At last night’s inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards at Hearst Tower, we ran into Rick Bayless and picked his brain about that circus show he’s doing at Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre. Will he be up on a lyra? “Of course,” he said. “I’m a very physical person. My big thing is yoga. I do tons of yoga, slightly acrobatic yoga, so that’s part of my everyday life now.”
In the spring show, Cascabel, Bayless plays a chef trying to win a woman’s heart through food. So we asked how to win over a lady friend in a meal.
“Well first of all you gotta know what’s going to crack her shell,” he said. “But one of the things I like to tell people is to always start off with something else. Don’t just make one dish.” He planned a three-course meal for us.
Appetizer: Ceviche, Fish, or Guac
“I’m not a person who likes to put out cheese and wine to start a meal because that just deadens everything. I would start with something super fresh, and in my world that’s usually ceviche or lime-marinated fish, or some guacamole. Give it a beautiful twist and put some crisp bacon on top.”
Main Course: Braised Short Ribs
“There’s nothing that makes a person melt more than something like braised short ribs, something that’s easy to achieve but we just don’t encounter every day. You gotta let it braise for a few hours, so do it on a Sunday afternoon when you have time.”
Dessert: Fresh Fruit
“A piece of really ripe farmers market fruit should be sort of a cornerstone of a great dessert as far as I’m concerned. For me, personally, chocolate’s overrated. You can get chocolate anywhere. But a really ripe fruit, well maybe drizzled with a little bit of chocolate, that’s the thing that is memorable.”
For fall, Bayless recommends a ripe pear topped with reduced white wine, sugar, and lemon zest. Boys, get crackin’.
The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.