Greg Laketek spent summers with family in Italy. His earliest memories are of his grandfather taking him to friends’ farms to eat cheese, salumi, bread, and wine. When Laketek took a brief off-ramp into the world of corporate consulting as an adult, it was just a technicality, a sideways route to a deeper culinary calling.
Back in the States, Laketek graduated from University of Kansas, using his business degree to start a consulting company. Warm Italian summer days still glowing in his heart, a restlessness kicked in, and Laketek found his daily office life less and less fulfilling. Laketek enrolled in culinary school, still unsure what his next step would be. It was only when he and a friend began discussing the lack of quality charcuterie in Chicago that the light bulb finally went off.
Once it went off, Laketek was all in—even seeking out the renowned Massimo Spigaroli for a never-been-done internship at his salumeria. Working alongside Spigaroli at Antica Corte Pallavicina (which also houses two Michelin-rated restaurants), Laketek learned the art of salumi. Four years later, in April of 2013, Laketek was back in Chicago, ready to open the doors of West Loop Salumi—the first USDA-certified salumeria in the city, serving clients, including Grant Achatz, Jose Garces, Tom Colicchio, and Eataly.
After gaining much notoriety for his work, including placements on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the Zagat 30 Under 30 among others, his business suffered a disastrous water leak that destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of meats and inventory. While unfortunate at the time, it opened the door for a new business partner.
Chef Greg was introduced to entrepreneur, and owner of Chicago-based Moesle Meat Company, Joel Janecek. Logistically, a partnership provided them both with an exciting opportunity. Joel with an opportunity to grow his current offerings, and Greg with the chance to get back to doing what he loves with improved sourcing. Together, they formed Salumi Chicago, and haven't looked back.
While producing under a new brand label, Master Salumiere Greg is still producing the same high quality meats that have been winning awards for years. Individuals who seek out the finest quality salumi, including Grant Achatz (Alinea Group, Next Restaurant), Giada De Laurentiis(giadadelaurentiis.com), and John Coletta (Gibson’s Restaurant group), have been quick to note that Greg is back at it.
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