November/December 2022

Page 32

By Gail Ivers • Photos by Joel Butkowski, Butkowski Digital Imaging

SUCCESS NEEDS FRIENDS Business owners Erin Lucas and Mateo Mackbee agree, vision and hard work matter, but you can’t succeed without the help of others.

E

rin Lucas and Mateo Mackbee have a vision. They want to use their love of food to feed their passion for helping the hungry. They want to use their knowledge of food preparation to fight food depravation. Their vision literally starts from the ground up. They own a one-acre farm in rural Paynesville and they plan to use it to teach youth about food cycles, food preparation, entrepreneurism, and hope.

Erin’s Story

Lucas owns Flour & Flower, a bakery in St. Joseph, Minn. Mackbee owns Krewe, a New Orleans style restaurant, also located in St. Joe. They are partners in business and in life and they came together through

food, work, and their mutual desire to find work with a mission. Lucas grew up in Orono, Minn. “Food was always important in my life,” she said. “Eating was my favorite thing to do. Snacking ... cooking with my mom and grandparents ... so at a young age I knew I needed to be surrounded by food.” While in high school, Lucas and her volleyball team volunteered for the “363 Days Food Program” in Minneapolis, run by retired teacher Allen Law. “He talked about how the food banks are open two days a year, but what about the other 363 days of the year,” Lucas said. “So we made sandwiches for the homeless and got to go down and hand out the food. To see the kids and the middle-schoolers and understand that just because people in my community aren’t struggling doesn’t mean that people 20 minutes down the

road aren’t struggling ... that became important to me.” She realized that if she was going to run a restaurant, it needed to be one with a mission. By the time she graduated from high school she knew her goal was to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. In order to gain the requisite six months of culinary experience required by the CIA she enrolled in a technical program in West Virginia where she studied culinary arts and worked part-time at a restaurant. After a year in West Virginia, she moved to New York and in 2014 graduated from CIA with an Associate in Arts degree in culinary arts. “I always loved baking,” Lucas said, “but cooking came more naturally to me. In the back of my head I think I always knew I wanted to open up some type of bakery-style space or cafe, not