Patrick Cassata, Executive Chef at The Bank Restaurant in Wheaton, Illinois has a mission. Simply stated, he wants to offer a family centered approach to organic, sustainable food and drink choices by making it a lifestyle.
How many of you have been to countries where restaurants or bistros in small villages serve wine, meats, produce, and dairy items produced from their own area to families – not only upscale consumers? It makes sense to Chef Patrick to use this European model at The Bank. Menu selections from small, family owned farms focus on fresh, organic and locally grown products whenever possible. Dairy products are from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Illinois farmers supply meat, poultry, bison, and prawns. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, and mustard are from producers in Indiana. Local, organic produce offerings are seasonal and Midwestern wineries have a prominent place on the wine list. Patrick feels that all of us should be engaged in sustainable practices in whatever we do whenever possible. Therefore, to make that achievable, prices at The Bank are kept to a reasonable level (fourteen lunch choices under $10.00 and eleven dinner selections under $15.00 are offered) so that customers in the community feel comfortable bringing their young families to enjoy healthy food in a lovely, friendly, neighborhood atmosphere.
Chef Patrick was a gracious host and we enjoyed chatting (the man loves to talk!) on the porch of this popular local restaurant with a glasses of crisp, light Seyval Blanc and a knock-your-socks-off absolutely delicious Cabernet Franc both from Illinois’ own August Hill Winery . Chicago born and raised, he has among other endeavors flipped burgers, had a stint as a bouncer, opened his own restaurant, participated as a finalist in the last season of Hell’s Kitchen, and has survived the ups and downs of 26 years in the restaurant/food business. But during our conversation his anecdotes relating to the influences of his family kept returning. As an example, Patrick’s grandfather, a bricklayer originally from Sicily, voluntarily ran a concession stand at their Chicago neighborhood ballpark. His philosophy was that each child needed to have a hot dog, soda, and candy for $1.00 because “it’s about the kid” when you go to the ballpark! Chef Patrick’s own philosophy towards environmental sustainability reflects the same child and family centered comment of his grandfather – it’s all about doing ”what’s right” and leaving this world a better place.
Watching Chef Patrick’s three little girls wielding backpacks, running up the stairs of the restaurant after school and hearing some reminders from Dad to finish their homework when they get home led me led me to realize that Patrick Cassata is not only an outstanding and popular chef but a strong family man, too. The most important elements in his life are his wife who happens to be his best friend, their daughters, and of course, his work as Executive Chef.
As we were chatting, I identified three attibutes in Patrick Cassata which were obvious: extreme honesty, modesty, and kindness. Of course I then asked him to describe himself. His adjectives included “somewhat manic”, “manically easy going”, “fun loving”, and “service oriented”…all qualities necessary to make a mark in his profession!
The Bank Restaurant was recently awarded the Illinois Products Logo for their commitment to support the small family farmers in the state and congratulations are in order. Patrick Cassata is one smart man you will want to know. He’s on a mission and that mission is succeeding.
The Bank Restaurant
121 West Front Street
Wheaton, IL 60187