(being a new review of Windy City Playhouse’s A Recipe for Disaster with its new star, Rick Bayless)
I went into this production of A Recipe for Disaster unsure of what to expect. Working in the food
industry, I am lucky enough to work with several chefs during my day-to-day duties at work, so I was
excited to see what exactly was going to happen. Plus, the added bonus of seeing Rick Bayless live in
action, whether acting or in the kitchen, was not something I could pass up.
The production begins at the bar, while the crowd awaits the opening of “influencer night” at the
Contumacious Pig. The actors walk out and you are part of the production as the ingredients for the
Recipe for Disaster begin to take shape. I do not want to give away too much or too little, but I will say
that everything here is a very plausible thing that could happen, but I’ve never heard of them all occurring
on the same evening.
Depending on where you are seated during the performance, you will get to interact with different
characters and from what I could tell, have a completely different experience. I was lucky enough to be
seated pretty much in the middle, able to catch a bit of all the scenes happening around us and watch
the hilarity unfold.
The casting is perfection. I did not know that Rick Bayless created this production in conjunction with
Windy City Playhouse until writing my review, but thinking about it afterward, it makes sense. His
portrayal of Jude seems to come from real-life experience and his culinary expertise.
Daniel Trinidad as Felix gave the perfect mix of hectic server energy, physical comedy, and athleticism.
Scott Duff as Clyde, the health inspector, brought physical comedy, true anxiety, and laughter to the
show. The influencers, Kiki, played by Darian Tene, and Loreen, played by Desiree Staples, were spot on.
From their constant discussion of being Vegan to the plus one being there for the free stuff, they
walked the walk and talked the talk, while wearing fabulous dresses.
Amy Rubenstein as Shelly, the restaurant manager, doesn’t just run the Contumacious Pig; she runs the
show, moving the story, and the courses, along. Her reactions to the situations that arise are
understated but extremely accurate. Her being slightly at odds with Iggy, played by Sam Linda, adds an
interesting subtle underlying tension to the whole show. Iggy is the true believer in the show, believing
in Jude and believing in the restaurant. Even if he does side with Boris, played by Marcus Jackson, who
has been sabotaging the entire evening from before the audience even arrived!
There is so much more I want to say but I fear I will give away some of the magical moments of this truly
wonderful, immersive play. I cannot recommend it enough. I may go back to see if again and see if I get
seated in a different area to see what that experience is like.