Taste of Paris in Mundelein adds mobile food truck
BY KATLYN SMITH email@example.com September 2, 2013 6:48PM
Each month, Claude Bouteille prepares barbecue, Mexican -- whatever tests his training. | Michelle LaVigne/Sun-Times Media
Where: 161 N. Seymour Ave.
Info: (847) 949-9991 or ourtasteofparis.blogspot.com
Updated: October 4, 2013 6:19AM
Claude Bouteille is no stuffy French chef bound to a secretive kitchen.
The Mundelein transplant opened Taste of Paris four years ago in, of all places, an intimate space he shared with an Italian pizzeria and bistro sitting in a strip mall.
Once a month, he prepares barbecue, Mexican — whatever tests his traditional training.
He’s managed to overtake the pizza place with a full dinner menu. And now, he’s moving beyond the confines of the brick-and-mortar scene.
The native of a Paris suburb is rolling up to farmers markets in a converted blue ice cream truck he acquired earlier this summer.
The chef also is considering a move from Seymour Avenue to a bigger location, where he can expand the catering arm of his business.
He’s hoping for frontage on Hawley Street and a space large enough to accommodate wedding receptions.
Village officials have recommended several sites, Mayor Steve Lentz said.
“I think he really brings a dimension, an important dimension to our village that no one is providing right now,” Lentz said.
Bouteille, who bought the truck in June, hopes to bring the eatery-on-wheels to commuters at the Metra station, businesses and private parties.
Unlike Taste of Paris, dotted with pictures of the Eiffel Tower and patriotic flags, there are no signs of his homeland.
He’s simply calling it “Chef on Wheels,” tricked out with a warming oven and refrigerator.
“I can do whatever I want,” Bouteille, 56, said. “If its baking, cooking or pastry, I can adapt myself wherever I go. It’s not doing the same thing every day.”
The one constant is fresh ingredients. If he gets a good deal on vegetables or fruit from local farmers, he reflects that in the price for jams and homemade zucchini bread.
He arrives to the restaurant at 1 a.m. sharp to bake pastries from scratch. His smiley face cookies come with a cheeky wink.
He’s built a loyal fan base just for his croissants, an airy pillow that houses a rich filling. On weekends, they’re topped with eggs Benedict.
Bouteille still finds time to mingle.
When a group finished their breakfast recently, Bouteille joked, “Behave yourselves gentlemen.”
They asked about the calories.
“I don’t buy calories,” he quipped. “I look at my recipes, I see eggs, butter, love — no calories.”
Some breakfast customers linger till the late afternoon, the chef says.
“We joke with them, ‘Would you like to see the dinner menu?’” he said.
Then he got serious about his expectations for the restaurant.
“I want them to dine, not to eat,” Bouteille said. “They enjoy it. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”
He first started cooking when he was 3. He moved to the states in the late 1970’s and began catering in Chicago.
He’s had cafes in Glencoe and Lake Forest.
But Bouteille says he’s committed to staying in Mundelein, his home for the last 17 years.
“When you become part of the community by doing any volunteer work, school work or sport, people know you,” he said. “And you grow in that.”