An Interview with Chef Rick Bayless

October 18, 2011

Chef Rick Bayless is one of the foremost authorities on Mexican food.  He fell in love with the flavors of Mexico when he moved there in the 1980's with his wife, Deann.  Chef Bayless is the owner of several restaurants throughout the country including Frontera Grill and XOCO in Chicago and  Red O in Los Angeles.  He has also written six cookbooks focused on Mexican cuisine and is the star of the Public Television series, Mexico- One Plate at a Time.  To add to his already long list of successes, Chef Bayless won the first season of Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I am from a restaurant family.  I grew up making BBQ in Oklahoma.  I went away to college because I wanted to get away from that business.  The only problem was that in college, all I could think about was food.  It was in my blood.  

What were your favorite dishes growing up?

I loved our food at Hickory House where we grew up.  Deviled eggs, stuffed pickles. Ribs.

What is your cooking philosophy?

Do the homework on a dish but make it your own.  Use great ingredients.  Have fun with it.

What are three Latin ingredients you use all the time?

I use chipotle chiles a lot.  Mexican oregano, and Mexican cinnamon.

Who would you consider to be your chef mentor and why?

I grew up watching Julia Child.  I loved how her sense of humor carried her through almost anything!

What is your advice for new chefs?

Travel.

What was the last cookbook you read?

I just read  Tasting New Mexico by my friends Cheryl and Bill Jamison

What are three kitchen tools you can't live without?

My knife, molcajete & lime squeezer. 

If you could sit down at the dinner table with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

Probably my grandmother and maybe even Julia.  They were women who knew that good food on a table could solve just about anything.  They also knew that you can bring a lot more than food to a table. 

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I am working on 2 books, another season of television and next year I am starring in Cascabel at Lookingglass theatre!

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