Heatherlee Muehlius peeks through the service window of Hattie's Truck.
Heatherlee Muehlius peeks through the service window of Hattie's Truck.

An educated food truck

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.

From left, Steve Koehler, Dan Klarer and Chad Luberger kick up their heels in the American Folklore Theatre production of "Victory Farm."
From left, Steve Koehler, Dan Klarer and Chad Luberger kick up their heels in the American Folklore Theatre production of "Victory Farm." (Photo: Len Villano)

Cherry picking with German POWs in Door County

FISH CREEK – The things about Wisconsin we didn't learn in school, the American Folklore Theatre tells us with music, humor and poignance.

For instance, the state hosted about 20,000 foreign prisoners of war during WWII, and most were German. Supervised POW projects ranged from Bayfield to Sturtevant, and some captured enemy combatants were even housed at State Fair Park.

The prisoners provided farm labor in a region whose workforce was depleted by the war effort. That is the context for "Victory Farm," this season's new American Folklore Theatre musical being staged outdoors in Peninsula State Park.

Three German POWs are assigned to a Door County cherry orchard in danger of having its crop spoil on the trees. The owner's husband has died in the war, and she initially resists accepting help from the enemy.

But the Germans, each quite different, are decent fellows with no malice in their hearts, and she grudgingly allows them to assist with the harvest. Homesickness and a love affair between a local and a prisoner predictably follows.

"Victory Farm" is totally reliant on its characters to engage us, with the POW's given the most texture and depth. The show's actor-singers must deliver, and AFT's cast rises to the task.

Dan Klarer charms and sparkles as a German baker brimming with optimism despite his prisoner status. Klarer exudes a gentle warmth that is irresistible.

Chad Luberger is equally effective as a sensitive teenage POW susceptible to puppy love. Veteran Milwaukee actor Steve Koehler draws the most complex character, a brooding older German soldier. We are initially wary of him, but Koehler's success at giving us a look inside the man leads to our understanding him.

Among the other actors, Allie Babich is the classic ingenue, singing like a lark and playing her role with seemingly effortless grace.

James Valcq's savvy score serves the story with its mix of poignant, romantic and rousing numbers, and it fits the AFT tradition of favoring blended h…