The Team at Mercantile

Alex Seidel

Chef/Proprietor

Chef Seidel is the owner of Fruition Restaurant, Fruition Farms Creamery, Füdmill, Chook Charcoal Chicken and Mercantile dining & provision. 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. 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; and 5280 magazine has included Fruition in its list of 25 Best Restaurants. 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 was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Southwest” honor numerous times, and garnered the award in 2018. 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 (fruitionfarmscreamery.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, a sheep’s milk yogurt called SheepSkyr, and a feta. 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!!"

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.

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

Spirit-ual Advisor

Back of the House

Matt Vawter

Matt Vawter

Executive Chef/Proprietor

Matt Vawter

Executive Chef/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. Since opening, Matt has also received Star Chefs ‘Rising Star’ award and was a semi-finalist for Eater’s ‘Young Guns’. He has also been involved in Summit County’s ProStart Program, and was named Mentor of the Year in 2018.

Matt’s free time is consumed mostly with spending time with his wife, Christy and two children. They enjoy skiing and hiking, mountain biking and running. He tends a garden in his backyard every summer and loves learning about anything related to the culinary world.

Danny Vacca

Danny Vacca

Chef de Cuisine

Elaine Gardner

Elaine Gardner

Sous Chef

Andrew Lauer

Andrew Lauer

Sous Chef