A Chi-Town Culinary Experience

It’s all about exposure ya know?  Placing ourselves inside experiences or in front of food that shakes our foundation just a bit and changes the way we move through life.  That’s why a couple of Moms and I took 5 strapping college-bound boys to the Windy City this past week for a dive into a pure “old school”  Chi-town Wrigley Field experience.  Three of them have the the privilege of playing college baseball so a Cubs game at Wrigley was a real treat!  It was all hot dogs and deep dish pizza but I managed to sneak in lunch for the group at one of my favorite spots – Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo (right next to Frontera Grill, voted Best Restaurant in the U.S. in recent years).  (I sat on a foodie panel in Montreal with the International Association of Culinary Professionals a few years back and had the privilege of meeting Rick and hearing his story which just makes his unique Mexican-inspired gourmet fare all the more exciting and approachable.)  Anyway, back to the boys.  I wanted to expose them to a culinary experience that would change the way they looked at food and I think it worked.   They were blown away.  From the Agua Fresca made with fresh lime juice, cucumbers and mint,  three versions of Ceviche and an unusual version of Chilaquiles made with tortilla strips, chiles and chicken to the Smoked Duck Fajitas, a Cajeta Tart with Sea Salt and Goat Cheese Ice Cream, and several other dishes….these guys were ALL OVER IT!  Tasting forks were flying from plate to plate amid “Holy Cows!” and “OMG’s.”   I sat back and took it all in.  It was such a pleasure to see their faces when they took the first bite of something they had never had before.  To me, that’s what it’s all about.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Deep dish pizza was also a religious experience of its own kind!  But to see these guys get to experience pure culinary genius at its South of the Border best was a true foodie experience for me.  This desire to expose the world to all things culinary lies at the heart and soul of  why I hopped careers to launch The Culinary Center of Kansas City.  It’s why each of us at The Center comes to work in the morning.  We hope it shows.  See you in our kitchens!     — Laura Laiben O’Rourke

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