Monday, June 8, 2009

Who Is Rick Bayless Anyway?

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.

Bill and Lori Shores, just beyond the Koi pond

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.

Kousa dogwood bloom, with second-story greenhouse visible in the background.


Pam/Digging said...

Nice post, Kylee. I can't figure out how you got pics without tons of people in them in this garden. BTW, I didn't know who Rick Bayless was either--and I love Mexican food!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Good Morning Kylee, I read the name in someone's blog and kept thinking, 'I know that name'. My husband likes his show, I tend to listen more closely to the PBS gardening shows (gosh wonder why?) His garden is truly an oasis in the city. Nice pictures.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

You are not the only one, I wouldn't have known this chap from a bar of soap either and I love both cooking nd mexican food. ;-) Love that kitchen garden.

OK, I've caught up with you, so now only 9,988 blogs to go. ;-)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kylee, I thought much the same about RB before the tour. I didn't know who he was and wondered why I had to pay such a high fee to see his little garden but I didn't want to miss anything. I do like Mexican food so I sort of wish he would have had his books available, signed of course. Nice photos sans people.

JulenaJo said...

I'd heard of Bayless but learned who he is from reading your post. His garden is really inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Great job capturing the space. I didn't get that many shots of the layout.

And "me, too". I never heard of Rick Bayless before CSF. And noone I ask has ever heard of him, either. I suspect he's largely a Chicago celebrity, with two restaurants there.

Gina said...

Kylee - I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who didn't know who the heck this guy was! Of course now I seem to see him every time I turn on the TV. Even caught a little of a re-run of an old episode of his PBS show this weekend.

Great pics!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Kylee, I had no idea who Rick was either. And I'm just going to say it: How in the world can one compost pile yield that much actual compost? I have quite a large bin and it doesn't even fill in one season... because the decomposing material shrinks in size so much. Ooh, magic compost! :)

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

That's an inspiring backyard productive garden. I love the layout and the use of large square stones. There is something very green and peaceful about it, as well as useful--but I'm guessing it must get full sun (though not searing, baking sun) for the veggies to grow.

I certainly have the space and am trying to use it wisely. Although I've visited some Austin vegetable gardens that seem to be able to handle our summer climate, I haven't gotten the knack yet.

Until then I just look at examples like this and dream.

Gail said...

Good morning Kylee! I did know who Rick was and have eaten at Topolobampo (excellent)...I was very curious about his garden. It was a delightful space...I loved that it felt cozy and comfortable and not over designed or staged! I think I could do with two full time assistants in my garden! gail

F Cameron said...

It's good that more and more chefs have their own gardens to grow produce for their restaurants. Interesting story and great photos!


Dee/reddirtramblings said...

You took great notes Kylee, or you have a steel trap for a memory. I only knew who he was because I always watched his t.v. show on PBS. I liked the vertical structures best and the second floor greenhouse.~~Dee

Annie in Austin said...

You guys are killing me - most of you got to go to see the Rick Bayless garden even though you didn't know who he was. Austin garden blogger Vertie, my husband Philo and I are all fans of the show so appreciate the chance to visit via your blogs.

My son & DiL love the restaurants - we've had Frontera Grill on our wishlist, hoping a trip to Chicago is in our future.

You really did a nice job on the photos, Kylee!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Unknown said...

Love this post, glad that you had such a great time in Chicago. Maybe next year I'll be able to go to the Spring Fling, too.

Ramble on Rose said...

Kylee, you got some great pictures from the tour! They really captured the great layout and how they packed so much into a small space!

Sylvana said...

I want to do that to my yard! No reason to have grass, really.

Cathy S. said...

Hi Kylee,

Rick Bayless is my husband's friend, he does have a great garden but he sure knows how to cook up a storm!


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