Rick Bayless, chef of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco restaurants, takes a turn at entertaining his many fans in Cascabel, a love story set in a Mexican kitchen. The show sprinkles Bayless' signature dishes between Cirque-du-Soleil-style segments and a healthy dash of music and comedy. Bayless was responsible for the menu, but also shaped the story.
On the way into Cascabel, guests of the fictitious B&B are offered spoonfuls of dishes to whet the appetite for the meal. I always get one of Rick's fabulous margaritas when I'm at Frontera Grill and was pleased that they were included on the way into the show.
Rick Bayless plays the role of "cook" in the production and in food that's served during the meal. While making great food is no stretch for the chef, each dish is further enhanced by the scene in which it's presented. Chocolaty mole, for which Bayless is famed, is served when his character tries to woo the lovelorn widow who owns Cascabel. His yearning goes into the food, and the cast falls in love with a bite.
I think actual love is achieved more easily with a reservation to one of his restaurants, and chef is clearly more at ease working the line than he is acting. However, dinner-as-show, supported by an excellent cast of acrobatic talent, is an entertaining evening. Afterwards, as the celebration of love found spills into the crowd, guests have a chance to interact with the cast and take photos.
This culinary and theatrical combination runs for four weeks between March 23 - April 22, 2012 at the Lookingglass Theater (821 North Michigan Ave). Vegetarian options are available but should be noted when ordering tickets.