On the morning of July 5, Denver lost a leader of its culinary community when Brandon Foster unexpectedly passed away in Summit County. He left behind his wife, Larissa, and three children, Amelia, Ella, and Harrison. Among Foster’s many professional accomplishments, he was the executive chef at Project Angel Heart and a chef at Vesta for 11 years. He was also a beloved mentor to the Denver culinary community.

A GoFundMe campaign in Foster’s honor and in support of his family has already exceeded its $100,000 goal, but others are stepping up to help, too. Chef Jeff Osaka (Sushi-Rama, Osaka Ramen, formerly 12 at Madison), a friend of Foster’s, is auctioning off the artwork that hung inside 12 at Madison and donating the proceeds to Foster’s family.

“Brandon and I developed a friendship through the tight-knit community that the restaurant business is here,” Osaka says. “We were once neighbors, when I had the original 12 restaurant and Brandon was at Vesta. Over the years, we did a number of events together, from the Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner at Devil’s Thumb Ranch to traveling to Delaware together for the Celebrity Chefs’ Brunch for Meals on Wheels. And we played a number of rounds of golf together over the years—away from the kitchen and out on the green.”

The artwork for the auction is something special: 88 two-inch-by-two-inch paintings by local artist Jonathan Saiz, who has exhibited at the Denver Art Museum and K Contemporary. “It was the only art we ever displayed at 12 at Madison,” Osaka says. “Jonathan had been a regular at the original 12, and when I shared that I was reopening the concept at Madison, he wanted to be a part of it. We sat and chatted as I shared my vision for the new space, and from there Jonathan conceptualized and let the creativity take over.”

When the restaurant closed permanently in late May, Saiz donated the pieces; when the tragedy occurred on July 5, Osaka finally knew what to do with the paintings. To purchase one or more of the little works of art for yourself, head to 12 at Madison’s Facebook page and bid in the comments. The auction will run through Friday, July 17 at midnight and winners will be notified on July 20 to coordinate pick-up. All of the proceeds will go to Foster’s family.

“Brandon was not only one of the greatest chefs I’ve known, but also one of the kindest. It’s a small gesture, but I hope that by auctioning off Jonathan’s paintings we can help honor the man that Brandon was.”

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.