Obituary: Johannes (John) Lorenzen, June 24, 1930, to March 25, 2018
John Lorenzen was born in Leck, Germany, in 1930, the fourth of five boys. Growing up, he and his brothers got into their share of mischief and were always the first to be blamed, even if not the actual culprits. At age 14, it was time for him to leave home and start his apprenticeship as a butcher.
After completing his training, he worked in butcher stores throughout Germany. Being adventurous and wanting to see the world, he took a job on a passenger ship working in the kitchen as a saucier. The ship traveled to New York, where he immigrated in 1958, gaining sponsorship (a requirement in the 1950s) working in a sausage kitchen.
On New Year’s Eve 1958, he met his future wife, Ann Honigmann, at a European dance. When the evening ended, he was left without a way to contact her. At the time, New York, much like today, had its cultural neighborhoods. Returning to the neighborhood of the dance, he asked around to see if anyone knew her. After a lot of searching, he heard word she would be at the upcoming holiday dance. He arrived and finally met up with the love of his life. They were married Sept. 13, 1959.
In 1960, they moved to California and bought a house in Huntington Beach. Four years after entering the United States, John became a U.S. citizen in 1962. He worked as a manager in the meat department in grocery stores. They had three kids (two boys and a girl). After 12 years in California, it was time for a change. Being the aforementioned adventurous type, a fresh start in the mountains of Colorado was sought. In 1972, after looking in Aspen, they decided to settle in Vail.
There were a number of men and women who made their mark in Vail Valley in the ’70s and ’80s. One of these personalities was John Lorenzen. John was hired by Vail Associates to oversee the Central Kitchen, Warehouse and Purchasing operation that supported Vail Food Service’s at Mid-Vail, the Cook Shack, Wildwood, the Far East Shelter, Golden Peak, Lionshead, Frasier’s Bar, Eagles Nest and the Weinstube.
His no-nonsense work ethic was a perfect match for the role he played as executive chef, based out of the Lionshead gondola building. In addition to preparing the delicious soups, chilies and stews each day, John prided himself in creating the daily specials offered at the various restaurants. On average, he was responsible for feeding 5,000 hungry skiers each day.
During the summers, he catered to convention groups — large and small — and loved to put on great feasts when special events were held, such as the 10th Mountain Division reunions, the Jerry Ford Golf Classic and the annual mountaintop Octoberfest celebration. One of his favorites was the outdoor lamb roast at Eagles Nest when he teamed up with the Jouflas family to feed a thousand attendees for the benefit of Eagle County Schools.
He was quite a character to those who knew him and never hesitated to have fun along the way. His Green Weenie competition on St. Patrick’s Day, the Easter egg hunts in April and the famed All-Town Parties at the close of each ski season will never be forgotten by those who indulged in John’s great fare.
After working for the ski company for 10 years, he and his wife Ann opened Pier 13 Deli and Liquor in Eagle-Vail. As a sidelight to their business, John was the “main man” during the hunting season for butchering wild game for all the local hunters in the valley.
In 1988, he and his family moved back to California and settled in a small town, Temecula, where they opened and ran another successful deli and catering business, Euro Deli. They sold that business in 1994 and semi-retired. John did continue to do catering for special clients, as working with food and people was his greatest satisfaction.
John is survived by his loving wife, Ann, his three children, Jeff, Peter and Kathleen, and five grandchildren.
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