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Singer Lyle Lovett Insults Rick Bayless For Not Being Mexican

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 24, 2012 7:20PM

Rick Bayless serving at "Taco Hell" at Lula Cafe.
Rick Bayless isn't Mexican. As the most famous American chef who cooks Mexican food, this has created some minor stirs over the years. Some journalists and bloggers have wondered why a white guy is famous for cooking Mexican food. We say "meh;" if he cooks great food and respects the culture, who cares? But yesterday, Eater pointed out that country singer Lyle Lovett, speaking to Garden and Gun Magazine (that's a thing?) opined "I’ve never eaten Mexican food in Chicago. And, no disrespect, but it can’t be that good if a guy named Bayless is cooking it."

This isn't the first time this has come up. In 2009, a blogger for ChicagoNow complained about Bayless being "the spokesman for Mexican food in the United States," and argued that it took away from the great Mexican and latino chefs in Chicago to have Bayless get all the attention. In 2010, some objected to Bayless cooking a state dinner for the President of Mexico for the same reason.

Lovett retracted the comment on Twitter late yesterday, telling Bayless that "Rick, I was just joking! Not fair of me. I bet your Mexican food is as amazing as they say. I'd love to try it. My joke was in poor taste, unlike Rick's Mexican food. I plan to check it out my next trip to Chicago." Bayless responded with dignity - first pointing out that it must be a slow news day, and then announcing that he'd welcome Lovett as his restaurant. Way to keep it classy, Chef. Chef Bayless has done a lot to popularize authentic Mexican food and add it to the American fine dining pantheon, and anyone who hasn't tasted his food probably shouldn't comment.