Celebrity chef Rick Bayless and his crew made a stop in Houston on Sunday en route to Oaxaca, Mexico to film Season Nine of Mexico: One Plate at a Time — but foggy local conditions led to a canceled flight.
Rather than lie around and lament his forced layover, Bayless used the opportunity to check in on the local plant that processes his Frontera Salsa and to do what Houstonians know how to do best: Eat.
And since Bayless wasn't able to make it to Mexico proper, he made a stop at chef Hugo Ortega's namesake restaurant, where he sampled regional specialties like Lechón (achiote-rubbed tender suckling pig with crisp skin and habanero salsa), Cachetes de Res (beef cheeks with salsa de pasilla), Cochito con Mole Xico (braised pork shoulder, mashed plantains and pasilla-dried plum sauce from Veracruz), Chipotle Chocolate Cake and much more.
And since Bayless wasn't able to make it to Mexico proper, he made a stop at chef Hugo Ortega's namesake restaurant.
"Hugo and Rick have met before, many years ago, at Rick's restaurant in Chicago, and they saw and spoke with one another again last year at the James Beard Awards in NYC," Paula Murphy, a spokesperson for Hugo's, tells CultureMap.
Ortega gave Bayless a tour of the kitchen and a copy of his cookbook; Bayless graciously posed for photographs with staff and called Ortega "[o]ne of the US best Mex chefs, super generous, great guy."
The noted chef also sampled the culinary offerings at another Lower Westheimer eatery during his surprise Houston stay.
For his part, Bayless praised the restaurant's charcuterie tasting and its "chix-fried chix livers," but claimed that the Korean braised goat and dumplings were the "biggest hit."