Chicago is one of the Best Places to Eat!

When the James Beard Awards Gala was held in Chicago last month, visitors were met with banners at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and restaurants rolled out their red carpets to show everyone what I already knew. Chicago is one of the best places in the world to eat and not just because of my friend Rick Bayless and his wife Deann’s eating establishments.

Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post recently wrote a wonderful article on eating in Chicago as part of his search for America’s best food cities. I highly recommend reading it. Here is the link.

He interviews Rick and several other chefs and writes about the history of Chicago and its relationship to food.

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Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend
Sooke Harbour House, Marilyn’s Birthday Celebration


He says of Rick, “To keep his menus fresh, the restaurateur takes staffers on multiple trips to different parts of Mexico every year.” Culinary Adventures is proud to have been part of organizing these trips and the chefs’ trips that continue are held each September. This year’s trip is in Campeche September 20-27.

More Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday

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Rick Bayless and his wife, Deann Groen Bayless have released their ninth book, More Mexican Everyday for people who love to cook. They “offer recipes that are not dumbed down, that are smart recipes utilizing ingredients and cookware and techniques to be the most efficient.” They wrote the book to help cooks understand why a recipe is that way it is but then they hope that cooks will release their slavish ties to the recipe and to improvise more.

Rick believes that almost everyone who cooks dinner is doing a Quickfire challenge, like he did as Top Chef Master. You don’t have much time, and it has to be cooked and you want it to be delicious. To be successful, Rick says, the keys are understanding flavor, texture and how to balance them.

Don’t miss out as a chef to join Rick and Ricardo Munoz on the chefs’ trip to Campeche in September. We still have openings. To see more delicious bites from Rick, check out the Eater video on eating a meal at Topolabampo, Rick’s fine dining restaurant in Chicago. You can see it and the article here.

On Stage with Rick Bayless

There are only two weeks left to watch Rick Bayless in Cascabel, a theatrical collaboration with the Lookingglass Theater Company, at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Chris Jones critic for the Chicago Tribune says that you feel like you are watching a culinary artist explore his roots. The first run of this show in 2012 was a smashing hit and this return engagement delivers yet another culinary and visual feast. Billed as Cascabel:  Dinner–Daring–Desire, watch Rick win the heart of all those who live in the boardinghouse, as their sensual awakening are, in this show, circus acts.

A gourmet Mexican feast, wine, beer, circus, flamenco, comedy, live music and a love story.

Great food, friends and fond memories–Frontera Grill and Rick Bayless

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Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend
Sooke Harbour House, Marilyn’s 80th Birthday Celebration
Photo by Bill Blair

One morning, over twenty years ago, when in Chicago, I wanted to meet Rick Bayless, as his first cookbook Authentic Mexican written with his wife, Deann, had only recently been published. We had previously talked on the phone and he expressed an interest in the regional culinary trips that I was leading in Mexico, so off I went to his first flagship restaurant.

The front door of Frontera Grill was locked, no one was inside that I could see, so my intrepid husband, Fredric said for us to try the back door. We did, banged on it, and when it opened, there was a startled Rick. He served us up some tasty soup and soft tacos and we proceeded to have a long, interesting discussion. That was the first of many times over the years that I have eaten at Frontera. I only wish I could be there to celebrate the 26th anniversary of its opening. Congratulations to Rick, Deann and their wonderful staff for their efforts to present such truly representative dishes from the region we both know and love.

Over the following years, we have spent many important occasions together, Christmases in Oaxaca, birthdays, and their daughter, Lanie’s quinceañera. Thank you for being our friends. You have all enriched my life by your friendship.

Abrazos.

Photographer Jane Fulton Alt

Jane Fulton Alt

Danzon Dancers
© 2012 Jane Fulton Alt. All Rights Reserved

One of my favorite photographers, Jane Fulton Alt will be showing in her home town of Chicago at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center from September 13-November 6th. Her photography, of which I own quite a few prints of scenes in the various regions of Mexico where she has traveled with us on Rick Bayless’s annual staff trip, is exquisite and if you live in the neighborhood, I highly recommend that you visit the Center. The opening reception is Sunday, September 23 from 3-5 p.m and her show is entitled, The Burn.

You can follow her blog here.