Rising Star Artisan Gregory Laketek of West Loop Salumi - Biography

Chicago, IL

May 2015

Gregory 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 in his castle (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.