Chicago Magazine, November 2006
CHICAGO'S BEST CHEFS: THE SKINNY ON THE PEOPLE IN OUR CITY'S TOP KITCHENS
THE LEGENDS: Chicago's Seven Bona Fide Kitchen Luminaries
Rick Bayless | Frontera Grill and Topolobampo
IN HIS WORDS:
age: 52 hometown: Oklahoma City how long it took him to finish high school: two and a half years and college: three years cooking schools: “I’ve taught in them a lot, but never attended one.” his parents’ restaurant“ When I was six, I would go into the walk-in coolers and take food, and go cook it.” what he wanted to become: a food writer first gourmet meal: “There was one fine-dining restaurant in town, so when I was 12, I saved my money, took the bus downtown, and got a table for one. I got planked steak served on a wooden board with duchess potatoes; then they brought an enormous bowl of chocolate mousse to the table.” his 50th birthday: a day-and-a-half celebration involving chefs, mariachis, gospel singers, and an entire lamb the next morning: “I come home from doing yoga and a table is set with mounds of Krispy Kremes and Dom Pérignon.” in his fridge: eggs, bacon, yogurt, oranges culinary idol: Julia Child: “I got a chance to cook with her [not long] before she died. Her way of handling food was very sensual.” philosophy: “A meal is a dialogue between a cook and the people who will be eating it.” goal: “I want to be a translator of traditional Mexican flavors that so speak to my heart for people in the United States.”
IN OUR WORDS:
Every summer for two weeks, Bayless closes his restaurants and flies his staff to a different region of Mexico to learn more about the country’s food from home cooks, market stalls, and restaurants. This year he took the gang to the Mayan stronghold of Chiapas and came back with terrific new southern Mexican recipes such as suckling pig slow-roasted in banana leaves, and roasted rib eye seasoned with achiote marinade in red pumpkinseed sauce with crisp beef tongue nuggets. You’d better believe this tireless chef’s latest discoveries will also find their way into his next cookbookand his PBS show.
D. R. W.
Copyright © 2006 Chicago Magazine