Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Ian Wortham, the chef di cucina at nationally acclaimed Boulder restaurant Frasca Food and Wine: he went to school to be a photographer. But during his years at Ithaca College in New York, he also cooked. After graduating, Wortham decided that rather than pursue a life behind the lens, he wanted to cook some more. The New Jersey native moved to Colorado, attended culinary school, and started working at Frasca three-and-a-half years ago. Although his training as a photographer has its benefits (especially when it comes to plating dishes), the chef has come to prefer the focused nature of the kitchen: “What I like about cooking, you’re actually making something that someone is going to eat and it’s a real thing.” Here, he talks about another form of artistry—Frasca’s finely tuned, front-to-back-of-house approach to hospitality.
5280: Frasca is renowned not just for the food and wine, but also for providing top-notch hospitality. Does that philosophy carry over to the back of house as well?
IW: After working in restaurants for a long time, it was always the cooks complaining about the front of the house. It shouldn’t be like that. [At Frasca] we’re a team that delivers an experience to the guest. I think that’s why people come back. The kitchen staff will actually sit for line up [pre-shift meetings], now to hear Bobby [Stuckey, Frasca co-owner and master sommelier] talk about different hospitality stuff. It’s kind of like bringing both parts of the restaurant together to make it about hospitality. So that’s good for all of us to hear. We’re ingraining that philosophy in everybody, down to each station on the line.
What I’ve learned at Frasca, probably the number one thing, is that we’re there for the guest to have a great experience, and that experience is so much more than food. If we didn’t have the front of the house staff that we have, it wouldn’t be the same. If we didn’t have the facility and the concept that Bobby and Lachlann [Mackinnon-Paterson, Frasca co-owner and chef] created, then it wouldn’t be the same. The food is a part of it, but also all those other things.