Chicago Theater Opening: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER (Chef Rick Bayless and Windy City Playhouse at Petterino’s)

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by Tony Frankel on August 1, 2021

in Theater-Chicago


James Beard Award-winning Chef Rick Bayless and Windy City Playhouse Artistic Director Amy Rubenstein and Associate Artistic Director Carl Menninger are teaming up to create A Recipe for Disaster, an outrageous farcical experience set in the frenetic world of restaurants beginning October 6, 2021 at Petterino’s, located in the heart of the Chicago theater district at 150 N Dearborn. The entrance to Windy City Playhouse’s space is just around the corner on Randolph Street.

Based on Bayless’s real-life experiences, the story revolves around a special event at a well-known restaurant where everything that could possibly go wrong occurs, sending the restaurant staff into a tailspin. A drunk chef, a couple in crisis, a dishonest health inspector and a spy from a competing restaurant all contribute to the chaos with side-splitting results.

It’s influencer night at The Contumacious Pig, one of the city’s hottest restaurants, and with folks like @VeganChic in attendance, it’s bound to be an exciting evening. There’s only one problem: the head Chef just called in sick and the Sous Chef might have taken the wrong pill to calm his nerves. The health inspector showed up unannounced, there’s possibly a spy from CP’s biggest competition in tow, and oh yeah, the busboy is hiding a wild pig. In the meantime, the GM is trying to hold it all together while keeping customers from tweeting negative reviews. Can this team of misfits join together to offer up a great dining experience, or will they end up (literally) with egg on their face?

In 2012 and again in 2014, Rick joined forces with Lookingglass Theatre Company to create Cascabel, the story of food’s capacity to change lives. The audience shared a meal with the cast of actors, musicians, singers and circus performers as the tale of unrequited love resolved into magical beauty. A Recipe for Disaster combines immersive theater, food, and farce. Guests are invited inside the restaurant for “influencer night.” The actors will not touch or talk to audience directly, allowing you to feel like a “fly on the wall” as the hilarity unfolds around you. Admission also includes six bite-sized tastings by Bayless, one cocktail sampling from Lanie Bayless, and two wine pairings.

A Recipe for Disaster will be directed by David H. Bell, who won a Jeff Award for his direction of Windy City Playhouse’s smash hit Southern Gothic, which ran for more than a year. The design team includes set designer William Boles, who won a Jeff Award for his design of Windy City Playhouse’s Boys in the Band, and costume designer Uriel Gomez, who was nominated for a Jeff Award for his work on the same production.

Windy City Playhouse’s flagship location on Irving Park Road is currently being utilized by event production company Fever to present The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience. “While we are not involved artistically with Fever’s ‘submersive’ cocktail experience, we are happy to be partnering with such an innovative company,” said Windy City Playhouse Artistic Director Amy Rubenstein. “The more immersive, experience-driven entertainment, the better. We truly believe this is the future of live theater.”

Tickets to A Recipe for Disaster are currently on sale through December 26th, 2021, with regular and VIP options (including an expanded food and beverage menu) available. Ticket prices vary based on day of the week, and time of year. Check out the performance calendar for up to date pricing.

Below is the standard schedule, but always check for changes.

Wednesdays 7:30pm
Thursdays 7:30pm
Fridays 8:00pm
Saturdays 3:30pm & 8:00pm
Sundays 1:30pm & 6:00pm

About Rick Bayless

Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. His highly rated public television series, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” is broadcast coast to coast and his nine cookbooks have earned multiple high-profile accolades.

Located in Chicago, Rick’s Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have each received the “Outstanding Restaurant of the Year” designation from the James Beard Foundation — an unprecedented feat for side-by-side restaurants. His wildly popular fast-casual Xoco debuted in 2009 and Tortas Frontera at Chicago’s O’Hare airport has changed the face of airport dining. In 2016, he opened Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs. In 2018, Rick expanded his Clark Street restaurants by opening Bar Sótano, a Oaxacan-inspired mezcal bar with modern Mexican bar food. Tortazo, Rick’s new fast-casual concept, debuted in 2020 in Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower, with plans to open an outpost in New York City in fall 2021.

Always a philanthropist, Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly 200 grants totaling nearly $3 million. He also launched the Frontera Scholarship, a culinary school scholarship for Mexican-American students in Chicago. In 2019, Rick founded Impact Culinary Training, a restaurant job readiness program on the city’s west side. And in 2017 he established the Bayless Family Foundation to support the city’s vibrant theater scene with grants to Chicago theater companies totaling $1.5 million to date.

The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle–the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people.

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