Laura McGough with FLOCK: Gourmet Ambitions

By Sarah Koehler | Photos by Holly Leitner

When Lake Geneva resident Laura McGough was growing up, her father, a senior executive at Motorola, would often spend his leisure time cooking and trying to perfect the recipes from gourmet cooking magazines. From him, McGough inherited her passion for the gourmet.

“My father always challenged himself to make the food on the covers,” McGough says. “He was very talented. As I started to experiment more and more with cooking and sharing the food with friends, my love of the experience just continued to grow. At one point, I was finally ready to give up corporate life [in the insurance industry] and pursue my dreams.”

Though she had no formal restaurant experience and had never been to culinary school, McGough found that, much like her father, her relaxation and leisure time away from her corporate work was most gratifying when she was cooking and entertaining. For many years, friends and family had flocked to McGough’s home in Chicago for the food and atmosphere, so when she left her corporate job, she created a new career for herself as a personal chef and caterer. Remembering her frequent visits from friends and family, she named her new business FLOCK.

While many chefs might dream of venturing to famous food cities like New York or even Paris, McGough had no desire to chase the city lights. She and her family had been coming to Lake Geneva for decades, and she knew it would be a perfect location for her new business venture.

“We entertained large groups frequently,” she says. “All of our friends wanted me to open a restaurant and they offered to be investors; however, I enjoy a more quaint, high-quality experience.”

When the original caretaker’s home to the 1890 lakefront mansion Stone Manor came up for sale in Lake Geneva, McGough and her husband learned that it had a kitchen which was already zoned for commercial use, and they bought it the same day it went on the market. Two years later, the couple further expanded the commercial kitchen, and Laura’s dream became a reality.

“We chose Lake Geneva because it is still close to the city, but it allowed me to pursue my dreams in a gorgeous community,” she explains. “Every time I wake up, I still feel like I am on vacation.”

As the chef-owner of FLOCK, McGough works as a personal chef and caterer, planning, cooking and serving gourmet meals for groups of 25 or fewer guests, prepared in her own commercial kitchen and delivered to events around the area. McGough also offers personal chef services, where she works with the client to plan the menu, then completes the meal planning and shopping, coming to clients’ homes to serve an intimate, personalized dinner. Depending on the clients’ needs, she can also prepare meals that can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

As we enter the fall grilling season, we asked McGough to share a few recipes for delicious sides to serve with your favorite grilled meats.


Serves: 6 as an appetizer

  • 1 lb. tomatoes, diced
  • 1⁄2 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (seeded if you want to lighten the heat), diced
  • 1⁄2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix the diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and cilantro in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Serves: 12 as an appetizer

  • 12 Cremini mushrooms
  • Compound herb butter (cultured butter at room temperature combined with fresh herbs in a food processor)
  • Bleu cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt herb butter in a pan on medium heat.
  3. Brush the mushrooms off with a damp paper towel and remove the stems.
  4. Sauté the mushrooms in the herb butter until browned, turning once.
  5. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and arrange in an oven-safe baking dish.
  6. Stuff the mushrooms with high-quality bleu cheese and bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes at until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.


Serves: 6 as an appetizer

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 tbsps. olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1⁄2tsp. za’atar spice (more for garnish)
  1. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork so that they can release steam.
  2. Place eggplants over a medium- or low-heat grill and cook for 30- 60 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is completely charred on the outside and the vegetable collapses.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool until able to handle.
  4. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and add it to a food processor with the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and za’atar. Puree until smooth.
  5. Drizzle with high-quality, extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sumac and some za’atar.
  6. Serve with grilled pita bread.
Author: atthelake

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