As if Chicago's celebrity chef Rick Bayless weren't busy enough managing Xoco, Topolobambo and the many incarnations of Frontera, his newest culinary endeavor will challenge him to not only feed his patrons' bellies, but also their souls, in a one-month theatrical collaboration with the Lookingglass Theater.
Conceived by Bayless in collaboration with playwright Heidi Stillman and circus artist Tony Hernandez, "Cascabel" tells the story of a chef, played by Bayless, working at a Mexican boarding house in the 1940s plagued by unrequited love for a woman with no appetite. The play unfolds alongside appetizers and a three-course meal of cuisine that befits the setting, prepared by Bayless before the show and finished in the theater.
Like the show's subtitle, "dinner, daring, desire," "Cascabel" has three meanings: a small, round chili pepper, a bell and a rattlesnakes' rattle. In the play, it's the name of Bayless' beloved's boarding house, and an ingredient in his cuisine. The elements of theater, food and acrobatics will be equally convergent.
"From our very first conversations together, it became instantly clear that Rick and Lookingglass are interested in exploring the same thing: the live, communal experience, how we humans share food together and share stories together," Artistic Director Andrew White told Broadway World Chicago. "Bringing these great Chicago artists to our home on Michigan Avenue also makes for the perfect complement to our Chicago-centric season."
Special arrangements with the city’s Department of Water Management were required to install cooking tools in the historic Water Tower Pumping Station that hosts the Lookingglass Theater, although no open flames are permitted, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
“We wish we could have a live flame, but we will find ways of suggesting that,” Bayless told the Sun-Times.
WATCH: Rick Bayless describe the concept piece at a press conference Tuesday: