1:09 p.m. — Mario’s Catering

Mario Aguirre (left) and the catering crew

Mario Aguirre (left) and the catering crew

Mario Aguirre and his crew from Mario’s Catering park their fleet of trucks on W. 16th St. and prepare to call it a day. They’ve been at it since long before most Chicagoans even woke up to get ready for work.

Arriving on location at S. Halsted about one a.m., they proceeded to prepare, cook and serve the set of “Chicago Fire” for the next several hours.

“Today, they had lamb,” says Aguirre, who not only cooks but also drives the 12-wheel stainless steel kitchen truck to the sets. “There was also Mediterranean chicken, couscous, swordfish, chicken.”

Aguirre learned how to cook “little by little” while working in restaurants throughout Los Angeles after immigrating to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico.

He joined Mario’s Catering in LA nearly twenty years ago, where he fed the likes of Clint Eastwood — “a nice, big star” who preferred “salmon in the morning” — before accepting the company’s offer to be jefe in Chicago.

Although he pretty much works outdoors all year round, including wintertime, Aguirre is happy with his decision to come to Chicago. “This is a great city,” he says.

During production, he and the crew transform the sidewalk on W. 16th St. — or wherever the shoot takes place — into a catering tent with an open-grill cooking area on one side and a cafeteria-style serving line on the other.

Afterwards, the movable feast is torn down, loaded into the trucks, and driven away. They’ll return in about twelve hours to prepare breakfast, which starts at 5:30 a.m.

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