Rick Bayless has made a career out of Mexican food. From owning restaurants, to TV appearances, shows of his own and award-winning books and cooking lessons that inspire and educate, his world revolves around Mexican culinary offerings. IHA catches up with Chef Bayless at the Show.
You were one of the first celebrity chefs to engage with media and you’ve stayed on top of that. How do you explain your longevity in this arena?
Chef: It’s all about having a sustained passion for what you do. It’s simple: I just love what I do. So I am constantly exploring new things, and most people who hang around me will often say – I just get so excited about new ideas, new ingredients, new innovations – being able to share new things with other people is the best thing ever, and media of course, helps to spread that word and those ideas further.
Since you first began, how have cooking demonstrations changed, taking into account the whole “celebrity chefs as rock stars” phenomenon?
Chef: It’s very, very interesting. A crowd in a cooking demonstration is used to being entertained – that hasn’t changed and that’s never been a problem for me because I am so enthusiastic and love talking about what I have learned. When I started out, there was no such thing as a celebrity chef. I was just doing what I loved, with no thought of being anything else. But I’ve always taught cooking classes, and I love it, so doing some TV and all of that was just natural for me. People gravitate toward the enthusiasm I have for food, and I love telling stories and sharing experiences with people. These days, you have to think more about the entertainment factor.
You and your staff visit Mexico regularly. What motivates you to make these trips?
Chef: I take our management team, normally around 26 of us. It’s a very busy four days, and we pack so much in. They love it! We find new techniques, new ingredients and new ideas for dishes. I talk about the food all the time, but I also need my staff to be able to talk about the food like I do. It takes some weight off me in that sense.
You are involved with Panna, the popular food & cooking app – please describe your experience.
Chef: I was the first chef to be involved with Panna. In this medium, an online video magazine, people can really learn from chefs in a way that they can’t learn from a recipe. It makes things so accessible. It’s just so easy now to capture moments wherever you go. It’s the way of the new world.