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January 20, 2011

New Gourmet Catering, Deli and Butcher Shop Seeks to Fill Untapped Niche

By Alexis Abel

Gourmet food is in the blood of Kevin Mandigo and his wife, Shalla Powell-Mandigo, and they're bringing their wealth of culinary experience and knowledge to Lincoln via Greta’s Gourmet Butcher Shop, Deli and Catering, a gourmet food store and catering business that opened on Tuesday.

Mandigo is the son of University of Nebraska meat scientist Dr. Robert Mandigo, who was recently inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for his contribution to the research that led to McDonald’s McRib sandwich.

Coming from such meat royalty, it’s no surprise that the Mandigos would choose to open a butcher shop in Lincoln. Greta’s Gourmet, located at 5660 S. 48th St. and named after their 3-year-old daughter, offers Lincolnites a variety of services and products previously unseen.

Greta’s offers a full-service butcher shop that brings in fresh primal cuts of meat each week, including certified Angus beef, fresh poultry, pork and seafood. All meat is cut and seasoned in-house. If you desire a cut or seasoning that can’t be found on the shelf at Greta’s, Mandigo and his team of professionals will be more than happy to cut and season your meat according to your deepest desires.

Greta’s makes a variety of original recipe charcuterie, sausage and jerky. On a recent visit, they had four types of smoked sausage, including John’s andouille, whiskey-fennel, Polish and traditional sausage, as well as a variety of fresh pork and chicken sausages, including Asiago-spinach, sun-dried tomato basil, green onion-feta and of course, bratwurst. The jerkies were firm and moist and flavored with a range of spices, including fajita and teriyaki.

In addition to meat, Greta’s offers fresh, never-frozen seafood. Always on hand is fresh, wild-caught Atlantic salmon and tiger shrimp. Mandigo plans to offer fresh fish as well, rotating between popular choices such as tilapia, halibut, cod and others.

But if you’re not a home cook, Greta’s also offers prepared, take-away foods for both single diners, up to large groups. In their fresh case, Greta’s offers two or three prepared entrees everyday, like meatloaf and tomato-braised beef brisket with roasted red potatoes. The store also offers a variety of made-to-order sandwiches, including a brie grilled cheese, a house vegetarian black bean soup, and a rotating hot, prepared entrée for dinner.

“We want to make this your one-stop shop for lunch and dinner,” Mandigo said.

All foods are original recipes by Powell-Mandigo, who is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and former personal chef. In addition to their storefront, the Mandigos offer full catering services for groups from two to 500. They specialize in sit-down dinner parties, where they plan the menus, do all the shopping, prep and cooking, and serve the food in their clients’ homes.

“We can do a hot breakfast, lunch or dinner,” Mandigo said. “Everything is chef-created and customized for each of our customers.”

One of their most popular items, offered on both their catering menu and in-store for purchase, is the bacon-wrapped crab: lump crab meat cakes wrapped in bacon.

Greta’s is the only local store that sells gourmet Christopher Elbow chocolates. Originally from Lincoln, Christopher Elbow designs artisanal chocolates with flavors of rosemary, chile, lime, cognac, mango and more. Greta’s sells both boxes of his chocolates as well as his bars, including his No. 6 Dark Rocks chocolate bar, a bar combining popping candy with 61 percent dark chocolate, which was rated first of 10 chocolate bars by Food and Wine magazine in 2009. Greta’s will sell a special 21-piece chocolate assortment with a recordable, customizable message for Valentine’s Day.

Mandigo hopes that Greta’s can fill an untapped niche in Lincoln’s culinary market, catering to both home cooks and gourmets alike.

“We want to be able to provide a level of service that may not be available in Lincoln,” he said.

Greta’s is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. They are closed Monday.

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