Wild Catch will reopen with ex-Mizuna executive chef Tony Clement behind the burners

tonyclement.jpg
Courtesy of MizunaDenver.com
Tony Clement, formerly of Mizuna, is the new consulting exec chef of Wild Catch.
Three weeks ago, on a Saturday, notable chef Justin Brunson sailed away from Wild Catch, the sustainable seafood restaurant he opened with Daniel Kuhlman in late August, after alleging that Kuhlman refused to reveal the restaurant's financials. Brunson's staff -- both the front and back of the house -- followed suit, but Kuhlman, who steadfastly refutes Brunson's accusations, insisted that he would reopen Wild Catch earlier this month.

He didn't quite make his deadline, but Wild Catch will reopen -- and when it does, Tony Clement, the former executive chef of Mizuna, will be spearheading the kitchen, while his wife, Mandi, also a former Bonanno employee, will oversee the front of the house. Both are on board as consultants.

"Someone -- I'm not sure who -- gave our names to Daniel, and we all got together last week to talk about the restaurant, and since we don't want this beautiful space to sit empty, we're coming on as consultants," says Mandi, who adds that she and Tony have also started their own catering company, which is now on the back-burner. "We're taking a step back to concentrate on this concept."

A concept, she says, that "will definitely go through some changes." The name -- Wild Catch -- will remain the same, at least for the time being, but Tony's menu, notes Mandi, won't. "We're planning to do American comfort food -- fish, some game meats and different cuts of beef -- and the focus will be on affordability and putting as much effort as we can on sourcing local, organic and sustainable ingredients," she explains. Entrees, she notes, will be in the $20 to $30 range. "It's important to us that people can afford to come back."

As for the space, Mandi reveals that it won't undergo any substantial alterations. "We may do some minor modifications down the line, but it's a very clean, modern and simple space, and we'd like to keep it that way," she says.

Wild Catch is having a friends and family dinner on Sunday, but the opening date hasn't been solidified. "Our first day in here was yesterday, so absolutely nothing is set in stone, and until we hire and train a staff, which is all new, we're not going to nail down a date," she says. "Before we open, we want to make sure that we have the highest standards of service in place."

Mandi and Tony haven't made any concrete decisions about their tenure at Wild Catch, but Mandi does say this: "This is a good step for us regardless of how long we're here, and we want to do whatever we can to get up and running and make this a restaurant that puts out really good food."



Location Info

Wild Catch - CLOSED

1033 E. 17th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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28 comments
TheOtherSide
TheOtherSide

Wow, so many opinions and predictions that are obviously based on pure ignorance and full of unwarranted venom. Why condemn two people to failure before they have even begun? I know from personal experience that Tony and Mandi are both more than qualified for this challenge, their talents and expertise in the service industry and their attention to quality and perfection makes them a valuable asset. The sky is the limit for this power couple and Wild Catch is lucky to have them on board.

davebarnes
davebarnes

"as consultants"Which is code for: "we are being paid, in cash, in advance, for our services".

"Daniel also announced that he would be filing for Bankruptcy."Interesting. This is the first time that I have read this.What does this mean for Tastes on Tennyson?

Doughboy
Doughboy

Y'know, maybe the blame for holiday unemployment should be laid at the feet of Justin as well.  From all appearances, he didn't have to leave in November.  He could have stayed on until January, let the front of house and his friends in the kitchen work the busy season and make some cash to buy gifts and celebrate for the holidays.  If he's such a spoiled brat to leave even his compadres in the lurch, he could be labeled the Scrooge of this story just as easily as Kuhlman.

Sucker for the Industry
Sucker for the Industry

Cheeky media sure is spoiling job pursuits for some of us hard-working, career-minded EX-Wild Catch Front-of-House staff members. WE ALL SHOWED UP TO WORK at 3:30pm that horrific Saturday... only then to witness the kitchen staff long gone... only then to be told by a teary-eyed manager that dinner reservations had already been cancelled for the remainder of the weekend. We were merely offered brisket as a last "Family Meal", invited to share a "CLOSING" bottle of champagne and then asked to gather our belongings before the 'smith showed up to change the locks on us. (Rumor had it that calls were put out to other restaurants, chef and manager friends, to help us all find jobs before the holidays which yielded NO response. Great timing!) Daniel also announced that he would be filing for Bankruptcy. Good luck to that sorry space. A black cloud hovers above this venue; It is far from lifting.

Sandee
Sandee

So he hired two people to consult and then they'll hand it over to someone who is actually making the food and then it'll just suck.

Let me see...if a tree falls flat on its face and no one is there to care...

Lady
Lady

I like and trust Justin Brunson, he's a very talented chef, cant wait to see where he lands next... 

IGiveThem6Months
IGiveThem6Months

Focusing on $20-30 entrees and affordability seems like an oxymoron.

FinerFOODforThought
FinerFOODforThought

Sure, but if this consulting couple does not OWN the restaurant, maybe I'd rather spend my good money elsewhere, where an entire company is honest and decent to its staff, vendors and the community.

JD
JD

Then you knows "from personal experience" that Tony got fired from Mizuna. Frank Bonanno, a respected restaurateur, didn't see him as a valuable asset.

guest
guest

I concur 100%! This dynamic duo WILL be a saving grace for Wild Catch! 

Mantonat
Mantonat

I don't remember any part of the story involving the chef staging a coup and marching his troops out of the restaurant. He quit and a bunch of others chose to follow him - certainly a bad situation for those who wanted (or needed) to keep working there, but the continued unemployment of others is hardly his fault. In either case, it's only been a couple of weeks since the place shut down so the owner could easily choose to contact front-of-house staff for the re-opening if he desired.

Brian Melton
Brian Melton

We've been trying Sucker For The Industry — People like your bartender Jon who we found a home at Crave. Please, send me your resume at bmelton@leighsullivan.com and I'll do my best to help you.

JD
JD

How is Mr. Kulhman going to pay this sucker, I mean chef? He still owes investors, vendors, and former staff.

Weege
Weege

Thought the same

payup!
payup!

Coming from an environment like mizuna, $20-$30 entrees do seem affordable. Go 1%!!!

TheOtherSide
TheOtherSide

If you only spend your good money in establishments where you approve of the ethics of the owner, then your circle of establishments you frequent must be small. Regardless of who OWNS the Wild Catch, it is the Clements that will be establishing relationships with staff, vendors and the community. If you knew anything at all about Tony and Mandi, you would know that their honesty and integrity is what makes them perfect for this opportunity and I expect they will be working side by side with their staff. They both come from the "trenches" and know how important a pleasant working environment is for their staff and will also create an enjoyable dining experience for their customers.

flipside
flipside

"Tony is bar none the most talented chef I've ever worked with or had work for me. No question about it. It was brilliant of them to hire him. If anyone could have kept Wild Catch exactly as Wild Catch, I think Tony could have done it because I think he's just that fucking good. If I had to go on Iron Chef and I could only take one chef that's worked for me, it's fucking Tony." -Frank Bonanno

flipside
flipside

There is always two sides to every story. You have some pretty strong opinions; bitter about something I'm sure. Knowing the Bonanno's well, I can confindently say they value all of their employees past and present. There is no doubt Tony is a talented chef.... speaking of which, have you even had the opportunity to taste his cooking? I'd say put a sock in it until you do.

TheOtherSide
TheOtherSide

Frank is held in high regard and Tony was in his employ for many years. Knowing Frank, I doubt that he shares your opinion of Tony's value

Dieter
Dieter

I went there once and the food was amazing!! I could careless who "OWNS" Wild Catch as long as the food is good and the staff is friendly!! And which the staff as friendly!! Im going be going back there and often!!!

Martysteinke
Martysteinke

Fuck yeah frank!! I agree with you! Couldn't have summed it up better!

JD
JD

If you do go on Iron Chef, make sure Thomas Keller isn't judging, because he'll want his Lobster Mac 'n Cheese recipe back!

JD
JD

I wanted to taste his food, but you fired him before I got a chance.

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