Cascabel: Rick Bayless is Starring in a Play!

Lookingglass Theater Company

If you're going to be in Chicago sometime before April 29th, and want to earn some very esoteric food snob points, you cannot miss Rick Bayless making his acting debut in Cascabel, a new play being staged by The Lookingglass Theater Company.

Yes, chef Rick Bayless, author, restaurateur and champion of Mexican regional cuisine, conceived of and has a starring role in a "theatrical feast" about love and food. During the 90-minute mixed-media extravaganza, Bayless cooks on stage, acts and even dances the tango. Since this is dinner theater, 120 audience members are also served a prix-fixe Bayless-designed menu while the theatrics and acrobatics go on around them. And here we thought L.A. had the lock on clever art/food tie-ins. We may just have been upstaged.

The story -- which sounds like a Cirque Berzerk mash-up of The Cook and Like Water For Chocolate -- is a "sensual tale of love and hunger." Of course it is. The plot follows the guests at a boarding house in Mexico, where they are cooked for by a mysterious chef whose food gives them magical powers and solves some love problems. (The stretch here for us is imagining Bayless -- the culinary equivalent of Dave Matthews -- can come across as even remotely mystical.)

Chicago theater is very well respected, and New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood gave it a nice enough review, even if he was a bit over-the-top with his love for the food. So despite the fact this seems a bit self-indulgent, we can't help but applaud the effort. If it works, all the better. You'll have to follow the Lookingglass Theater on Twitter to get updates on tickets for the sold-out show to find out. Then maybe book a flight.

We hope they'll consider restaging this in L.A. Maybe there's some space at Red O?

We smell Food Network Holiday Special.

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