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Mexico -- One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless

Mexico -- One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless

In MEXICO - ONE PLATE AT A TIME WITH RICK BAYLESS, the beloved chef and restaurateur seamlessly weaves together techniques, recipes, cultural musings and off-the-wall surprises. This season Rick presents start-to-finish, stress-free, Mexican-inspired fiestas packed with creativity, color and flavor. Throughout the series, Rick translates his Mexican travel adventures into unforgettable parties from intimate fireside suppers and casual backyard cocktails with friends to big, boisterous bashes for 25. Rick also suggests clever and practical ideas to make each party special, like creating signature drinks for the occasion, serving ceviche in glass votive holders and transforming supermarket salad bar items into a hip Mexican crudites platter. And to help set the mood, he offers party playlists featuring his favorite musical finds and gardening tips for growing one's own ingredients.

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"You are what you eat." Brillat Savarin's statement fuels Rick's tour of the 21 de Noviembre market in downtown Oaxaca. We uncover the incredibly rich culture of the market and its role in the daily lives and meals of the locals. Mounds of tomatoes, chiles and cilantro inspire salsa. Fresh chickens inspire Rick to spit-roast chickens in his backyard grill. Baskets of black beans motivate a platter of enfrijoladas topped with chorizo. The amazing market day ends with a stop at Chaguita, a 200 year-old frozen ice and ice cream stand and a favorite of Rick's for more than three decades.

Restaurateur Gabriella Camara, owner of Contramar, just might be the most energetic woman in Mexico City. Raised by a family that loves food and fine service, she dreamed a dream of fresh fish served simply and respectfully. At 23, she opened her first restaurant, Contramar. Sixteen years later, Contramar remains at the top of everyone's list for phenomenal seafood and superior service. Her vision has expanded to include Baja's top Chef Jair Tellez.

Carlos Yescas is a cheesehead on a mission: Put the fine, outstanding artisanal cheeses of Mexico on everyone's radar screen. Yescas scours the country for the best cheese producers; then, he scours Mexico City's best restaurants for chefs that will use those cheeses on their menus. One chef he's had success with is Jorge Vallejo, owner of Quintonil, who happily uses a super-rich doble crema cheese from Chiapas to make his mother's version of huazontles, and a tangy, bouncy quesillo from Chiapas for an elegant cheese soup.

If you could define the singular challenge facing Yucatecan chefs, it's about honoring the past while pushing forward. Perhaps no one is more emblematic of the effort than Pedro Evia, co-owner of Ku'uk, a molecular fine dining palace housed in a restored Merida mansion. Rick and Pedro start their day talking tradition over tacos at Wayan'e, a busy family-run taco stand in Merida. Then, Pedro invites Rick to his home, where Pedro and his mother make traditional sopa de lentejas. At Ku'uk, Pedro shows us his ultra-modern take on the same dish.

Ever seen a kid in a candy store? Their excitement pales next to a chef in a market. An early morning trek to the Central de Abastos, one of the world's largest markets, with Rick Bayless and Chef Eduardo "Lalo" Garcia, proves exhilarating. Neither chef can talk fast enough about all the dishes they want to make from the mind-boggling stacks of nopales, the fragrant herbs, the crisp greens, the juicy pitayas and mangos.

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Sat Aug 10th, 3:00pm
Sun Aug 11th, 3:30am
Wed Aug 21st, 3:30am
Wed Sep 4th, 6:30pm
Wed Sep 4th, 9:30pm
Thu Sep 5th, 3:30am

Tacos al Pastor are Mexico City's most iconic taco, all red chile-marinated pork roasting slowly on a vertical spit and sliced with glistening pineapple into a warm corn tortilla. Rick offers a glimpse of the bustling city's taco culture, from busy daytime eateries to late-night vendors. No trompo? No problem. Rick makes a version on his grill that will please al pastor purists, then it's back to Chicago for grill-roasted black cod al pastor.

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