Elan Wenzel is Sushi Chef and Owner of Element Knife Company in Denver, CO. We get the opportunity to discuss his grandparents profound affect on his life. He is grateful for a moment when he realized it was time to take culinary school seriously and start to thrive in this industry. Chef Wenzel worked for 13 years at the iconic Sushi Sasa in Denver, CO, which is practically multiple lifetimes in restaurant years. He reflects on many great people he has had the chance to work along-side. Ultimately it was a love Japanese cutlery and a Japanese traveling salesman that change the trajectory of Elan's path. We also get to chat with TJ Hobbs, former chef and now working in a support role for restaurants. Find out why Elan holds him and his work in such high regard.
Website - ElementKnife.com
Facebook - /ElementKnifeCompany /ElanWenzel
Instagram - @ElementKnifeCompany @ChefElanWenzel
Twitter - @ElementKnifeCo
TikTok - @Element.Knife.Company
Where were you born / raised?
Born in Boulder, raised in Louisville, Colorado
First job in the industry?
Dishwasher, Busser - Bart's Restaurant, in Louisville from age 15-17 years old
Proudest moment of your career?
Turning my grades and attitude around in culinary school and graduating Apprentice of the Year. Training sushi in Japan in 2004. Taking my love affair of knives and creating a business. Winning recognition for having cooked at the James Beard House with the Colorado five in 2017 and again as the alum chef in 2018. Finding myself in a position to give back through education and support.
Two things most people don't know about you?
I played the flute through Freshman year of high school. Peanut Butter & Jelly would be my deserted island food
Food and/or drinks staples in your house?
In no particular order....La Croix, raw tortillas, cheese of all varieties, hummus, butter, shio-koji, crackers/chips, eggs, short grain rice
Words to live by?
Actions speak louder than words
After medaling in American Culinary Federation cooking competitions, Chef Wenzel graduated from Colorado Mountain Culinary Institute as Apprentice of the Year. Subsequently, he studied in Japan, and was exposed to a broad array of cutlery, tools, sharpening stones, and techniques. Now, after more than two decades in the industry, he has developed a much deeper appreciation for Japanese cutlery. Chef Wenzel continued working as a sushi chef in Colorado, most notably Denver’s best Sushi Restaurant, Sushi Sasa. After having won recognition for cooking at the James Beard House in NYC with The Colorado FIVE, he continues to stay active with his local community of chefs and nationally with events like Cochon555. He feels that education, support and empowerment are the answer to giving back.