Oak Forest Native Tried 1st Strudel—Now Sells it at Chicago's Christkindlmarket

Richard Schmidt had never tasted strudel before this one blew his mind. Then he lost his job, answered an ad and it turned out to be to sell that same great strudel.

Photo/Richard Schmidt
Photo/Richard Schmidt
Oak Forest native Richard Schmidt had never tasted strudel before trying Helmut's at Chicago's Christkindlmarket.

The largest outdoor German market in the country has featured Helmut's Strudel German Grill for 15 years now, and Schmidt joined the team five years ago.  

"It's light and airy texture jam-packed with multiple toppings—just blew my mind," Schmidt said in an email. "Something so simple looks and tastes most amazing!"

Before joining Helmut's, the Tinley Park man was a director of food and beverage for race tracks and private country clubs. He lost his job in 2009 and answered an advertisement for a job that began in November that year. 

"Turned out to be Christkindlmarket for Helmut's Strudel," he said. "In two years my partner and I took the franchise over for Illinois."

Helmut's has been around since 1968, Schmidt said, and it was based in New York. The franchise is now in nine states, but the Illinois market's only event is Christkindlmarket. Schmidt said that will change next year, as Helmut's will be at the Taste of Chicago and another six to eight festivals in the state. 

"I enjoy the relationship with the customer," he said. "It's an established product that can be trusted."

Besides the strudel, Helmut's offers other goods including spinach & broccoli puffs packed with three cheeses, as well as Bavarian pretzels and the Nutella Puff & Puff Dog.

But the strudel, Schmidt says, is "the core and reason we do what we do." There are four flavors: apple, cherry, cheese and almond-apricot. It's baked fresh every day, and there's fresh strudel coming from the oven every half hour. It's served hot and with a splash of powdered sugar.

To learn more about Helmut's Strudel, follow the business on its Facebook and Twitter pages. 

The Christkindlmarket is now open and filling Daley Plaza with German gifts, food, and culture. It will be open daily through Dec. 24. 

Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 am-8 pm Friday and Saturday: 1 am-9 pm

More visitor information.


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