Rick Bayless @ BK
October 27, 2003 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Recently, Rick Bayless has been making some appearances in Burger King ads for some new sandwiches they're trying to sell. If you've ever seen Rick's show, you know that he's a true lover of food. Why would he do an ad for BK? The money, you say? Many seem to agree. Here's what Rick Bayless has to say for himself: "I decided that it’s time for those of us in the healthy food/sustainable food movement to applaud any positive steps we see in the behemoth quick-service restaurant chains." I have noticed that Rick looks like he's in pretty good shape, despite the fact that he occasionally cooks with "a little freshly rendered pork fat". Maybe he's for real.
posted by blakewest (28 comments total)
Rick's response is worth reading. He wants to see people who know nothing about real food at least have an opportunity to eat something halfway decent at the place they already frequent. Also, "all the money is going to our Foundation to support small, sustainable family farms around Chicago."
posted by Tubes at 6:51 AM on October 27, 2003

I've been wondering who the hell that guy was in the BK ads. I hate when ads assume you know who someone is, and you have never seen them before. But why oh why is Rachael Ray stooping to appear in these ads?! I mean, sure, she's totally hot and seeing her persuades me to by ANYTHING, but BK? Say it isn't so, Rachael! (And call me!)
posted by emptybowl at 6:56 AM on October 27, 2003

You know, his approach does make sense--you're not going to get people who eat a lot of fast and processed foods to eat organic/unprocessed foods overnight. I was especially glad to see that he knows that most of the millions of people who are eating at BK cannot afford to eat at his restaurant, even if they were aware of it.
posted by eilatan at 7:03 AM on October 27, 2003

Nothing wrong with pork fat. Healthier than the oil they use in BK now.
posted by stbalbach at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2003

Rick Bayless? I'm sure I echo the sentiments of a lot of people when I say, "eh? who?". I clicked on the links just thinking that the name "Rick Bayless" presented so very confidently must be somebody I should know about... but following the links, I don't get it.

Is this something that you would have to have access to American television cooking shows to understand? Because I don't have access to American television cooking shows.
posted by taz at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2003

taz, I have access to American cooking shows and I still don't know who the hell he is.
posted by emptybowl at 7:43 AM on October 27, 2003

I had no idea who he was either...and burger king has priced these new chicken sandwiches higher than other menu items (at least near me--mickeyd's did the same thing with their "healthy" stuff), so it remains to be seen if these do well.

I also see a problem in that these commercials are nothing at all like their other advertising, and seem to be targeted at people who don't regularly go there, so I don't know how effective they'll be in getting people who regularly eat at burger king to change their regular fast-food choices.
posted by amberglow at 7:44 AM on October 27, 2003

Well, Rick Bayless is one of if not the foremost American authority on Mexican cooking, which is appropriate as he is selling a Mexican-style sandwich for BK. Did you try searching for him at amazon.com? In addition to his own books, he is quoted in such culinary standards as The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition . Rachel Ray, of 30 Minutes Meals (and my personal culinary hero) is also promoting a BK sandwich, probably with justifications similar to Bayless's, although I haven't seen any public declaration of such.
posted by nohat at 7:51 AM on October 27, 2003


surely one of the functions of Metafilter is expose you to things you may not otherwise have seen. To complain that you don't know who such and such is seems a little odd on a site which has posters from around the world, who post on a diverse range of subjects.
posted by johnny novak at 7:58 AM on October 27, 2003

There's a bio of Rick Bayless here. He runs a popular restaurant in Chicago, the Frontera Grill. He's partly credited with exposing the US to real Mexican cuisine outside of the stardard tacos and burritos. I've seen him do guest appearances on FoodTV shows a few times, and he has his own series on PBS called "Mexico One Plate at a Time."
posted by dnash at 7:58 AM on October 27, 2003

For what it's worth, Bayless well-known cooking show Mexico, One Plate at a Time (which also spawned a book) was on public television, not cable. I'd never actually seen him on tv before seeing the BK ad. I do have a copy of the book, given to me as a gift, and I did once try to eat at one of his restaurants, Topolambampo. (after being aprised of a 2+ hour wait, I ended up at a restaurant run by a guy who used to work for Bayless, Chilpancingo, which was outstanding).

In any event. When I saw the BK ad, I occupied myself with screaming "WHORE!" at the tv set. It wasn't clear if my partner was amused or worried.

It's actually kind of nice to see Bayless' explanation of why he did the ad...
posted by jburka at 8:06 AM on October 27, 2003

I haven't seen the commericals with Bayless in them, but I did see the Rachael Ray ads and thought they were great because I hate her and I hope that her giant, treacly smirk wrapped around that fast-food sandwich will discredit her and they'll take her crappy shows off TV and she'll fall into obscurity and have to move back home and be supported by her Cajun Daddy and Italian Mama.

Normally, I avoid fast food for health reasons and to vote with my dollar against the Fast Food Nationization of the US. However, we stopped for dinner-on-the-fly while driving to Atlanta for the weekend and I requested BK so I could try one of these healthier sandwiches. I got the water/salad/chicken sandwich combo for under $5 and while it had enough sodium in it to give an elephant a heart attack, it was pretty tasty. I probably won't add Burger King to my regular rotation of local lunch places, but it's nice to know that if I'm in a pinch, there's something slightly less horrifying than a greasy burger and fries out there.
posted by jennyb at 8:25 AM on October 27, 2003

It's actually kind of nice to see Bayless' explanation of why he did the ad...

Yeah, nice, but I would take the number of people on this thread (myself included) who had never heard of him previous to this as a more likely explanation.
posted by soyjoy at 8:32 AM on October 27, 2003

johnny novak, you say "surely one of the functions of Metafilter is (to) expose you to things you may not otherwise have seen", and I agree with you, but to say "Here's what Fedtf Abvelfousrse has to say for himself about bfftlebitttt" is not quite the same thing as saying "popular U.S. chef and recognized bfftlebitttt* expert Fedtf Abvelfousrse* has testified in nationwide ads that Burger King's Bfftlebitttt-GoatBits* are yummy, and many seem to agree*; here's what he has to say for himself*. (*=link)
posted by taz at 8:40 AM on October 27, 2003

Oh my god! I went to high school with Fedtf Abvelfousrse!
posted by jennyb at 8:46 AM on October 27, 2003

Rachael Ray can't be my TV girlfriend any more.
posted by 2sheets at 9:08 AM on October 27, 2003

Metafilter: I went to high school with Fedtf Abvelfousrse!
posted by amberglow at 9:12 AM on October 27, 2003

2sheets, is it ok with you if I ask her out?
posted by eastlakestandard at 12:04 PM on October 27, 2003

Anthony Bourdain offerred his own opinion about Bayless's BK ads on egullet (scroll down and look for Bourdain) saying, rather poetically: "...to sell a product you KNOW to be utter shit..in direct contravention of your previously stated lofty principals is queasifying--it's selling out the very essence of your credibility. BK wanted Bayless and was willing to pay precisely BECAUSE he was such a prominent spokesman for 'freshness' and 'Authenticity'...
I'm not even talking about 'ethics' or 'principles' as the central issue here. Chefs are rarely artists. They're not even doctors or lawyers. For me it's solely and entirely a question of 'How the fuck does Bayless wake up tomorrow and look at his stupid face in the bathroom mirror and not want to projectile vomit?'"
posted by adrober at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2003

I think the BK ads were aimed more at people who knew Rick then the public, even if Rick wants to think otherwise. I went and tried the sandwich, it wasn't bad...for BK. But hey I'm all for better fast food, so good for him.

And I'm highly glad someone else thinks Rachel Ray should be kicked off the airwaves. He shows (on Food Network) are very good ideas. She, on the other hand, is not. And I think the only people who believe she is totally hot, haven't heard her talk, or attempt to cook and giggle at herself somehow thinking we care what she has to say.
posted by stryder at 12:11 PM on October 27, 2003

I recognized Bayless by face, but was unfamiliar with Ray. That's what I get for being able to pull in only NBC and PBS with my bunny ears. They are odd choices for celebrity endorsers, in that their biggest fans aren't likely to start eating at BK - and the McDonald's or Wendy's regulars who BK hopes to lure in don't know them from Joe Schmoe.

When is Lidia going to endorse Olive Garden?
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:31 PM on October 27, 2003

[Stryder, I completely agree. Rachel Ray is like grown-up little girl whose mommy told her that everything she did was adorable and so she rides that notion to the furthest reaches of human tolerance and beyond: her food may be moderately yummy-looking but her personality is so nauseating I don't think I could keep it down.]
posted by adrober at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2003

I love Rick Bayless--his style of cooking isn't too complicated (Diana Kennedy?), nor is it too convenient/junky tasting (Rachel Ray!). But it's all dang good. His ads have me curious about the BK sandwich. As far as Rachel, she is pretty cute and giggly, but that's about as far as it goes.
posted by banjotwang at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2003

Thanks adrober -- man, I love Tony Bourdain. At first I was horrified when his "Cook's Tour" show came to Food Network, but then was delighted to see him constantly lambasting FN on camera, and especially in the accompanying book, tee hee.

On Bayless et al., I have no more outrage to expend on this topic since I vented it all at Paul Newman for shilling salad dressing at McDonalds. Now I say, join 'em -- we're not going to get the obesity epidemic under control by sending everyone to eat at Chez Panisse.
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:35 PM on October 27, 2003

we're not going to get the obesity epidemic under control by sending everyone to eat at Chez Panisse.

Probably not. However, y'all can feel free to send me to eat at Chez Panisse anytime...you're picking up the check, right?
posted by kayjay at 3:59 PM on October 27, 2003

Rachael Ray recently did some bikini photos for FHM magazine. No, I am not joking.
posted by Quinn at 4:59 PM on October 27, 2003

(OT: amberglow just made me laugh out loud for the first time in a couple days. Thanks!)
posted by Tubes at 8:06 PM on October 27, 2003

Bayless, one of the most innovative culinary artists, sells himself out with a piss-poor attempt to get us to think that some processed food-like product, engineered to be identical in 11,350 restaurants in 58 countries worldwide, can replace the fresh, locally grown ingredients he's promoted for years. It's an assault on everyone who loves food as something more than something you can procure and shove in your mouth during your allocated 30-minute lunch hour.

Hopefully the foodies in Chicago will not stand for this culinary treason, and will run Rick and his restaurants out of town, just like the Trib did with his brother (Skip, an ex-Tribune reporter, allegedly was canned for staging a campaign to trade Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace away from the Cubs).

I'm sure Rick will find work as a BK manager, working the grill in a rest stop franchise somewhere on an interstate in the southwest, in one of the hundreds of corporate food troughs that threaten the livelihoods of the endangered local diners, and mom and pop restaurants, which still serve food grown and prepared in their own state.
posted by PMcCann at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2003

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