While the Bayless-engineered menu at Hollywood hot-spot Red O has taken a drubbing from L.A. critics, it’s a harder task to criticize the chef’s song selections as he steps up to KCRW’s guest-DJ project, which produces a few chef-driven giggles here and there. Who can really find issue with Buena Vista Social Club and Al Green, after all? So what’s on Bayless’s playlist?
The Chicago chef starts with Ibrahim Ferrer’s capture of "Marieta," the Cuban song he fell in love with in Mexico, even while he admits the lyrics get "sort of raunchy" with allusions to smelly food and sleeping around. Al Green’s "Love and Happiness" is a favorite of both Rick’s staff and his daughter, often played over dish-washing sessions because "Everyone really enjoys the grooviness of it." Henri Salvador’s "Mademoiselle" resembles some of Rick’s dishes, blending a little European and Caribbean heritage together in one place. But which of his song-picks best reflects Bayless’s own self-image?
Bayless takes a dip into Pink Martini, announcing with great bravado, "Pink Martini is a lot like I am – they can sort of do anything and even though I’m incredibly well-known for cooking Mexican food, I like to cook everything under the sun….they really capture the feel of different things and yet, at the same time, it’s always Pink Martini." Though we’re yet to try out his non-Mexican metier, we’ll give it up to Bayless that he’s mixed up a fairly solid session in the DJ booth.
To hear Bayless break it down, check out the full five-song podcast on KCRW’s website.