An Interview with Alpinist (and Master Sommelier) Bobby Stuckey

An Interview with Alpinist (and Master Sommelier) Bobby Stuckey

Those who love wine might be familiar with the name Bobby Stuckey. His restaurant Frasca Food & Wine is widely regarded as one of the best in Colorado. The Boulder based Master Sommelier and Restaurateur previously held court at the famed Little Nell in Aspen, and Thomas Keller's incomparable French Laundry. In 2014, he was honored with the title of Sommelier of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. In short, he's kind of a big deal, although Bobby couldn't be more friendly, knowledgeable, and humble. He's the kind of guy you'd want to ride the chairlift with. We caught up with Bobby recently to chat about his philosophies on food, wine, and what he likes to drink after a day on the slopes. 

 

Alps & Meters: You moved to Boulder after a long stint at Aspen's Little Nell (one of our favorite slope-side hotels, ever...), and a three year tenure at Thomas Keller's famed French Laundry. What made you decide to make the move? Why Boulder for Frasca? 

Bobby: The number one reason that we chose Boulder was the lifestyle. I knew I loved Colorado, but we also wanted to be close to my husband Danette's father. Our Chef at Frasca Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson was also keen to call Boulder home after our time together at The French Laundry.

Alps & Meters: Frasca Food & Wine is well regarded as one of the best restaurants in CO. What was your initial vision for the restaurant? What has changed, and what do you think the restaurant does best? 

Bobby: Our original vision for Frasca is still the same. We have our pen and paper mission statement hung on the wall in the office. Twelve years later, we've seen every trend come and go, but what we do remains the same. When we opened Frasca, our goal was to be the #1 neighborhood restaurant in the world some day. We knew we had to keep evolving, but the tenets of hospitality and great food and wine are the same. You can come into Frasca for a special occasion, or drop in like a regular for a plate of prosciutto and a glass of wine at the bar. 

Alps & Meters: You're writing a book about a region that's very special to you in Italy. What sets Friuli-Venezia Guilia apart for you, both in terms of the wine and the food/culture? 

Bobby: We're really lucky that we chose Friuli-Venezia Giulia...the mere dumb luck that we chose that region to stake our flag in has kept us fresh, because we have the ability to delve deeper into the food and wine of that particular place. Friuli is interesting because it's where the northern part of Italian culture, western part of European culture, and southern part of Austrian culture all collide. That's really special. We travel there often and love sending our staff there to experience it themselves.

On our first trip, Lachlan and I were sitting there eating veal shank at a restaurant called La Subida in Cormons. It was so delicious, and we just looked at each other thinking, 'this is really just very simply roasted veal with some vegetables? Can it be that good?' And it was. We've probably eaten in that dining room now over 50 times and we're still inspired by what the Sirk family does. 

 

Alps & Meters: What do you do on your days off? What's your favorite way to spend time in the mountains? 

Bobby: Sunday is the one day a week that I take off, so I usually go for a run on the trails or dirt roads north of Boulder. Because I only take one day off a week, I'm a religious napper. My wife Danette marches me upstairs, puts some opera on and tucks me in for my nap. I'm a 47 year old man who still gets tucked in. We usually listen to some vinyl and drink some wine when I get up. 

Alps & Meters: Did you grow up skiing? When did you form a connection to the mountains?

Bobby: I grew up in Arizona, so my parents used to take my brother and I skiing at Apache Sunrise in Arizona. But our first ski trip was in 1979 to Telluride. It was within the first decade that it opened as a ski area. Since those early trips, it still remains a very special place for the whole family. I proposed to Danette there 18 years ago, we were there this summer, and we try to get back often. 

I was very lucky to get the position at The Little Nell in my mid-20's. The only time I haven't been close to the mountains was my tour in Napa. It's a gorgeous place, and I loved The French Laundry, but Danette says I'm more settled in the mountains. 

Alps & Meters: What does Designed by Tradition mean to you? How do you apply that philosophy at Frasca, Pizzeria Locale, and with your wine label Scarpetta

Bobby: That philosophy is really intertwined with everything we do. At Frasca for example, the restaurant is based on this hospitality and the craft of making people feel good that you see so clearly in Friuli. It's not a trendy restaurant. We're so rooted in tradition, it's really what we're all about.

With our wine label Scarpetta, we're not making trend driven wines. We're making classic, pure, varietally correct wines out of Northern Italy that speak to the tradition of winemaking in that region. We're not re-inventing the wheel. 

Locale is really based on the traditional neapolitan pizzeria. That legacy informs everything from the toppings to the crust of our pizzas. 

Alps & Meters: Favorite apres ski spot? 

Bobby: Of course it has to be the Nell. I love going down and seeing Carlton (McCoy, Wine Director) in the bar. For Christmas, Danette and I gave ourselves a trip to Aspen. We spent some time there in January.

If i get up and get right on the mountain at 9 am and ski as hard as I can by myself, I'm in perfect shape to meet up with Danette around 2 pm and aprés at Ajax or downstairs at The Nell. 

Alps & Meters: Favorite aprés ski drink? 

Bobby: I'll usually double fist and have a beer first. If I'm drinking beer, my favorite is Anchor Steam. Ajax Tavern has a lot of really cool wines on their list. In January we drank the Pelican Arbois Chardonnay and dipped potatoes into fondue...nothing better.