welch. After one year of working in the brigade, Matt officially began his culinary apprenticeship (while still a junior in high school). Colorado Mountain Culinary Institute gave Matt the opportunity to work and learn in Keystone’s best restaurants. After a five year tenure with Vail Resorts, Matt joined the opening team at The Cellar, a small plates wine bar in Breckenridge, CO. Under Chef Mike Weist, Matt moved through the ranks of the kitchen and quickly found himself as the Sous Chef. Several years later, Matt relocated to Denver and in 2007 Matt began working at Fruition Restaurant under the mentorship of Chef Alex Seidel. Like all cooks at Fruition, Matt started in garde-manger and once again quickly rose through the ranks to become Fruition's Chef de Cuisine. In June 2014 Matt received the Zagat Award "30 under 30 culinary game changers". Matt believes that Mercantile dining & provision provides a unique platform to both share artisan products and create memorable food for the community.

Josh Hall

Josh Hall

Sous Chef

Josh Hall

Sous Chef

Josh grew up in Vermont and developed his love of food and cooking from his father and by obsessively watching culinary television shows, in particular his favorite "Great Chefs of the World". From an early age he would often cook alongside his Dad and they redeveloped a family traditional spinach pie into their signature calzone. After graduating high school Josh was torn between going to art school or cooking school and he chose the latter because he felt that he could still be artistic using food. He graduated from the New England Culinary Institute, spent the last fourteen years in the Rocky Mountains and was chef at Le Petit Paris in Breckenridge, Colorado before joining Mercantile.

Danielle Soranno

Danielle Soranno

Sous Chef