Just Chef Rick Bayless and his WellnessMat

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Celebrated chef, restaurateur, author, TV personality and winner of Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters, Chef Rick Bayless knows firsthand that Mexican food is all about the best and most authentic ingredients and ‘preparation.’ Putting together an authentic Mexican meal means spending a lot of time on one's feet and strong coffee.  Guess who is right there underfoot providing Chef Bayless comfort & support?  Yep, you guessed it…WellnessMats!  We are thrilled to be Chef Rick’s favorite anti-fatigue kitchen mat

 

“Walking on WellnessMats is like walking on clouds!”

~ Chef Rick Bayless

Chef Rick Bayless is no stranger to the kitchen, celebrity chef-dom or superb Mexican cuisine. Bayless has built a reputation as a consummate pro as well as a stable of excellent restaurants in the Windy City (Chicago), including; Frontera Grill, Topolobampo & XOCO (River North & Wicker Park), Toratas Frontera and Frontera Fresco. In addition, Bayless also successfully operates Red O with not one, but two California locations!

Having perfected a refined albeit traditional Mexican cooking style that embraces the essential flavors of the cuisine, Bayless does so with a modern twist on both the ingredients and techniques. Celebrated as one of America’s finest chefs by the culinary literati, celebrity chefs and restaurateurs alike, Chef Bayless’ passion and enthusiasm for the culture are infectious - and evident in every bite. He takes deep personal pride in preparing food for others and understands that food is very personal; a cultural and emotional expression on every plate. Bayless upholds his responsibility for the craft and the cultural tradition in every bite, serving food from the heart.

SEE: Healthy Grilling Makes for Healthy Living

A few months back, Chef Rick approached us with an idea for his new private dining area aptly called The Library at flagship restaurant, Frontera Grill. Already a WellnessMats fan and ‘active user,’ he needed something a little bit different for this particular space…the cooking area was an unusual size and shape. Dare we say, Chef Rick presented us with a puzzle to help him solve…

The prep team at Frontera Grill demands a mat that is durable enough to meet the rigors of a professional kitchen; yet comfortable enough to keep everyone (that often includes the guests!) comfortable while they are standing. The Puzzle Piece Collection by WellnessMats provided everything and more in one customized flooring solution. Available in both Corner and Runner sections, these pieces that are engineered to hug every tight turn and span any length. The interlocking ‘puzzle’ edges make assembly quick and easy so moving them around or cleaning are virtually effortless.

Long story short, Team Bayless found the customized comfort they needed with a custom Puzzle Piece Mat – Problem. Solved! The ‘Frontera Puzzle Mat’ as it has come to be known “lives” in The Library and runs the length of a long, exposed kitchen island where the team prepares, serves and encourages guests to get involved with the food. This unique solution includes interlocking puzzle pieces for ease of maintenance, cleaning and the adjustment of the mat size.

 
"We picked the WellnessMats Puzzle Piece mat for many reasons — it's sleek, comfortable and non-skid. It is also sized to accommodate the changing needs of the private dining area…”

Chef Bayless is pretty persuasive, but if you still aren’t convinced, here are a few more reasons to consider WellnessMats. We like to call them MATtributes

  • Unmatched comfort
  • 3/4″ thickness
  • Edges will never curl
  • No trip beveled edges
  • Antimicrobial
  • Puncture & heat resistant
  • Stain & dirt resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Safe & non-toxic (PVC free)
  • 7-year warranty

SEE MORE: WellnessMats Kitchen Mats

Long hours on the line take a hard toll on the body day after day. This Culinary Hall of Famer rewards aching feet, hips, calves and lower back than with the ‘ground support’ professional chefs and home cooks alike have come to expect from our premier kitchen flooring solutions.

Chef Bayless is so thrilled with his WellnessMat, he sent us this recipe to share with you! Below, learn how to make the Cheesy Shrimp Tacos with Rick Bayless. 

Servings: 15 Tacos

Ingredients

  • 12ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 or 5 plum) ripe tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • Fresh serrano chiles to taste, (roughly 3 to 5), or even more if you like it really picante), stemmed, seeded if you wish, and finely chopped
  • 1/4cup chopped cilantro, thick bottom stems removed
  • 1large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 1small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1tablespoon Mexican hot sauce (such as Valentina or Tamazula), plus extra for serving
  • 1tablespoon ketchup
  • 2teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional, but you might like the zing it adds)
  • Salt
  • About 1/3cup vegetable oil, divided use
  • 1pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined if you wish, and chopped into pieces a little smaller than ½ inch
  • 15 corn tortillas
  • 8ounces shredded Mexican melting cheese (full-flavored Chihuahua or Jack cheese work b

 Making the” salsa.” Scoop the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, garlic and white onion into a bowl and mix well. Stir in the hot sauce, ketchup and optional lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about a scant teaspoon.

Making the shrimp filling. Heat a very large (12-inch), heavy skillet—nonstick works really well—over medium-high. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil and when it is hot, add the “salsa” vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until everything softens together, about 5 mintues. Scoop in the shrimp and stir until they are barely cooked through (they can still be slightly translucent at the center)—about 3 minutes. Scoop the shrimp mixture into a bowl, wash and dry the skillet, and return it to medium heat.

Assembling the encamaronadas. Heavily film the bottom of the skillet with oil. When hot, lay in a tortilla. After a few seconds, flip it, then scatter a couple of tablespoons of shredded cheese over one side, top with a generous tablespoon of the filling. Use tongs to fold the uncovered part of the tortilla over the filling, forming a turnover. Gently press flat. Continue to make encamaronadas in the same fashion until the skillet is full, frying them until crisp—2 to 3 minutes per side. As they become crisp, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve right away with more Mexican hot sauce.

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