When Heatherlee Muehlius' new food truck hit the streets a month ago, she most likely became the best educated restaurateur on wheels in Milwaukee. Known as Hattie, Muehlius has a culinary degree from Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, and bachelor and master's degrees in education.
For most of the year she is an English as a second language specialist in the Milwaukee Public Schools, but this summer she has become the owner and operator of Hattie's Truck. From the bright yellow vehicle, a former FedEx truck, Muehlius is selling gourmet sliders and desserts as well as the standard chips and beverages.
"To most people, a slider means a greasy burger," the vivacious chef recently told me. "I'm doing five different sliders, and none of them are burgers."
Muehlius offers Italian beef dipped in au jus and topped with caramelized onions and provolone; pulled pork with sweet barbecue sauce and topped with slaw; pulled chicken with honey dijon mustard and onions; jerk chicken with mango slaw, and chicken fajita with peppers, onions and salsa. The sliders are $3.50 a piece or two for $6.
Home made desserts include red velvet and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes ($2.50), and cheesecake lollipops ($2) rolled in toffee, peanuts or coconut.
Muehlius worked as a line cook and pastry chef at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton, and she has done a lot of private catering. She calls Hattie's Truck her head start on a retirement job.
The truck is currently serving lunch six days a week. It is usually a part of the large food truck clusters, including Schlitz Park on Tuesdays, the courthouse on Thursdays and Red Arrow Park on Fridays. It also makes an appearance at the East Side Farmer's Market on Saturdays.
Check the website for the daily schedule.
We will be seeing less of Hattie's Truck when school starts, but Muehlius says she intends to roll it out on weekends.
Damien has been around so long, he was at Summerfest the night George Carlin was arrested for speaking the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. He was also at the Uptown Theatre the night Bruce Springsteen's first Milwaukee concert was interrupted for three hours by a bomb scare. Damien was reviewing the concert for the Milwaukee Journal. He wrote for the Journal and Journal Sentinel for 37 years, the last 29 as theater critic.
During those years, Damien served two terms on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, a term on the board of the association's foundation, and he studied the Latinization of American culture in a University of Southern California fellowship program. Damien also hosted his own arts radio program, "Milwaukee Presents with Damien Jaques," on WHAD for eight years.
Travel, books and, not surprisingly, theater top the list of Damien's interests. A news junkie, he is particularly plugged into politics and international affairs, but he also closely follows the Brewers, Packers and Marquette baskeball. Damien lives downtown, within easy walking distance of most of the theaters he attends.