Guest Judge

The renowned chef and guest judge Rick Bayless talks tacos.

Mar 25, 2008

guest_403_02_320x240.jpg Are you excited for the show to air? Are you a Top Chef fan?
I often don't watch myself on TV, even though I've had years and years of television, and I work on the editing of my own show, once I'm up there I usually don't like to see it.

What I like the most about the show is that it has really become a chef's show. It's very popular amongst the people I know the best and the people I hang out with the most because it's got real things you can imagine doing, and it has fabulous opportunities to see how people will react in certain situations in our profession. It's not just about talent in the kitchen, it's how you handle pressure and how quickly you can make decisions. In some ways this is the only show that shows people in the full light of what it means to be a chef. I know people who aren't really apart of the restaurant world might not be able to imagine how some of these situations make sense as ways of figuring out if someone's a good chef or not, but I think they are. There are times when you're called upon to do amazingly diverse things, so I think it's a really good show from that standpoint. You have to be able to be creative under pressure in all facets. Why is Chicago the perfect place for this season?

Chicago has one of the hottest dining scenes right now because we have a lot of innovation, but also a lot of solid, more traditional but contemporary food. More traditional than, say, what you'd find at Alinea and Moto -- those are very cutting edge and very experimental in their cuisine, but then we've got some super solid contenders in fine dining and just nice dining. I think we have a very strong Midwestern sensibility here that has to do with learning your craft very well and using good ingredients, and it's not as flashy as what you would find in L.A., or as over-the-top as what you would find in New York, but I think people come here as a culinary destination all the time and are just blown away that they can have one great meal after another.