Welcome to Locally Grown! Locally Grown introduces you to the people and stories behind Local Lake County businesses. Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to Claude Bouteille, owner and chef of Taste of Paris in Mundelein.
How do you know when someone has a passion? When Claude Bouteille speaks of cooking his eyes light up, his face shines, and your mouth begins to water as he begins to describe his love of food.
Beginning at the age of three, in his mother’s kitchen in Paris, France, Claude fell in love with the art of food. He cooked his entire life and went on to apprentice as a chef, then cooked in Parisienne restaurants for five years. Following a challenge from his father, he moved to the United States and began working for a caterer in downtown Chicago. For decades, he cooked for some of the most esteemed celebrities in the world, including George Bush, Bill Clinton, and even Princess Diana. When he felt a pull between work and home, he opened up a restaurant first in Glencoe and then, at its current location, in Mundelein. Claude still has many dedicated patrons from downtown Chicago who have followed him to request that he recreate their favorite dishes.
When Claude describes food, he speaks of what is fresh and vibrant and flavorful. He talks of homemade jams, succulent ratatouille, and daily, fresh-made pastries, many using ingredients at the peak of their season. Nearly all of the dishes that emerge from his kitchen are created by Taste of Paris, and most of them by his hands. When I asked him what time he arrives at the restaurant he replied, “2:00 a.m., and it’s my favorite time of day. The world is peaceful, quiet, and cold–and it’s just me in my kitchen.”
Claude’s love of cooking is evident in every flake of pastry, every drop of icing, and in every happy customer that leaves the store. You can literally taste the care that he puts into every dish. It is a reflection of him and the love for his friends, family, and customers. He says, “No one is a number here. We call everyone by name. Everyone is important.”
That love can also be seen in his generosity towards the community and those in need. From donating food truck proceeds to a cancer fundraiser, to teaching free cooking classes to high schools in need, Claude cares about those around him. He believes in teaching new chefs how to cook, because no one will give an inexperienced chef hands-on training. “Someone has to give these kids a chance, so I do,” he states. Not only is he feeding his community and patrons, but he is also instilling his passion for food in the next generation of chefs.
The next time you are in Mundelein, stop in at Taste of Paris for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or try a sweet treat in between meals). After 5:00 p.m., pastries are marked down by 50 percent, so you might as well stock up for breakfast the next day. Everyone 12 and under receives a free cookie on every visit, much to my little cookie monster’s delight. Stay tuned for Jessica’s article later in the month to find out where you can sample Taste of Paris on the go!
Disclosure: Taste of Paris is our featured Locally Grown Business of the Month. This series of features is part of a paid partnership with Little Lake County. Contact littlelakecounty[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our monthly series.