Monday, August 24, 2009

Foodie Freebie Friday: Top Chef Master, Rick Bayless

Welcome back to another Monday! I hope you had a great weekend and some culinary adventures of your own. This weekend was busy for me in the kitchen where I hosted three events for What's Cookin, Chicago:
Foodie Films: Pressure Cooker - This was an independent film based on a Philadelphia culinary arts high school teacher, Wilma Stephenson and how she has helped three specific inner city students get scholarships to culinary schools around the country. We found it to be a very inspirational film that delivered quite a few messages as it pertains to public school systems and culinary arts. I encourage you to check out the film if you can. Here's a link to the trailer and detailed info on the film.
Bread Baker's Apprentice Session - We got together to bake some bread from scratch! Aligned with the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenges I participate in, members of What's Cookin, Chicago came over to learn hands-on how to make Italian Bread, Kaiser Rolls and Lavash Crackers from scratch. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to read the posts on how they came out!

In the Kitchen: Cooking Building Blocks - Not everyone in my group, What's Cookin, Chicago are seasoned home cooks and many are really interested in learning how to cook more and how to cook just enough for one to two people households. I taught this cooking class with beginner home cooks in mind and we tackled some classic dishes that allowed them to add their own style. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post with recipes of what we made!

Now to start off this new week, I'm taking readers back through time to a special night here in Chicago. Last week on Wednesday, August 19, 2009, one of Chicago's very own was named Bravo's Top Chef Master - Rick Bayless! Here's a great summary of Rick Bayless's win, from

"The owner/chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo spiced up the first season finale of "Top Chef Masters" on Wednesday night, coming away with the title and $100,000 for the Frontera Farmer Foundation.

Bayless and finalists Hubert Keller and Michael Chiarello had to make a four-course meal that served as an autobiography of their food lives.

Bayless wowed the judges with his Ahi tuna smothered with Oaxacan black mole sauce.

"Mmmm," is what the judges had to say--all together--about the mole sauce, just before they called the chefs back to announce the winner.

"I don't believe this," said Bayless, who came out on top of the 24 chefs who competed this summer. "I am just totally elated ... Viva Mexico!"

Past "Top Chef" winners, including Chicago's Stephanie Izard, and "Top Chef" judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons helped judge the dishes.

Below are descriptions each of the four courses were supposed to be, and what Bayless created for each:

  • Create a menu of your first food memories: Bayless made barbecued quail smoked with hickory house sauce that his parents made, plus sour slaw and watermelon salad.
  • The experience that made you decide to become a chef: Here's where the mole sauce came in, smothering ahi tuna and served with plantain tamale and grilled nopales.
  • The opening of your first restaurant: His Achiote-Marinated Cochinita Pibil (suckling pig) with Sunchoke Puree and Crispy Pig's Feet scored with the judges.
  • Where you'll be heading in the future: The judges didn't enjoy Bayless' final course, a seafood dish called Arroz A La Tumbada with tomato-jalapeno broth and chorizo "air." " -- ChicagoNow

Having met Top Chef Master Rick Bayless in person and being on Chicago's WGN news together, it was great to see him win. He's an extremely knowledgeable chef who has such a passion about food, sustainability and respect for ethnic cultures, it wasn't hard for Chicago to name him a favorite contender on the Top Chef Masters competition. In honor of Chef Rick Bayless's win, this week's Foodie Freebie Friday highlights his best selling cookbook and a collection of his products from Frontera Grill, one of his restaurants here in Chicago.

A lucky winner will be receiving the following 'Mexican Everyday' gift set:

Ready to win this set? Read on to find out how...

Some guidelines:
- Giveaway is only for those who live in the United States - my apologies to my international readers!
- You must have a valid email address (within your comment or blog link) so that you can be contacted if you win.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment answering:

- What is your favorite Mexican (authentic or inspired) dish?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12 midnight CST.

ONE WINNER will be randomly chosen by Random. Org's Interger Generator based on the number of your comment and will be announced on Friday, August 28, 2009. Good luck!