Master chef plans cooking, signing tour

Posted 10/1/10

In the search for its annual guest author, Douglas County Libraries wanted a cultured, eloquent speaker with widespread popularity and a flare for …

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Master chef plans cooking, signing tour


In the search for its annual guest author, Douglas County Libraries wanted a cultured, eloquent speaker with widespread popularity and a flare for the amazing. They found the perfect candidate.

Celebrity chef Rick Bayless will stop by Douglas County for a one-day cooking tour and author reception Oct. 13. Bayless, who was crowned “Top Chef Master” during a reality show of the same name in August 2009, has made his book tour a one-man show. He was the overwhelming favorite out of dozens of authors during a vote of library employees earlier this year.

Library officials considered Bayless’s appeal to various age groups and sexes in making the decision, but also his friendly nature and creative cooking techniques. He is “not a ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ kind of guy,” says one library staffer, referring to the fiery Fox reality cooking show starring chef Gordon Ramsey.

Bayless, the host of a popular PBS series called “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” will begin his day in Highlands Ranch during a private lunch at noon at The Old Blinking Light Restaurant. Chef Kevin Fitzgerald will cook a meal in tribute to Bayless, and menu items will reflect Bayless’s recipes. He will mingle with about 60 guests before performing a cooking demonstration and tasting at 3 p.m. at the Lone Tree Recreation Center.

Bayless will demonstrate two recipes and ticket holders will enjoy tastings and a book sale/signing. Both events sold out quickly, and tickets were only available for the author presentation the night of Oct. 13 at the Wildlife Experience. A 200-guest reception before the presentation also sold out.

Bayless, 56, is widely recognized for his ability to modernize traditional Mexican dishes while using local produce and goods to build the meal. He is promoting his latest book, “ Fiesta at Ricks: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends.”

The increasing prominence of cooking shows on the Food Network and Bravo has launched Bayless and other chefs to the top of the American celebrity pool. The cooking sections at many Douglas County Libraries locations have long maintained one of the highest rates of circulation, said Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, adult services department head for the library district.

Bayless was viewed as an in-demand guest author who could put on an exhilarating show during his speech to a local audience. It is Douglas County Libraries’ third author reception. Pundit and humor columnist Dave Barry visited in 2008, and author David Baldacci came to Douglas County last year.

“We wanted to think outside the box this year,” Kelsen Huber said, adding first-time guests can expect a fun and lively event.

Douglas County residents who attend will find that the authors are accessible. They have an opportunity to get up close and personal during book signings and a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation. As many as 400 people are expected at the presentation, which features an interactive, tech-driven demonstration this year, in addition to stories and anecdotes from the road.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Douglas County Libraries Foundation, but organizers did not make raising money their primary objective, said Kerri Martin, program and outreach librarian for Douglas County Libraries.

Martin, a fan of cooking shows and Bayless, said even she will have to maintain her professionalism and avoid becoming star struck during the event. County residents showed their approval for Bayless as the 2010 guest author through their overwhelming response when tickets went on sale.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to have a fun night out at a relatively low cost and support the library at the same time, “ Martin said.

For more information, visit or call 303-791-7323.


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