Q & A: Nick Vorpagel of Lake Geneva Country Meats

nick vorpagel

Lake Geneva Country Meats, a family-owned and operated business has been a mainstay in the Geneva Lakes area for over 50 years. Once known as Lake Geneva Packing Company, the business initially focused on custom meat processing only. Today, after several building and business expansions, Lake Geneva Country Meats is a one stop fresh food market that features everything from their award-winning Leahy’s Sausage and the finest cuts of meat to fresh vegetables, bread, sauces, cheese, beer, wine and more.

To celebrate this issue’s Taste of Fall section, we asked Nick Vorpagel, the grandson of the founders of this longstanding business, to give us his thoughts on what has been the key to Lake Geneva Country Meat’s success.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT LAKE GENEVA COUNTRY MEATS.

I do a little bit of a lot of things! I head up our sales and marketing efforts, which encompasses everything from planning what will be on sale in our fresh meat case to writing emails and posting on Facebook. We have a lot of talented people with expertise that help me execute those parts of the job. The best part of my job is managing the beverage section — that I keep for myself!

I UNDERSTAND THE BUSINESS CELEBRATED ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY LAST YEAR. TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS?

We did! When my grandpa and grandma, John and Rita Leahy started the business in 1965, they focused on quality. We make sure everything in our store is a high-quality product. Our customers know when they’re here they won’t be disappointed in the product, and if for some reason they are, we’ll take care of it. Which brings me to the second reason for our longevity — great service. Everyone here at LGCM wants to make sure customers are happy and works hard to give exceptional service. We’re very proud of that.

LAKE GENEVA COUNTRY MEATS HAS EARNED SOME IMPRESSIVE AWARDS, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A FEW OF THOSE?

Thank you! We have a talented Head Sausage Maker, Jeff Schmalfeldt, who along with his team, has made products that have won some big awards. We’ve won Best of Show Awards at the Wisconsin Cured Meat Championships, the Wisconsin State Fair and the American Cured Meat Championships. Most recently, we won 11 medals and the Cup of Honor from the German Butcher’s Association in the International Quality Competition for Sausage Products. It’s a HUGE honor to receive an award from the German Butcher’s Association, so we’re very excited!

IN ADDITION TO OFFERING DIFFERENT CUTS OF BEEF AND PORK, LGCM HAS EXPANDED TO OFFER SEAFOOD, PLUS YOU HOST WINE TASTINGS, YOUR WEBSITE OFFERS RECIPES — WHAT’S NEXT?

Good question! There are a few things we are working on to expand

product offerings and provide new services, but those are top, top secret. I can share two things — first, we’re offering more seasonal, local produce by teaming up with Geneva Lakes Produce Farm. They have great products and they’re wonderful people. Second, we’ll be relaunching our website soon with even more focus on helping people learn new ways to cook healthy, high quality meals at any price point. We view a helpful website as an extension of offering great customer service!

EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CHARITY CHECK FOR LAKE GENEVA RESTAURANT WEEK AND HOW LGCM BECAME INVOLVED WITH ITS SPONSORSHIP.

The Charity Check for LGRW is an amazing program where diners can vote for one local charity to receive a $5,000 donation. The charity with the most votes at the end of Restaurant Week wins the donation. We saw the opportunity last year and jumped on it because we could not see a more impactful way to help support the community that supports us. I am so proud and grateful we can do this program. I highly recommend going to our YouTube page and watching the videos highlighting this year’s nominees. Voting is over for this year, but you can still learn about the great things being done by local charities.

SO, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE CUT OF MEAT AND HOW DO YOU PREPARE IT?

This changes constantly, but right now I’m obsessed with chimichurri seasoning (just ask my wife!) So I love to take a tri tip steak, rub it with chimichurri and then smoke it on our Big Green Egg. Slice that steak into strips and you can serve it on salad, as an entrée, or in an empanada. It’s a lean cut of beef, but super flavorful. Pair it with some Argentinian Malbec and you have an evening! We have a recipe on our website for it — just search for “Chimichurri Smoked Tri Tip” at lgmeats.com.

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