For Steve Schwartz, Heather Behm and Vince DiBattista, the two Ts in restaurant stand for team.
Their trifecta of talents has made three restaurants successful in Evanston, and they’ve stayed on the pulse—if not one step ahead—of trends in the food world.
“We have three sets of knowledge—that’s power,” Heather says. “Having a partnership is an important part of our success.”
The three met in 1998 when Vince and Heather started working at Steve’s Italian restaurant, Campagnola, and went on to open Union Pizzeria, specializing in wood-fired pies and small plates, along with partner Craig Golden in 2008. Two years later, they introduced the food truck trend on the North Shore with Hummingbird Kitchen, the first full-service food truck in the area .
Heather is the front of the house, operations manager—a self-described “detail-oriented, list-making, organization freak.”
Vince, the chef, creates simple, rustic food. He strives to create menus that are “a little more daring,” he says—adding unusual items like octopus and a whole fish to the menu at Union Pizzeria, for example.
Steve is the numbers guy, as well as the visionary. The food truck was his idea, and he moved forward with it even before Evanston made it legal to cook and sell food on a truck late last year (meanwhile, food trucks in Chicago are stuck reheating prepared foods). “It was a gut feeling,” Steve says.
And this spring, Hummingbird will be humming, with its ever-changing menu of made-to-order salads and sandwiches, such as a short rib taco with radish and cabbage slaw. The reaction they’re aiming for is: “I can’t believe I ate that off of a truck.”
The team donates thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates and food to support schools, churches, clubs and organizations in Evanston. “It’s a moral obligation to give back, ”Heather says.
And as soon as the food truck is running smoothly, they’ll be onto their next project. As Heather puts it, “Fly, Hummingbird, fly!”
Catch that Hummingbird! To find out where the food truck is, visit hummingbirdkitchen.com