The Culinary Scene at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show was abuzz Saturday as Rick Bayless, the legendary chef of Chicago’s Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, demonstrated the secret to his signature tamales, flank steak, and chipotle salsa.
Fans learned that he prepares his tamales from fresh corn for a softer texture, and then wraps them in banana leaves as opposed to corn husks for a more fragrant and unique sensory appeal. The signature dish is one of the only items on Frontera’s monthly changing menu that is always availableâ€”a favorite he looks forward to every Saturday with his wife.
In addition to sharing tamale tips to a fascinated crowd, Bayless spoke of how he learned the art of Mexican cooking by traveling through all the states in Mexico and studying it firsthand from the diverse styles of grandmothers and mothers who acquired their recipes and skills from traditions handed down through the generations.
Notes Bayless, the interesting part of today’s global cuisine is the influence that American menus are having on that of other cultures. For example, the use of fruit to create a sweeter salsa is now called â€˜American salsaâ€™ in Mexico. Bolder sharper flavors are more typical of the region’s preferences.
Check back for more behind-the-scenes stories with chefs, live from the NRA Show!