Rick Bayless in O-Town

I came, I saw, I ate achiote seared shrimp with quick habenero pickled onions.

Today, Jeremiah and I had the pleasure and privilege to attend a cooking demonstration by Rick Bayless.  If you haven’t already read my last blog, or if you aren’t a fan of Top Chef (I’m not, but I understand he’s been featured on there), then I’ll give you a little background.  Bayless owns three restaurants in Chicago, all serving beautiful and lovingly crafted Mexican food.  As a young man, Bayless, who comes from a restaurant family, thought that he would leave the family business behind, favoring instead the study of Mexican culture and linguistics.  Then, one day, he woke up with the epiphany that the study of the culture was intertwined neatly with the thing he loved the most, the passion that was so much a part of him:  food.  At that point, his attention turned toward bringing the authentic tastes of Mexico to the United States.

And so, with humor and a wonderfully laid-back attitude that met each challenge with a smile and a witty comment, Chef Bayless discussed his latest book, Fiesta at Rick’s, demonstrated some wonderful recipes, and took questions from the audience.

To begin, Bayless provided some background on the book, answering the questions, Why this?  Why now?  Not surprisingly, Bayless says that people often ask for tips and recipes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, or for their family “Mexican Fiesta.”  He also shared candidly that, more often than not, folks who say they own his books and love his books confess that their favorite recipes are – you guessed it – guacamole and margaritas.  All of this feedback made him think that there must be a legitimate desire for some good “Mexican food how-to,” a book that celebrates what he calls the fiesta spirit.  Now wait; don’t get out the sombrero and maracas just yet.  He’s not talking about, in his words, pulling out the blender to have a margarita party.  Well, at least that’s not all he’s talking about.  Rather, his fiesta spirit speaks more to the joy that comes from getting together with family and friends to hang out, to relax, to breathe.  To forget the worries and just enjoy life for a while.  That fiesta spirit inspired this book, as Chef Bayless takes us into his home, with beautiful pictures, and allows us to be a part of the camaraderie.

But back to the demo.

When we arrived, there were glass urns of a beautiful dark pink beverage set up at the back of the demo area. 

We were happy to be early, because from the looks of it, they were expecting Continue reading “Rick Bayless in O-Town”