Communal restaurant promotes good food, good company

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Communal head chef, Matt Eckelmann, loves food. He was only five years old in Marine Park, Brooklyn when his parents first sat him on the counter to cook.

His first dish? Beef stew.

“Food has always been in my blood and I feel like it’s the gift that I’ve been given,” Eckelmann said.

Sunday suppers, family gatherings, birthdays, holidays — all growing up, every relative in Eckelmann’s Italian-Irish-German family were together cooking. Eckelmann said he believes cooking helps people connect and foster friendships.

“My first love, you know, at the age of five just learning there and family meals and it just took off from there,” Eckelmann said.

Eckelmann first started his professional career at the age of 17 in a resort’s snack shop. Years later, he became a cook at the dining hall, then the sous chef, then the executive chef.

“I want people to feel like, when they walk in, like they’re walking into my home,” Eckelmann said.

Eckelmann first started working at Communal after its head chef at the time inquired about him. He was cooking for private dinner parties at the time. Eventually, the previous chef offered Eckelmann the chance to run Communal. Now he and his staff work together to collaborate on meals to feature on the menu.

“The food here is an expression of what I love and where I’ve been and the things that I’ve done and where I want to go,” Eckelmann said.

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