Get co-op owner #421 Greg Czekala talking about food and pretty soon he’ll be talking about his mother, grandmother, and all the other people who have inspired him to become what he is now: owner and executive chef of Broken Plate Catering. From mom’s kitchen, to his first job at the Elbow Room, to Branch River Country Club where he was encouraged by an older chef to pursue cooking as a career, Greg carries his influences with him.
Broken Plate is both a catering service and a restaurant. As a catering service, they take jobs both big and small. “The biggest event I have done is a wedding for about 500,” said Greg, “but as in serving people in a day, one day we had 5 events in 3 different cities totaling about 1500. That was a crazy day.”
Greg finds catering challenging but rewarding. The challenge is making sure everything is done at the right time and then making sure the quality is consistent. The reward is “bringing people together through the food I make.”
The restaurant has the feel of a typical neighborhood eatery, but with a menu that will appeal to “foodies”. The pork, beef, and eggs are all locally sourced, the chicken coming from Sheboygan. Greg often makes his own stocks for soups and his own jams. “I don’t like opening cans and boxes. As much as possible, I don’t do that.”
The Farmer’s Market is another source for Broken Plate’s ingredients. And hopefully soon, The Clipper City Co-Op will be still another piece of the supply puzzle. “The co-op is important to me for the same reason food is important to me, it brings people together. Even talking about it can bring people together as me and my fiancé’s first chats were about the co-op and local sustainability.”
Greg is confident the Clipper City Co-Op will be helpful to local businesses. It will keep more money here in Manitowoc, draw people to other small businesses downtown, and “also, because it gets to show the abundance of greatness that is in the community.”
Like so many other businesses, Broken Plate Catering has been hit hard by the social distancing required by the Coronoavirus. With no large groups of people getting together, the catering end of the business has come to a virtual standstill. Fortunately, people seem to be aware of how this is affecting local businesses and have been doing what they can to make a difficult time a little less difficult. It’s all part of the philosophy behind the Clipper City Co-Op, the idea of fostering a sense of community and interdependence.
Global pandemic aside, Greg can see causes for optimism for the future. “I do believe there is a huge local food movement and it will only get greater with time.”
Indeed, that is what the Clipper City Co-Op is all about.
For ordering information or to find out more about Broken Plate, check out their website: https://brokenplatecatering.com/.or find them on Facebook at Broken Plate Catering.