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Exploring the World of Sake with Elliot J. Faber – A Journey from Passion to Sake Samurai

Sake, a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, is often described as rich, complex, yet refined and balanced. Such words can also be used to describe one Elliot J. Faber, Canada’s honorary Sake Samurai, whose journey is a testament to the power of following one's heart. From his early days studying to be a sommelier straight out of university to becoming a recognized figure in the global sake community, Faber's story is a fascinating exploration of turning what was once a hobby into a life-long professional passion project.

Fueled by a childhood love for Japanese culture, Faber grew to find a deeper connection with Japan through its food. As he delved into the world of Japanese food while studying in Canada, he unwittingly discovered a burgeoning passion for sake through a trip to Vancouver.  

Beginning with a trip to Granville Island, Faber stumbled upon the Artisan Sakemaker, which at the time was one of North America’s pioneering sake breweries. Stepping inside its doors to a chance meeting with owner Masa Shiroki (a sake master in his own right) laid the foundation for Faber’s continuous pursuit and growing love for sake.

However it wasn't until moving to Hong Kong in 2011, amongst starting impactful ventures like Yardbird, Ronin, and Sunday's Grocery, were Faber’s eyes opened to the possibility of seriously continuing a profession in sake. Having platforms within the F&B industry had not only cultivated his knowledge for alcohol but also led him to resources and communities that took him further down the rabbit hole and eventually inspired him to co-author his first book alongside Hayato Hishinuma.

Faber's publication of “Sake: The History, Stories and Craft of Japan's Artisanal Breweries” marked an important milestone in his career. The book itself is a compendium that delves into the intricacies of sake, giving readers an insight into his extensive research and unique experiences through the years he had studied the traditional Japanese beverage.

His book catapulted Faber into the spotlight, putting him on the radar of the Japan National Brewers Association. In recognition of his significant contributions to the sake industry, he was subsequently bestowed with the prestigious title "Sake Samurai", an accolade recognized by sake artisans with considerable influence, history, and pedigree. Faber’s nomination and acceptance of the title was the pinnacle of his career, marked with a special ceremony held at the historic Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto, where he donned traditional Japanese garb.

The Sake Samurai title came with a responsibility to uphold and promote sake culture, a challenge Faber enthusiastically embraces. He now had a goal transcending personal enrichment: He aspired to elevate sake culture globally. Despite the majority of sake produced in Japan, Faber recognized the emerging sake culture outside the country and aimed to bridge the gap, exploring and sharing adapted techniques and cultures from around the world.

Faber's dedication to sake culture has taken an exciting detour with his latest venture—an exclusive takeover at The Golden Tooth Jakarta. During this limited-time engagement, Faber unveiled his avant-garde approach to sake appreciation, transforming The Golden Tooth into a haven for creativity and exploration.

The Golden Tooth, a canvas for Elliot's ingenuity, featured a series of distinctive and fleeting creations. Among these, the 'Yuzu Tooth' and 'Scotch Berry' emerge as standout examples of his ability to push the boundaries of flavor. The 'Yuzu Tooth' delights with a temporary fusion of citrus yuzu and the nuanced complexity of sake, while the bold 'Scotch Berry' marries the rich, smoky notes of Scotch with its sweetness. These ephemeral concoctions not only elevate the drinking experience but also serve as a testament to Faber’s dedication in evolving sake culture in unexpected and imaginative ways.

While The Golden Tooth’s takeover was a temporary spectacle, Faber’s mission extends far beyond the confines of any single establishment. Through initiatives such as this, he endeavors to educate a global audience about the subtleties and pleasures of sake. By introducing his inventive sake-infused creations, Faber invites individuals from all walks of life to engage in the intense exploration of diverse flavors.

Whether seasoned sake enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of Japanese spirits, Faber’s mission is to demystify sake, making it a transient yet memorable experience for everyone. Through tastings, workshops, and engaging events, he shares his wealth of knowledge, fostering a deeper appreciation for the artistry behind each fleeting creation.

As he continues to blend tradition with modernity and extend his educational endeavors, Faber invites enthusiasts and novices alike to join him on a sake journey that transcends borders and embraces the fleeting beauty of the moment. Through his dedication and love for Japanese culture, Faber has not only carved a niche for himself in the sake world but has also left an indelible mark, enriching the global tapestry of spirits with the nuanced flavors and stories of sake. Follow Faber’s ephemeral journey— a sake adventure that promises to be as diverse and evanescent as the world of sake itself.

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