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.

Exploring Chiapas with Chef Andres Padilla

Chef Rick and Deann Bayless, along with Topolobampo Culinary Director Chef Andres Padilla, spent time while in Chiapas going to Ocosingo, Chamula and of course, the mercados. Here, Chef Andres describes the experience of what they saw. You can also see more pictures of Chiapas on his Tumbler page.

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Chef Andres Padilla, Topolobampo

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Chiapas Explorer’s Trip

Here is a visual summary of the February explorer’s trip to Chiapas. The videos were made by Kathy Martinides.

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.

A Culinary Adventure in Chiapas, Mexico with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz

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A lesson in making tamales in San Cristobal, Chiapas
Photo by Igancio Urquiza

8/25 Trip is full and a waiting list has been started.

Chiapas and Tabasco here we come! We finally decided on these two very southern states for our February culinary adventure with most of the time being spent in Chiapas, a state with a very interesting cuisine, including an incredible variety of different types of tamales—at least fifty that I have tasted, seen, or heard about. We still are not sure if we will start the trip in Villahermosa, Tabasco or Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. I did, however, wanted to give you a heads up on what will be included no matter where we may start the trip.

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We will be exploring many of the different regions of Chiapas, from the rugged mountains and cloud forest surrounding the 6,900 feet high colonial city of San Cristóbal, to the lowland rain forests where we will spend a night in cabins in the region where many of the Lancandóns live, just one of the many groups of indigenous people in Chiapas.

Most tourists come to this state to visit the spectacular archeological sites, especially Palenque, however my favorite is the isolated Yaxchilan which we can only get to by boat on the Rió Usamacinta that forms the border with Guatemala.

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Yaxchilan

 

 We will explore these as well as Bonampak with its vivid Mayan murals inside one of the temples.

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Murals in Bonampak Archeological site, Chiapas

The first time my husband, Fredric and I were here years ago, we had to hike and climb several really rough miles on a muddy, virtually impossible trail, but now there is a paved road all the way.

 

We hope to have our classes at Casa Ná-Bolom, the former home of Frans Blom an explorer and archeologist, and his wife Trudi Blom, a photographer and anthropologist who explored this region. Trudi is famous for her work on Lacandón culture and her photographs are on display at the house museum which we will visit.

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Church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

 

We also will be visiting several of the nearby villages including San Juan Chamula and its very unusual church with pine needles scattered on the floor, and sometimes chickens are in attendance. Close by is the village of Zincantán, where we are hoping to schedule another traditional meal like we have had in the past with a local family who also are known for their weaving.

 

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Family in Zincantan, Chiapas

 

 

 

 

On our way to Palenque and Tabasco, we will stop at a very special small cheese producer of the local cheeses, including Rick Bayless’s favorite “doble crema,” and visit the dazzling waterfalls Agua Azul as the water tumbles down the numerous small cliffs.

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Olmec head in Villahermosa, Tabasco

In Tabasco, we will spend time in the fascinating La Venta where gigantic 6-foot tall carved stone Olmec heads weighing at least 20 tons are interspersed throughout a jungle-like setting.

Both Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Ricardo Muñoz will be with us to give classes and share their culinary knowledge and one day, Ricardo’s aunt, an excellent home cook, will give a demonstration of some of the regional foods of her area.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Later this summer, we will have the exact dates, but I expect it to be on or around the week of February 14-22. At that time, we will let you know the total cost. Do let me know if you are interested in joining us on this trip. It will truly be a culinary adventure.

 

Rick Bayless’s Extensive Library

www.culinaryadventuresinc.com; http://eater.com/archives/2014/03/28/rick-bayless-cookbook-shelf.php

Photo by Paula Forbes

Paula Forbes recently wrote this great article on Rick Bayless and his extensive library and how it is utilized, and how Rick creates an environment for ongoing education for himself and for his staff as they research foods for their menus. It is one of a series in The Cookbook Shelf, in which Eater talks to food professionals about their book collections.

I thought I had many, many Mexican cookbooks but obviously not as many as Rick. My books are erupting all over the window ledges and even the floors so I have donated many to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at San Antonio, Texas where they are teaching students from all over Mexico and Central America. It is a very special place with a very dedicated purpose.

And by the way, I am the one now editing Ricardo Munoz’s book that Rick mentioned. A mutual friend of ours, Carmen Barnard Baca, my former coordinator in Mexico, was one of the three translators, along with her brother, Roberto Barnard Baca and Cristina Potters, and now I am editing it and working with the University of Texas Press so that it will soon be available.