At the risk of sounding stupid and/or shocking the culinary world (Chicago's corner of it anyway), I'd never heard of Rick Bayless before this year's Spring Fling. I googled him and learned that he has won more awards than you can shake a stick at for his cooking, his restaurants (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, both in Chicago), and his cookbooks. Since I am not a big fan of cooking, especially Mexican cooking (Sorry, Rick), it's not surprising that I didn't know who Rick Bayless was.
I do now.
In fact, I was watching P. Allen Smith's garden show on PBS last night and lo and behold, there was Rick Bayless on a commercial for something or other. I tend to not pay a lot of attention when the commercials come on, but my ears perked up when I heard Rick Bayless mentioned. Why, he's big time! LOL.
Our Spring Fling group had the privilege of visiting his home garden. What a treat! He has two full-time gardeners tending to what consists of his entire back yard, which contains not a blade of grass, but is landscaped beautifully to accommodate an outdoor kitchen, a Koi pond, a pergola-covered seating area, and his kitchen garden.
Bill Shores and his wife Lori, the couple that takes care of the Bayless garden, conducted the tour for our group, and shared some facts about the garden:
- About $3000 worth of seeds are purchased and planted each year.
- $20,000 worth of produce is harvested from this small garden each growing season, which is used in Rick's restaurants.
- One compost bin produces about 40 wheelbarrows of compost each summer.
The Bayless back yard takes up two city lots, which isn't really a lot of space, but good use is made of every bit of it. For example, there are grave vines that have been trained up the side of a building, to trellises on the roof!
There are multiple levels to the garden and the layout of the rest of the space is devoted to being a place where Rick and his family can relax and enjoy themselves. With the outdoor kitchen, entertaining is a snap, too.
We were told that Rick was traveling in India while we were there, so unfortunately, we didn't get to meet him and thank him personally for allowing us to visit his gardens. Several of us thanked him via Twitter though.