Friday, August 21, 2009

ATC Interview With Chef Rick Bayless

Chicago Chef Rick Bayless, renowned for his extensive knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine, owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and author of several best-selling cookbooks is the reigning Top Chef Master. In addition to all that, he's an all-around super-nice guy. He took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions from All Top Chef.

ATC: What did you think of the overall Top Chef Masters experience?
RB: Tough physically and mentally but really rewarding. I was challenged on every level.

ATC: Would you do it again?
RB: If I went into it not knowing anything, then yes. Going to do it again and knowing what I know?!...not so sure!!! Seriously though, I am thrilled for the opportunity to be able to win much needed dollars for my charity.

ATC: What was your favorite challenge?
I really did love the last challenge. It was a great experience creating all of these dishes from my past and present and I love having my sous chef there with me.

ATC: How about your least favorite?
RB: UGH…the dreaded outdoor party at the SLS.

ATC: And the most difficult?
RB: Same one. Switching gears from inside to outside full sun is brutal.

ATC: Who would you say was your biggest competition on the show?
RB: In the finals both Michael and Hubert. Not one more than the other. Michael plays to win, and Hubert is such a talented chef.

ATC: Who would you have liked to compete against (who didn't win the initial qualifying round)?
RB: That’s tough…there were some really good competitors. Might have been fun to have more Chicago chefs so maybe Graham.

ATC: Have you kept up with your fellow competitors?
RB: Yes! We exchange emails and tweets after the show.

ATC: Any plans to meet up in the future?
RB: My original group (Ludo, Wilo and Cindy), are all meeting in Puerto Rico in December. We are looking forward to it!

ATC: Has anyone challenged you to a grudge match?
RB: No way!

ATC: What is the biggest thing you took away from the competition?
RB: I really enjoyed meeting all of these wonderful chefs. I made lifelong friends. And I hope they feel the same way about me. I also loved that I got to show a different side of myself to people. It made me feel good to just be myself and go with the challenges.

ATC: What do you think sets you and your fellow competitors apart as Top Chef "Masters" compared to the chefs who participate in the regular Top Chef series?
RB: Maturity and success.

ATC: Do you think your particular background in a specific ethnic cuisine was your main strength in the competition?
RB:I don’t know…it is all I know, it is my truth and my strength. It just happened to work out for me in my life and on this show.

ATC: Of all the regional styles that make up your culinary specialty, which is your favorite to cook?
RB: I cook simply at home…a little bit of Mexican, a little bit of Italian. I don’t necessarily have a favorite.

ATC: Of course you don't always eat Mexican food. What is your favorite cuisine overall?
RB: I tend to gravitate towards food with immense flavor. Besides Mexican…I eat a lot of sushi, I love Thai food! I don’t rule anything out!

Thanks, Chef Bayless, and Congratulations! We at ATC wish you continued success and much happiness in the future.

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