You might not know of Lucas Wentzel personally, but if you’ve ever tasted his food you won’t forget it. A private chef and caterer extraordinaire, Wentzel and his team - including wife Chrissy - have been building a reputation for themselves in the area for the last four years.
Colorado born, but with Swiss heritage, Lucas Wentzel started on his culinary journey when he was just 12 years old, working as a kitchen hand in a restaurant in Steamboat Springs. His dual nationality allowed him to move to Switzerland to continue culinary school at what is now called the Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland when he was still a teenager.
Stints in Lauerz, Lugano, Bern, and Gstaad in Switzerland followed before he moved back to the US. Eventually the family moved to Colorado when wife Chrissy became pregnant.
“I applied at multiple restaurants but couldn't find a job for more than $14 an hour, so my wife Chrissy put a post on Telluride Sweet Deals about my experience as a chef and pictures of food I've served saying I was a private chef available for hire. A couple of days later someone sent us a message about catering an event. A year later we created Luca’s Ravioli “
Although Luca’s repertoire is varied, his signature dish is a variation on the classic Italian filled pasta, and attendees at this year’s Montrose Food and Wine and Telluride Wine Festival had an opportunity to try it.
“Rosé Valentina is a rolled ravioli and is made with béchamel, Black Forest ham, and Parmesan rolled into homemade pasta then gratinated and served on a warm bed of tomato herb cream sauce finished with a butter sage drizzle.”
Attendees would have seen that Luca wasn’t alone. Indeed, Luca’s Ravioli is far from a one-man operation. As the saying goes, behind every good man is an even better woman, and in Luca’s case there are at least two: sous chef Angela who puts in long hours and can be trusted with very little direction, and wife Chrissy.
“Without Chrissy I'd probably be a used car salesman that just cooks good food at home,” he says. “She is the reason we got into the business; we have been married for five years yet she still supports and encourages me every day.”
Luca’s food is to die for. He is a regular at wine and food festivals, most recently at Montrose Food & Wine and the 40th anniversary edition of Telluride Wine Festival where they were part of the team at the Wayfinder marquee in Mountain Village (that stole the show, if we do say so ourselves). The small but mighty contingent also included Storm King Distilling Co., Alpen Confections, Uncompahgre Farms, and the remarkably good fun Sabering Sommelier.