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'Cielos' is one hot tamale of a business

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Food truck offers fresh made Mexican food in Bangor

BANGOR - Mainers are turning into foodies. Just this summer alone, an episode of Food Paradise was filmed at Dysart's, Rockland chef Michelle Ragussis appeared on the Food Network Star and not one but two food trucks are now roaming the streets of the Queen city: The Street Bistro truck and the Cielos truck, which serves up fresh-made Mexican food that customers are just devouring.

"I think it's pretty cool," said Kate Crabtree of Bangor. "I heard about it on Facebook. A friend said it reminded them of California Mexican food."

The Cielos food truck is the brainchild of Kirsten Pilot of Germany. She moved to Maine about a year ago and was looking for a part time job to keep her busy.

"I always got fresh, affordable food from food trucks in New York City and that's when the idea was born. I wanted to work, I always wanted to be self-employed and I have a great passion for Mexican food," explained Pilot. "Plus, everyone is still alive when I cook, which is good."

Pilot and her husband, Chris, pride themselves on using the freshest ingredients. They marinate their chicken and Angus beef fillings overnight. Then they cut up their onions, tomatoes and peppers and prepare fresh guacamole in the morning before loading up their truck and heading out.

"I don't want to mess around with cheap stuff. We try to go with the best," said Kirsten. "And we don't use microwaves and freezers. Everything is freshly cooked."

And customers can taste the difference.

"I'm a big Mexican fan," said Bud Neale of Bangor. "I grew up in California and we had Mexican all the time. I thought I'd give them [Cielos] a try today and I'm hoping they're more on the authentic and fresh side as opposed to the over-Americanized fast food version."

Chris and Kirsten are currently using three different locations in Bangor during the week to serve lunch: the Kmart and Sam's Club parking lots on Hogan Road and Bacon Printing on Hammond Street.

"We thought if we put ourselves in one physical spot, people would come to us, but it doesn't matter if we're at Kmart or Bacon Printing, we have a steady stream of customers," said Chris Pilot.

And the more people are becoming customers each week.

"My wife was thinking there'd be one customer and then five minutes would go by, then another customer and another five minutes, but there's obviously a line of people we're serving from the truck," said Chris. "It's been a little surprising to us."

The Pilots began outfitting their mobile restaurant, which they purchased in Arizona, back in February. They've had to pass a health inspection, fire department inspection and even a department of transportation test before opening for business.

"It's very expensive and labor intensive," said Kirsten. "I talked to a lot of people who are dreaming of a food truck, and I say keep trying because having a restaurant in such a small environment is tough."

But it's a dream that's worth it, especially when you're selling out just about every day that you're open.

To find out where the Cielos food truck will be parked next, log onto www.cielostruck.com.

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