Chicago: Dear Rick Bayless

Dear Rick Bayless,

I write to you today to tell you of my interest in being your disciple. Will you please take me in and teach me the ways of Mexican cooking?

I visited Xoco early in the morning for breakfast. I kept my stomach empty and woke up really early so that I could immerse myself in your culinary masterpieces. I got a cup of Aztec hot chocolate which is the best darn hot chocolate I ever had in my life. The whole bean-to-cup idea is genius. I can taste the freshness of the cocoa beans, the acidity of it, the all-spice and chilis that blend so smoothly with the fresh cocoa to bring it to another level. It made the one from Max Brenner taste like piss.

My Cuppa Aztec Hot Choc

And then there were your churros. How am I ever going to enjoy another generic churros at theme parks now? You have spoilt me with those buttery crispy sugary cinnamony yummy goodness. I could eat those things all day.


And your breakfast empanadas. I felt like I was transported back home to Singapore where I could eat a fresh curry puff for breakfast. It was like that, except it was filled with green scrambled eggs. It was soft, fluffy, herby, just perfect. The crust was perfect. Seemed like something heavy, but felt so light in the tummy.

And to prove to you how obsessed I am with you, I came back 3 hours later for lunch at the bar area of Frontera. I got the classic gold margarita, which again was the best darn margarita I ever had in my life. It was nothing short of perfect as I ate freshly fried tortilla chips with a large serving of the creamy yet chunky guacamole, drowning it in the red spicy salsa which I swear I would be more than happy to swim in.

Chips and Guacamole

Not knowing what I should eat for my first time, like choosing the right girl to lose my virginity to, I decided to allow your very friendly bartender to pick one for me. And a short while later, he appeared with this huge magnificent plate in front of me. He then went on to introduce the dish to me, explaining to me what exactly I was about to eat. Enchiladas de Pato al Pasillahomemade tortillas rolled around Gunthorp duck carnitas (with caramelized onions and sweet potato), doused with sweet-spicy pasilla chile sauce. Frisee-watercress salad.

Duck Enchiladas

And it was amazing. Every bite. The cheese. The spiciness. The duck. Everything was done perfect. And don’t get me started on the red rice. For you, I have decided to commit treason. It is the best rice I ever had in my life, better than Singapore’s famous Hainanese Chicken Rice. I could imagine myself eating this rice with ANYTHING. Lamb, chicken, steak, squid, ANYTHING. I swear right now, my name is being blacklisted by the Singapore government for having the audacity to say your rice is better than the Hainanese chicken rice. And will probably have to spend some time in prison when I pass customs in Singapore. But it’s worth it. As long as you understand how committed I am.

And I know I am not the only one who thought your food was amazing. The guy beside me was trying his best to scoop up as much of the remaining sauce as possible from this fish dish. He was probably waiting to lick the dish when no one is looking. The girl on my right kept giving me suggestive looks, waiting for me to hit on her. Probably because she got so damn drunk from drinking your delicious drinks, or maybe I too was so damn drunk after my second margarita that I thought she was checking me out.

I would have gotten dessert, and I bet it would have blown my brains out. But I was planning to get dessert at the signature lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. I mark that as one of the biggest regrets of my life because the damn crème brulee with shortbread I got up there was the worst crème brulee I ever had in my life. I could have made the damn thing myself and would have tasted at least two times better. And don’t get me started on the shortbread, which tasted stale and worse than those you buy at Walmart.

I left Frontera absolutely happy and just another margarita away from being wasted. As I staggered down the streets of Chicago just an hour past noon, I knew you are the one.

I long to bring your amazing food to Asia, and start a Mexican food empire there. I promise to give you a huge portion of my profits, and will do my best in making your name bloody big in Asia. So please take me as your disciple. I am willing to do anything. Wash the dishes. Clean the bathroom. Anything so that you can teach me how you do your magic with Mexican cuisine. I am totally serious. I hope to hear from you soon.

Derrick See

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