We caught up with legendary food luminary Rick Bayless this morning at local seafood wholesaler Catalina Offshore Products as the lauded chef rolled through town at the tail end of a four day trip through Baja with staff from his award-winning restaurants in Chicago. Curated by Baja Wine + Food’s Fernando Gaxiola, the culinary journey reportedly included lunch at Telefónica Gastro Park in Tijuana and a dinner with former Bracero chef Javier Plascencia at his Valle de Guadalupe stunner Finca Altozano.
The celebrated chef, once posited by Eater as the “Most Interesting Man in the World”, first visited Catalina back in 2015 when he headlined the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Since then, Bayless launched Leña Brava, his showcase for Baja cuisine in Chicago which regularly features opah and hiramasa from Catalina; the restaurant’s sous chef, Stephen Sandoval, is from San Diego and was part of the group getting behind-the-scenes tour from the fish market’s ambassador and fishmonger Tommy Gomes, which included education on local lobster, sea urchin and now-in-season local spot prawns.
San Diegans will get a taste of Bayless’ cuisine when Red O Restaurant finally arrives in La Jolla; it’s currently scheduled to open in late April. With several locations in the LA-area, Bayless told Eater that his primary role is to consult with each outpost’s executive chef, though his signature culinary style will also be reflected on the menu.