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Rick Bayless Headlining Food & Wine's First Mexico Fest

Rick Bayless has won critical acclaim for bringing haute Mexican and, more recently, Mexican street food, to them masses in Chicago. And now the award-winning Top Chef Master will head back to the source.

Food & Wine announced today that Bayless will be the featured chef at the first-ever Food & Wine Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo March 26-28. He'll join local acclaimed chefs and mixologists at the three-day food festival for cooking demos, seminars and tastings. But Bayless will get back to his roots by also leading tours of local food markets, which will help him decide what to prepare for his cooking demos.

The celeb chef isn't planning on concepting his menus until he arrives in Mexico. For one, he can't travel south of the border with the ingredients. And by hitting local markets, festival attendees have better access to the food he'll cook with.

"We're going to go down a day early because I want to walk the markets and see what's there," Bayless said. "It'll be more helpful to the people around there if I gather stuff at the markets as opposed to saying, 'this is from my new book, Fiesta at Rick's.' And since the festival is still a few months away, Bayless didn't want to select some items from the book and be held to that if when he arrives in Mexico he finds other ingredients he'd want to play with.

At this time, the focus is on Bayless working alongside local chefs, but if anything changes and other U.S. chefs get added to the bill, we'll let you know.

· Say Ole! With Bayless [~EChi~]

Rick Bayless [Photo: Happy Chic]