Last Wednesday I had dinner with NAHREP President Leo Pareja and Raul Espinoza from Bay Equity Home Loans at Rick Bayless’ stylish Mexican restaurant, Red O, in La Jolla. Only three months old, Red O is already one of the hottest tickets in San Diego. The Bayless name incites controversy from foodies and fans of the celebrity chef scene for one primary reason – Señor Bayless, who is one of the world’s leading experts in Mexican food, also happens to be a white guy from Oklahoma. This spawns a myriad of interesting questions. Does eating ethnic cuisine prepared by someone not of that ethnicity constitute a form of “ethnic theft”? Would you be excited to try the new Korean restaurant where the chef is a Mexican guy from East LA? Is it the same as casting a white movie star to play a real life Latino hero (Argo)? Believe it or not, these questions are being debated on blogs and in culinary circles throughout the country. Bayless, who is the brother of Fox Sports Anchor, Skip Bayless (can you believe it?) has prepared state dinners for the Mexican president and spent years in Mexico studying the rich history of Mexican food creations from Oaxaca to Michoacán. For what it’s worth, the restaurant was great. If you are a fan of mole, Red O has some of the best. I hope Bayless’ talent and love for Mexican food spreads across the globe and creates a new wave of opportunities for young Mexican chefs everywhere.
Author: Gary Acosta
Gary Acosta is an entrepreneur, public policy advocate, investor, and thought leader passionate about advancing prosperity for Latinos and other underserved communities.