Our Curated Cuisine at Home series aims to highlight local restaurants, cafes and chefs. Every week, we share a unique recipe using ingredients easily found in grocery stores while supporting and uplifting local businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Join us as we get to know and connect with our community!
Soleil is a casual neighborhood restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner right in the heart of Nubian Square. Cheryl Straughter, owner and chef, shares with us her grandson Michael’s favorite dish on the menu - baked mac n' cheese.
Fun fact: Cheryl named her restaurant after her granddaughter, Maya Soleil, and grew up shopping with her mother in a thriving Nubian Square (then called Dudley Square). Read our full Q&A with her below on how she plans to grow her business and what she envisions for the neighborhood!
Update: per Governor Baker's re-opening orders, take-out is only permitted until further notice.
Yields one large casserole
2.5c. Elbow Macaroni, Cooked & Strained
1 Stick Butter
2.5 T Flour
¼ t Italian Seasoning
¼ t Onion Powder
¼ t Pepper
¼ t Salt
1/8 t Nutmeg
1/8 t Ginger
Pinch of Garlic
3c Whole Milk
4c. Cheddar Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Melt butter over medium high heat. Add flour, and whisk until smooth.
- Add dry seasoning and herbs, heat and whisk for a minute. Add milk and continuously whisk as the mixture thickens
- Add the cheese, all but ½ c, whisk until melted and smooth
- Pour sauce over macaroni and mix
- Add to a buttered casserole dish, stir in the remaining ½ c cheese and top with your favorite breadcrumbs
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden brown on top
Get to know Cheryl, Owner & Chef of Soleil
Can you give us a little insight as to why you chose this recipe?
Mac & Cheese is a recipe enjoyed by children and adults. It is also so versatile. You can use whatever pasta you have in the cabinet at home. Once you make the basic roux, even the options for cheese is not etched in stone. You can use one type of cheese or combine a few. Also adding a protein or veggies to Mac & Cheese makes it a meal.
Where did the idea for Soleil come about?
My granddaughter’s name is Maya Soleil. I intentionally selected her middle name because of its meaning. In French, the Soleil means Sun. When I thought about naming my business, I thought about what Maya means to me. My granddaughter is bright, she shines in all that she does. Soleil is a tribute to her and what she means to me. Thinking about Soleil and its location, there is a broad range of opinions. Some people do not see Roxbury as a bright or shining community when they think of neighborhoods. My goal was and remains each day to dispel that image.
What made you choose Nubian Square as the neighborhood you wanted to open Soleil?
Years ago, I remember when this area had thriving businesses. I recall fondly being with my mother, shopping and boarding the elevated train that once operated all the way to downtown. For so many people, there are great memories of what once was. I believe it also can be [that today]. Soleil is a part of the future of Nubian Square.
So far, what has this pandemic taught you most about yourself and/or Soleil?
What it taught me about myself is that I remain resilient even in a global pandemic. It was difficult to watch my revenue decline and eventually close the restaurant. Like so many others in the food industry, Soleil depended on dine in, catering and event revenue from renting out our space. I am grateful to own a business, despite the fact we had to close due to those financial losses. The resilient person I am spent a lot of time restricting our business model.
As it relates to Soleil and this global pandemic, we are adding additional product lines to our restaurant concept. In addition to hot food, we will offer prepared family meals. Soleil will also carry complete meal kits. Let’s say it’s taco night, this package will come with all necessary ingredients to make that meal. We will carry various platters and packages for special events. Stay tuned, we have some incredibly cool customized packages that we will announce soon. The pandemic had us revisit our menu options.
How can our listeners and readers continue to support you?
Visit our website, we will be updating our menu soon. We will set up our dining area in accordance to any state and city regulation. Soleil will also be announcing a brand-new amazing product! Please call and order through pick up or delivery service. We are looking at a grand reopening no later than the week of May 25th. If we can get up and running sooner, we will absolutely post it on our website.