There is a lot for the Tasty Catering family to be excited about this year, including the celebration of our 30th anniversary and the recent promotion of Kornel Grygo, our new CEO. Kornel first joined our team in April 2007 and has hit the ground running ever since.
Kornel started out as a brand ambassador and quickly became a top performer for high-profile deliveries and running large events. Not even three years later, he was promoted to director of logistics, overseeing 15 of our full-time drivers and over 150 part-time seasonal employees. In this role, he demonstrated a strong dedication to his team and an unwavering commitment to the quality and service that Tasty Catering is known for.
Then, in 2016, Kornel was promoted again to chief revenue officer. He was instrumental in the increased revenue of corporate drop-offs, full-service corporate events, picnics, weddings and other formal events. With his recent appointment to CEO in January, he continues to prove why he has what it takes to continue to carry out the Walter brothers’ leadership legacy.
Though this professional chronology is important, there is so much more to Kornel. In this Q&A, we hope to share a more personal side to our new leader.
Why have you stayed at Tasty Catering this long?
The people and the culture. Since my first day, I’ve really bonded with my fellow co-workers. These relationships go beyond work—I’ve made friends for life. Tasty’s family atmosphere is second to none. We all care about each other through the good and the bad, and it makes coming to work very enjoyable.
What made me fall in love with Tasty is that the culture is not just words on the wall. Everyone lives and breathes it. We make all decisions based on if they fall in line with our culture, and this makes the decision-making process that much easier. We have an award-winning culture.
Did you have a dream of being a CEO or business owner?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a CEO of a company. As a young kid, my father had a construction company, and I always thought that once I finished my schooling at UIC, I would help him run the business. But when the economy crashed around 2008, his company closed. That’s when I decided to pursue growth opportunities at Tasty.
I still pinch myself that I am in this position. I feel extremely blessed to be surrounded by other great leaders in our organization who help me steer the ship in the right way. Even though I am the leader of this company, we make decisions as an organization, with input from everybody. I believe that is why we have been so successful in the past, and my responsibility is to continue to ensure that the culture operates this way well into the future.
What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?
My professional passion is being responsible not just for all the people who work for Tasty Catering but also for all their families. Knowing that each and every one of them depends on Tasty Catering for their livelihood and well-being is a huge responsibility, and one that I take very seriously. Leadership is not a privilege; it is a great responsibility.
Personally, I am passionate about my friends and family. I like helping people. And I love Chicago sports, especially the Bears. I love to laugh and have a good time.
Who is someone you admire and why?
My mother. When I was born in Poland, my father moved to the U.S. to pursue a better life for our family, and my mom raised my sister and me on her own for 10 years in Poland.
I think back about what my mom had to do to raise my sister and me by herself and what she was able to accomplish by herself, never complaining and always making sacrifices for the benefit of my sister and me. When I feel swamped, I look back at those times and find inspiration to stay positive and keep going.
Shoutout to all the moms who are raising families while working. You all are an inspiration to me. Trust me, your kids will appreciate everything you do for them!
I admire my father, who would always take me to work with him at his construction company every single chance he had. He was the first person to teach me that just because you are the owner or leader, you still must work as hard if not harder than anyone else, because respect is not given in this world, it is earned.
Other mentors include my best friend of 20 years, Michael Skulski, and the Walters, Tom, Kevin, Larry and Tim. They gave me an opportunity to grow within the organization, pushed me, challenged me and believed in me. Tom Walter has been instrumental in my growth and in pushing me past my limits. And also my fellow members of the Small Giants cohort.
What advice would you give a candidate who wants to join our team of superstars?
Work hard, be authentic and have a drive and determination to succeed. And don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes, in my opinion, are one of the best learning experiences.
Develop your sphere of influence. Surround yourself with mentors and people who want to see you succeed, not just agree with you. Those are the people who will challenge, influence, mentor and help you learn.
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
My goal for this year would be to go fishing more. I want to practice mindfulness and meditation more. I have been reading a lot about it and practice meditation very irregularly. I have heard from some colleagues how it has helped them in their professional and personal lives. If I can become a more mindful leader, it would benefit everyone in our organization.
My mother keeps bugging me that she wants grandkids, so finding someone to start a family with would make my mother happy and me as well.
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