A Squared: An Evening with Chef Rick Bayless at The Offering by Negra Modelo

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An Evening with Chef Rick Bayless at The Offering by Negra Modelo

This weekend I had the pleasure of celebrating Dia de Muertos with Chef Rick Bayless, Negra Modelo, and several other Chicago food fanatics at Kendall College. If you aren't familiar with the holiday or need a refresher, Dia de Muertos translates to "Day of the Dead" and is regarded as one of the most important holidays in Mexican culture. It's a day for friends and family to gather and pay tribute to their loved ones that have passed on.

Handpainted sugar skulls for the event

One major part of the Dia de Muertos holiday is the creation of an alter decorated with flowers, sugar skulls, and favorite items of the deceased-- an offering. Hence, the name.

I remember "celebrating" this holiday in Spanish class in high school, but it obviously paled in comparison to our evening at Kendall College. Negra Modelo really pulled out all of the stops for this event!

Me, Chef Bayless, and Kelly Rizzo
photo c/o Neal Agustin

It began with a small "meet and tweet" event where a small group of us had the opportunity to sip Negra Modelos, mingle, and meet the guest of honor. Did I mention that I got to meet chef Rick Bayless?! It was so exciting and I was so starstruck and flustered (like a huge dork) when I got a chance to speak with him that I barely got any words out. Seriously, who am I?

photo c/o Neal Agustin

Chef Bayless is a big deal on the Chicago (and national) food scene, but he could not have been nicer. He was sweet and accommodating and shortly after our meeting he headed up on stage for a live cooking demonstration. It was so cool to see Chef Bayless in action and his demo was kind of genius: he showed us how to make guacamole-- the right way. Did you know you had been doing it wrong this entire time? I surely did not.

Guacamole seems like a pretty simple dish to make, but Chef Bayless had several tips for perfecting your guacamole recipe. He says to throw out your recipe cards and follow his advice. I thought it would fun to share a few of the new guacamole pro tricks that I learned with you here!

Guacamole 101 with Chef Rick Bayless:

  • White onions and yellow onions are not one in the same. White onions are traditionally used in Mexican cooking, but they can be too strong. Chef Bayless says to rinse cut white onions with water to cut that bitterness, while keeping that great intense flavor.
  • A molcajete is key for grinding guacamole ingredients, but buy yours at a Mexican grocery store for one of better quality and a fraction of the price of one you'll find at major retailers.
  • Especially in the winter when you can't get good quality local tomatoes, use roasted tomatillos (which have a tangy flavor) in salsas and guacamole.
  • To test an avocado for ripeness, press on the large end to see if it is soft and make sure that the stem is still intact (which ensures air tightness).
  • Adding lots of lime juice will keep guacamole's green color, but will overpower the avocado flavor. Chef Bayless recommends keeping it cold to keep it green.

And after all of that, we got to sample Chef Bayless's guacamole. It definitely lived up to the hype. This was some of the best guac that I've ever eaten... and I have eaten my fair share!

The evening continued with live mariachi music, artists painting sugar skulls (sidenote: how cool are those skulls up at the top of this post? I was SO excited to take a couple of them home with us that night!), and of course, more amazing food and drinks. The Negra Modelo was flowing and it was paired with some truly delicious Mexican dishes.

I'm not normally a big fan of tamales, but when celebrating Dia de Muertos with Chef Rick Bayless, you try the tamales. I liked these-- a lot! Sweet and soft, topped with cotija cheese, Mexican crema, and fresh salsa... they were authentic and delicious.

Fresh corn tortillas were being made by hand all night and they were the vehicles for two very different and delicious mole fillings: On the left is a vegetarian potato and mushroom mole and on the right is a pork and bean taco-- one of the best things I ate that night!

Chef Bayless even managed to work Negra Modelo into the evening's food menu too. Mini flourless chocolate cakes were baked with Negra Modelo and topped with a little bruleed marshmallow-- a perfect bite!

Kelly, Kat, & me. photo c/o Kat at A Girl & Her Food

I had a fabulous time hanging out with old and new Chicago food-loving friends. It's always fun to connect with other foodies in person and this event was the perfect place for it.

photo c/o Neal Agustin

Thanks so much to Negra Modelo for being gracious hosts and for throwing such a fabulous party-- what an awesome night!

Editor's Note: Compensation was provided by Crown Imports via Legacy Marketing Partners. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Crown Imports.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...