It's too easy to label someone a racist

There's a lot of name-calling going on out there.

Rush Limbaugh called Sonia Sotomayor a reverse racist.

Fox commentator Glenn Beck called Barack Obama a racist

Some debated on Chicago Now's "An Improvised Blog" whether John Hughes was a racist for not having more people of color in his films and for creating a stereotypical Asian character in "16 Candles."

And now on Twitter, someone raised the question if the post I wrote this week about Rick Bayless is racist. And there have been a lot of critical comments about it on the blog.

In the post I questioned why the media has celebrated him as the preeminent authority on Mexican food in the U.S. when he isn't Mexican. I made it clear that he's a great chef but he gets all the attention. I think some of that media attention should go to other Mexican or Latino chefs.

Is it racist to say the media should be more inclusive? I don't think so.

Is it racist for me to say I only went to each of his restaurants once? Is it racist for me to say that I do not want to give Bayless my money? He doesn't need it anyway.

When I go out to eat Mexican food, I prefer to support local Mexican or Latino-owned restaurants. Is that racist to want to help business owners from the Latino community when I can?
It's true you don't have to be from a country to be an expert on its
cuisines. Look at Julia Child, as some of you pointed out in your
comments

But she wasn't the only French-cooking chef celebrated in this country.

For a long-time women had to battle to gain respect as chefs. And many
people of color in this country still face that same struggle when it
comes to being recognized by the culinary elites.

My point is try naming a Mexican chef who has a regional or national reputation and who isn't Rick Bayless.

Let's give them some of the spotlight.

And let's be careful when we start throwing around that loaded word: racist.

Comments

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  • I think its less about you being a racist and more about you piggy backing and using a successful local chef to try and get more readers for your blog.

    If you really wanted to get attention for hispanic chefs, just write a blog about them. The decision to name Bayless just shows you wanted attention and using the race card was your way to do it.

    Pathetic.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Agree!

    Makes no sense to write an article almost entirely about Rick Bayless and then complain that there isn't more press about other chefs.

  • In reply to ericc:

    A. The money? Do you have no idea what amazing charities Rick Bayless has set up? The Frontera Farmer foundation is one of the strongest charities to support many hispanic/latino farmers and their communities. Therefore the money is going directly to those places YOU speak of.
    B. In a city where we champion Barack Obama for his passion and determination for vying for a position commonly taken by people very different than him, we take this leap back and say that a non-mexican can't be the spokesman for mexican food in america. Well, Chicanisima, America has obviously changed and you're a bit behind the times.
    C. I challenge you to go into Frontera, go into Topolobampo and meet the people that work there, meet the employees from Latino nations who have been so positively influenced by Bayless and his work, and compare that to any of those restaurants you listed.
    D.Rick's food is earthy and truthful, and it speaks volumes about a genius who has studied and honed his craft. I suggest next time, before you challenge some one who is making positive changes within their community - just don't.

  • In reply to Chicagogurl01:

    Right on!! It's so obvious she doesn't know enough about him - and probably hasn't tasted enough of his food. It is excellent, and the closest to authentic grandma's food (my grandma that is still alive is in Jalisco and we have EXCELLENT cuisine in Jalisco) that I've found in a Mexican restaurant in America.

  • In reply to Chicagogurl01:

    If you won't patronize Mr Bayless' restaurant because he's not Mexican... then you are a racist.

    If you patronize restaurants that serve Mexican food because the owner(s) and/or chef's are Mexican... you are a racist.

    If it bothers you that a white guy is gaining fame for cooking Mexican food... you are a racist.

    If it bothers you that someone calls you racist for doing any, or all, of the aforementioned things... you are a racist IN DENIAL!

  • In reply to ericc:

    Patricia Quintana,Maricel Presilla,Priscila Satkoff,Aaron Sanchez,Julian Medina,Zarela Martinez, Douglas Rodriguez,these are great Latin American Chefs, just to name a few off the top of my head, check them out.There was a poll not too long ago among French foodies and they acknowledged that Thomas Keller ( an american) was the best French chef at the time. The fact that Rick is white doesn't mean that he is not passionate or extremely knowledgeable about Mexican cuisine. The reason the media treats him like an authority is because he is one. Just because you are Mexican does not mean you are an expert on Mexican regional cooking. Rick has lived in Mexico, and still travels there many times a year to learn as much as he can. The single most irritating thing that I always hear about him is that his food is expensive. Well I am here to tell you that Rick uses the best ingredients he possibly can, something the mom and pop places just dont do. His food os more expensive because he uses the best, he spares no expense when it comes to quality ingredients. However cynical you are about Mr Bayless let me point out a few things; Frontera is still closed on Sundays and Mondays, he could make more money by opening those days, trust me he would be busy no matter what. He routinely takes his staff to Mexico to better educate and inspire them. You don't see a Frontera in new york or los angeles, You know he has had offers thrown at him.The other thing to think about is what if there was no Rick Bayless, who would have come along to educate people that real Mexican is nothing like Taco Bell. Who would point out that real Mexican food is as complex and wonderful as French or Italian? Rick Bayless has elevated Latino cooking in this country and I for one am inspired by him.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Imagine for a moment a Mexican chef in Mexico City. From an early age, he was obsessed with Southern (U.S.) cooking. So he writes some books and produces some television shows introducing Southern cooking to an admittedly diverse but self-identifying Mexican audience. He garners wild popularity because he's able to communicate effectively to his national audience. He speaks their language like they do, sort of looks like them, explains Southern food in relation to familiar Mexican foods, so they know what to expect. And, hey, grits, gumbo, and catfish are tasty. Soon he is known as the expert on Southern cooking in Mexico. He works hard at this for decades.

    But wait! Aren't there any "Anglos" in Mexico who cook Southern food?! Wouldn't the "national" audience prefer someone who doesn't look and talk like them to explain something to them on television? Couldn't they relate more to someone who seems "foreign"?

    You said we should be careful in throwing around the word racist. Outstanding. So is it racist for "Anglo-Americans" to prefer an "Anglo-American"

  • In reply to frogmorton:

    Very nicely put - THANKS Aaron.
    I really don't think Puente quite expected what she got, but she wrote what she wrote: a narrow, poorly thought out person gripe she should have kept to herself, or worked harder to craft into something more cogent. She deserves the royal kicking she's getting from all corners.
    Her further responses in an attempt to deflect the point and distract are further proof she fouled. To late to wriggle out now, TP.

  • In reply to JohnSandford:

    personal gripe, that is.

  • In reply to JohnSandford:

    TITLE of this page:
    " It's too easy to label someone a racist"
    Well TP, it EASY to make do that when you MAKE it so easy. It was a racist comment - whether you meant it or not. You should repair the damage and apologize. Then, if you want to pursue your point, which I believe is finding other talented chefs - great - that is positive and good for everyone. No one supports the Latino community and it arts and culture and people and food and music and history than Rick Bayless. And he could lead you on a fine tour through Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, etc. . . .AND Chicago - to show you tastes and sights and sounds you've never heard or imagined before. AND you would love it.
    EVERYTHING Bayless does, you will note - is POSITIVE. Give it a try. Go ahead, begin now, on a positive note: apologize - to all of us.

  • In reply to ericc:

    That is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard Ms. Puente.

    How is Bayless racist? Because he worked hard and earned an extremely successful career. Turned millions onto Mexican cooking?

    You my friend, need to realize that you must earn credit. Not be given it because your heritage. My parents were immigrants and they WOULD BE ASHAMED to accuse someone of being racist because they weren't handed credit on a silver platter.
    I hope I never read or see your writing again.

  • In reply to ericc:

    "When I go out to eat Mexican food, I prefer to support local Mexican or Latino-owned restaurants. Is that racist to want to help business owners from the Latino community when I can?"

    Dunno. Would someone be considered racist if they changed that to the following...

    "When I go out to eat... I prefer to support local white-owned restaurants. Is that racist to want to help business owners from the white community when I can?"

    I don't think you were being racist. But then again, if i change your statement to the above, many people would find it a racist comment.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Bravo, Aaron. Perfect way to flip the tables.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Some of you are clearly missing Teresa's point. She's not tearing Bayless down. If you read her previous post, you'd know that. Her question is whether the media has elevated Bayless at the expense of other equally-qualified but less-well known Mexican cuisine chefs.

    I would love to see a follow up in which some of her suggestions and those of others are put together for a Best of Chicago's Mexican Cuisine list.

    I'm sure there would be at least a dozen names on that list.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    You are correct: Her question IS "whether the media has elevated Bayless at the expense of other equally-qualified but less-well known Mexican cuisine chefs."

    The answer, inconveniently for Teresa, is: "No."

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    I get your basic point that Mexican-American chefs are under represented in the TV Chef set. Agreed. And it's good that you attempt to raise the point. I don't think you are a racist, but I do think that people would react completely differently if an Italian said, "something just bugged me that a black guy was gaining so much fame for his Italian cuisine."

    If the Italian worked in any prominent media related role they would be issuing a public apology, their career would be damaged. Steve Lyon tried to make a joke during the MLB All-Star Game a few years ago, which was construed as anti-Hispanic. And it was a lame attempt at humor. He got fired.

    How is the quote above different than your previous blog entry of, "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine."

    My point is not for you to be more politically correct, but rather for people to lighten up all around. If a white guy makes a similar comment he shouldn't be pounced on.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    http://www.chefdouglasrodriguez.com/flash/index.htm

  • In reply to tzachi:

    Something just "bugged me" that a Latino guy was named Douglas... having a non-Latino name does not make Chef Rodriguez less credible in his expertise, so why does the fact that Chef Bayless is non-Latino make him less credible in his expertise?

    I'm a Hispanic with little cooking skills, and when I do cook it's usually Asian and Indian meals, does me preparing curry make me a racist? As though I'm not allowed to make stir-fry noodles because I'm dishonoring a race that is not my own.

    Also, does that mean I'm somehow an expert at Mexican cuisine by default because of the color of my brown skin? Is it something in my skin, or my blood, my black hair and all my outward appearance that would somehow make my food taste superior or be legitimate over that prepared by a white successful male? Because as far as I can tell the color of your skin and who you are do not determine what your passions and expertise can AND should be.

    I look forward to watching Bayless on television every week because I admire him as someone with a passion, fascination and great respect for a culture that is free for ALL to appreciate and enjoy. No culture is exclusive to one group of people. The world would be a boring place if we were all bigots such as Puente, believing only certain people can represent their culture, and that it is only accessible to people of that origin.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    Yes, you are a racist, but so is Obama.

    You are free to give any restaurant your business. But, your opinion that a Mexican HAS to be celebrated as an authority on Mexican food is ridiculous. Without a Mexican authority...we are somehow degrading everything Mexican is crazy.

    You should be happy that Mexican food is celebrated and enjoyed...not obsessing over who get attention for it. To insist a Mexican is included as someone who is respected as an authority is merely affirmative action. Include him because you have to...not because it is earned is beyond common sense.

    You are wrong. Affirmative action is wrong- it punishes qualified people at the expense of someone else merely because of his race. You want to punish a respected chef, just to promote someone of another race- sorry that is the definition of racism.

    Obama- without any facts at all, rushes to blame a white police officer and call his actions stupid in front of the whole nation just because a black man is arrested. That is racism. He assumed way too much, and set back race relations decades. He was wrong to jump the gun and come to the defense of an arrested man, before even listening to the white officers story. He shower racism against the white cop...and assumed the cop acted out of racism as well.

    You are racist. You favor Mexican chefs over white chefs. It bothers you that a white chef has fame for Mexican dishes.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    i agree that it says something deeply troubling about our society that we are willing to elevate a white man to a position of authority on a topic that there are many other people that have direct experience with that topic who would be happy to speak about it. bayless' ubiquity wouldn't be troubling at all if there were latina/o voices prominently representing mexican cuisine too. the fact is that there aren't, and the darling status of bayless reflects white north american attitudes about mexico, that it's a cool place to go vacation and they have some awesome food. oh wait, there are people there too? no disrespect to bayless or his work, this is about the media and a question of why a white guy is more acceptable than a latina/o

  • In reply to frankalready:

    um, mexico is in north america.

  • In reply to maonk:

    LOL! Thanks for pointing that out maonk. Reading through a lot of these comments I'm left more distraught than I expected. I have an immense amount of respect for Rick Bayless and it is precisely because of the effort he puts into educating others about Mexican food and agriculture that I have not found elsewhere. Hopefully this awakens the author to learn more about the people she sets out to criticize before doing so. For starters, she should pick up one of his cookbooks, and then compare that to other Mexican cookbooks out there - none come close. Secondly, she should talk to the employees at Topolo - Bayless doesn't just see value in lecturing in the kitchen about Mexican cuisine, he sees value in SENDING his staff on annual trips to Mexico to learn more about it. At the end of the day, who cares if he's white? I don't. I care about the fact that his restaurant is the only one I've found that fills that spot for authentic and comforting Mexican cuisine. Additionally, knowing about his charities and focus on sustainable farming practices deems him a level of respect that she sadly rebukes based on the color of his skin.

  • In reply to maonk:

    "Is it racist for me to say I only went to each of his restaurants once? Is it racist for me to say that I do not want to give Bayless my money?"

    why? because he is a white male? IF the answere is yes then you are a racist.

    Why are you getting the label of a racist? could be because you are a racist disgusting pig.

  • In reply to waggy:

    Pig is mean and disparages your post. Racist is mean and unfortunately totally describes the author.

  • In reply to waggy:

    Well, a couple weeks ago you were calling every senator who didn't vote for Sotomayor a racist for doing so. So yes, I guess it is pretty easy to do. Especially for you.

  • In reply to waggy:

    My favorite snide remark in this post was "He doesn't need it anyway." Puente makes assumptions based on generalizations.

    Assuming that Bayless has gained financial and celebrity success is due to white male patriarchy, that of privilege rather than a man who has worked hard at learning, honing his craft, his passion, all the while giving back through charity to the culture and community he so admires. I guess those organizations support themselves.

  • In reply to frankalready:

    All that Ms. Puente said was that it bugged her that someone who is not Mexican was considered the leading chef of Mexican cuisine. And people went cuckoo.
    Folks, relax. Get some bran. Ex-lax can help too.
    I met Bayless back in 1994. He is a businessman who found a niche in Mexican food. He wrote books, appeared on TV, launched his condiment brand. Nobody disputes his talents and contributions. Puente says that he "is a great chef." Read the post carefully before you go "loco" or loca."
    Bravo created a balanced group of participants for the Top Chef Masters program. It has the ingredients to provoke viewers and create drama. Bayless is the calm, soft-spoken, nice-looking middle-aged white American guy whose specialty is foreign cuisine. Puente asks why not other native chefs are also followed by the media. Bayless has worked for years to earn that spot. Let's encourage other Mexican chefs to keep working harder and let's also hope the media pays attention to them.
    The name calling is not necessary. Folks, as I said before, get some bran. Maybe adding it to a tortilla soup or your guacamole may relax you and lighten you up.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    oh, i get it! you want people to stop being constipated.

    so clever.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine."
    This comment is racist! Period!!! What is really a shame is that you don't even recognize it. I am a Latina woman and I have to tell you that with all your education and talent you choose to continue the vicious cycle of hatred. You have the power to reach a lot of young Hispanic people and you choose to teach them the same hatred that many of our ancestors suffered. Alicia Martinez - Chicago

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    I never comment, but had to speak up. Thank you, Alicia, for your simple, direct, honest, well-written comment. Theresa, own up to your error, and apologize. Your statements and the tone of your article are racist. Please do us all a favor and quit arguing that you did nothing to offend anyone. Read these comments---people are OFFENDED! If you wish to elevate Hispanic chefs, then please do so. No one would be more pleased than Rick Bayless to have the cuisine of Mexico elevated further by anyone talented enough to capture the imagination of the American public. Please take my suggestion, and don't make unfavorable comments about an immensely well-repected chef with a stellar reputation for stewarship, as well as culinary prowess, effectively throwing him under the bus--just to try make your point. Thank you. Chef Sam Long--Memphis

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    One form of racism: putting a person's ethnic background before their abilities. Saying that it bugs you that the man held in the city's estimation as Chicago's leading expert on Mexican cuisine is too pale for your taste is racist.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    First, people really need to understand the 'textbook' definition of racism. The word gets tossed around as an epithet without most people realizing what it really means.

    Racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior to another. A lot of PC groups try to morph the definition to include things which are merely offensive.

    We all have a right to be free from racial discrimination, but there is no corresponding right to forever be free from being offended by something we see or hear.

    When Sotomayor (repeatedly) that a 'wise Latina woman' would render a better verdict than a white male, that was an example of racism - the belief that one race is superior to another.

    Whether or not John Hughes' portrayal of an Asian is racist depends on whether Hughes believed the Asian race was inferior. If he was simply poking fun at a stereotype, it may have been offensive, but it was not racist.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    And exactly how do you want to enforce this . . . if they are unrecognized, it seems like part of it is your fault. Some of the discrepancy is that Rick is smart, photogenic, well spoken and in an economic situation to put himself ahead of many of his competitors. Some people might appreciate the fact that he's there - otherwise half the country would still think taco bell the top of mexican cuisine. Maybe you should appreciate the fact that Rick cares. I seriously cannot believe that you are taking the time to bitch about this without offering any constructive solution to the problem that you perceive. Oh well, I can't believe I'm wasting my time responding to a position that is not racist, but merely stupid . . . .

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    As another reader mentioned, the author's choice of response bothers me and smells of entitlement:

    "For all of you calling me out for this post, I ask you to pay attention."
    "That's why I asked you to send me recommendations of other Mexican and Latino chefs. So far nobody has."

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    Ms. Puentes,
    I would think that you as a Latina woman would celebrate someone like Mr. Bayless who has elevated both Mexican food and Mexican culture to a level not seen in most of this country before. He puts his passion into showing his customers that quality Mexican food has nothing to do with nacho cheese, and he puts his money into the development and continuing education of so many Mexican citizens. This should be celebrated.

    Further, I would challenge you to go to your favorite eateries and confirm that the chefs cooking there are all Mexican because, well, would an El Salvadoran or Honduran cook be any more Mexican than Mr Bayless? I would venture a guess that your preferred restaurants are employing non-Mexican Latinos, and they are not getting near the experience or training that Mr. Bayless is providing in his establishments.

    You can spin this however you'd like...the fact remains that your comment is, indeed, divisive and therefore considerably racist.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    boh-ho, you've got it right! Why would i want to read a blog in the first place that treats the reader as if they are a child being scolded!
    This takes me back to a few years ago when Leah Eskin wrote an article in the tribune magazine about how upset she was there were no longer peanuts on airplanes. She totally disregarded and disrespected a community of people with peanut allergies, like myself and also received much backlash from Chicago readers. As far as i investigated she issued no formal apology.
    I suggest the Chicago Tribune and its ventures begin to discuss the idea of "you write it, you take responsibility" and in the end, if you piss off more people than you can handle, you write them an apology (in this case, perhaps even just to Mr. Bayless). Ms. Puentes, I fear if you don't, you've done a fine job solidifying yourself as "that writer who dissed Rick Bayless for being white". Bravo, well done.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    Why is Jane Goodall the expert on Gorillas if she isn't even a gorilla?

  • In reply to Chicagogurl01:

    So perfect, I love your response!

  • In reply to Chicagogurl01:

    It's because the media is racist toward gorillas and they've not been given a fair chance to represent themselves.

    Jane Goodall has stolen the spotlight.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    Do you even have to ask the question? Of course it is racist.

    Think of it this way: a guy grows up in Mexico, eventually moving to the US. He develops a love of French cuisine, traveling to France frequently, studying French culture, food and ingredients. He brings his knowledge back to the US, opening several painstakingly authentic French restaurants and earning acclaim for the quality and authenticity of his food.

    Now I come along and write a blog post titled, "Why is this mexican guy the expert on French cuisine?" and in it I gripe that white French chefs should be getting more attention. You wouldn't find that offensive?

    Here's a question I would love to see you answer: why does his race matter at all in this discussion? It is incredibly offensive to think that someone can go out, work really hard and passionately and NOT be considered an expert just because of their skin color or ethnicity. Yes we know the latino contribution to Chicago's food culture and yes I think that latino chefs are underrated. But that isn't what we are talking about. We are talking about whether Rick Bayless deserves to be considered an expert of Mexican cuisine. Putting our blindfolds on, tasting his food, listening to him speak and soaking up his considerable knowledge of Mexican food, I think that most would agree that Bayless at least deserves consideration as an expert.

    Sadly, this type of commentary fuels charges of "reverse racism" and greatly distracts from real instances of "regular" racism and the struggles of latinos in this country. Piece of advice: don't drag yourself and your community down with such trivial and insulting distractions.

  • In reply to Xochitl:

    Listen, the article was racist because YOU brought race into it. You continue to show your ignorance by not admitting the error in your ways. And you teach this stuff??? Shudder

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    Wait, she's a teacher? So disappointing...

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    I give Bayless 4 points. Point well taken, TP. And all of you, with this talk of racism, have made me lose my appetite.

  • In reply to gourmand:

    I'm keeping score for "gourmand":
    Bayless: 4 points
    Puente: 1 point

    Puente loses on any level. JUST LOOK at all the responses here! She got roasted . . . and in Bayless's world, isn't that appropriate?

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    Rick is the one who went out to find and bring back fine Mexican food to the American public. He just isn't a chef. He is teaching the American public about Mexican food and culture. Rick is teaching folks that Mexican cuisine is more than Pepe's and Taco Bell.

    Funny how you don't mention all these great Mexican cooks that deserve praise. They may be great chefs, but what have they done to teach and inform the general public about their craft? Rick made the effort to reach out and present fine Mexican food with his restuarants, books, and televison shows.

    You don't want to give a man credit for working hard and presenting his passion for Mexican food because he is white. Thats is racist.

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    Mija, give it a rest, you were wrong and you came off as a racist. Say you're sorry and move on. Hopefully you've learned your lesson. It's quite obvious Mr. Bayless will never call you out because he is a gentleman, even your readers are wondering what the hell you were thinking...

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    I think this blog and this topic brings the opportunity for people to discuss issues that are so close to their hearts--race, for example. It is great to see the real face of Americans insulting, name-calling, showing their anger and disappointment. Allowing themselves to be able to say what they think instead of showing that eternal happy face and attitude. I think that a medium that allows people to say what they think when they can't be seen is precious because it allows them to show their real face. Why aren't you like this when you are in person and discuss vehemently these issues? Life is not pretty all the time and it would be good to show it publicly instead of just saying everyday that everything is great. I can see that it's not "great" and these conversations prove it. A suggestion: Show some "cojones" in your everyday life, and don't ask for tacos with lettuce (unless you get them at Taco Bell.)

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Yatuve wins the award for Most Condescending Post! Congrats, Yatuve! All hail Yatuve!

  • In reply to JohnSandford:

    Thank you!

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Yatuve, you're more than a little like the pot calling the kettle black. After all, you are saying that real Americans are insulting, name-calling, and angry.

    For the most part, actually a much greater part, all these posts that "call" Ms. Puentes racist are rational arguments and supported by reasonable and rational examples.

    It's just your tough luck that you can't respond in kind.

  • In reply to RobertGarza:

    I am sorry. Everything is great, awesome, wonderful... fantastic!

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Oh, I recognize your technique. It's called a martyr complex.

    You dish on people who are offering their opinions. Most, though admittedly not all, of those opinions are reasoned and rational, perhaps not stated as well as they could be but still rational, and you diss them as name-calling, insulting, and angry commenters who are hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. When someone calls on it you retreat into the martyr complex.

    Sheeesh.

  • In reply to RobertGarza:

    Opinions are fine. I am all for it. I am talking about people who use insults. I have read a lot of them here. I was also raising the point that in person, a lot of people are usually so nice and smiling and can't politely show their disagreement. We don't need to be insulting in order to disagree. No martyr here. Just someone who wants to discuss, agree or disagree without insults.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    You are correct, there are a few posts that are insulting... from both sides of the argument. And, you are correct that the internet's anonymity gives them the ability to be that way.

    I responded to your first post because a goodly number of comments are, in fact, rational and well-stated. In my opinion, the post to which I responded kinda threw a blanket over everyone who was posting a comment.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Ay Dios mio, Teresa you created quite the controversy! With Rick Bayless bringing Mexican food and Mexican culture to the mainstream, he has helped our causa! I have lots of close brothers and sisters that are White that have a deep passion for the Spanish language and Mexican culture. We should celebrate how the richness of our culture can be respected and admired by someone mainstream that also causes others to learn more about us as a people rather than how the media stereotypes us. Your blog was very narrow. You are free to express your opinion and you have that right, but expect and accept what you get in return!

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    This blog should be called "pendejisima"! Just look at all the Mexicans responding refuting Puente's assertions. Foodies, be they, white, black, brown, yellow understand the importance of someone,anyone, elevating Mexican Cuisine to World Class cuisine at the forefront for foodie and mainstream consciousness.

    "My point is try naming a Mexican chef who has a regional or national reputation and who isn't Rick Bayless." How about Aaron Sanchez. Don't know who he is? Go back to my first sentence.

    Yes, I'm mexican. Yes, your ignorant when it comes to contemporary food culture. Yes, you messed up big time when instead of saying you support local Mexican establishment because they produce an artisinal product not found any where else and instead you made your judgement based on race.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Teresa, Carlos' Restaurant up on the North Shore (Highland Park) has been around for nearly 30 years. The owner, Carlos Nieto, is a Mexican immigrant as is the head chef Ramiro Velasquez, who has been at the helm for a decade. Carlos' has long been recognized as one of Chicago's best, Chef Ramiro has led the restaurant to some of it's highest accolades, including 4 stars from the Trib's Phil Vettel and Zagat's #1 Chicago restaurant. Velasquez has authored cookbooks, won awards and been on TV. Alas, Carlos' is a French restaurant.

    Does it bug you that a couple Mexican guys have gained fame for their French cuisine?

    I wonder what your reaction would be if a journalist of European descent stated that he would not patronize Carlos' because the chef is Mexican, and that he would rather spend his money at a white owned restaurant with a white chef.

  • In reply to kettu:

    !!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to RobertGarza:

    Except that you are preferring a race and not a cuisine. You espouse ethos over product not only in the original posting but in your defense of that post. If Mr. Bayless was African-American would that be more acceptable to you? If the food is good and uses the ingredients, flavors, and techniques of a cuisine, why does the skin color of the chef matter? Most people are careful with their terms, and the opinions you present here are "racist."

    Mr. Vettel's rebuttal is also useful here; Mr. Bayless deserves all the accolades he gets. Outstanding performances, whether culinary or otherwise, should be lauded.

    I also think it's possible for a person of one ethnicity to assist others of the same ethnicity both personally and professionally without denigrating others. While you and I might agree that mass media in this country is still "white-owned," in fact you have a megaphone to champion efforts that rival what Mr. Bayless has been able to achieve.

    I guess I find the tenacity of your defense the saddest part of the situation. You have compounded the first mistake into an issue rather than simply letting the matter pass or more proactively apologizing to Mr. Bayless and focusing upon one of the chefs you mentioned and making useful comparisons (or contrasts).

    You have generated a controversy. A stubborn defense only makes the situation less prescient and more of the same ilk as celebutants who shock the world just for the attention it brings. Which will it be here?

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    We need more illegal aliens selling dogmeat burritos to drunken white 20 somethings!! Lord knows we don't have enough of those authentic 'Mexican' establishments in this city.

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    This is racist: "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine."

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    This article made me sign up for a blog for the very first time...You should be ashamed of yourself for your ridiculous article. His respect for the CULTURE and passion for the food makes me feel honored. You have to remember that what he did was create a brand new market that never existed before -- high end Mexican cuisine. I applause him for being a well spoken capitalist, it's not his fault that nobody else decided to venture on a risk. Believe me and everybody else, regardless of what you meant or your defensiveness, your article sounds racist. You should apologize immediately before loosing any more readers.

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    So that is great! It made you sign up for a blog for the very first time! That's the point; to provoke discussion. I think Puente is gaining readers!

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Haha, no. Not all publicity, is good publicity.

  • In reply to chicagokid03:

    The good thing is that this topic is provoking discussion.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    More like backlash, resentment, and bitterness. Apologies immediately, if Johnny Macchione could do it, so can you Ms. Puente.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    i think that you should just get over it. i think that if you know that your not racist then thats all the matters. I however believe that you are not racist but that comment could have been taken as a racial comment

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    When you label judge or categorize a person by external criteria only you are being --ist, whether it is age-ist, sex-ist,or racist.
    You judged Bayliss based on his external criteria, not his cooking ability. That is no different from judging Obama based on his skin color rather than his ability as a community organizer.
    In those terms, yes, your post was racist. He deserves an apology.

    The Chicagonow blogs have had a tepid reaction. This smacks of a trumped up controversy in order to generate web traffic.

  • In reply to PEllen:

    "The Chicagonow blogs have had a tepid reaction. This smacks of a trumped up controversy in order to generate web traffic."

    Uh - that really makes so much sense, PEllen.
    (Grimacing)
    Here I am, wasting time and passion on this, and it's only helping HER. Her further responses fan the flames and bring in more angry people. THANKS for pointing this out.

  • In reply to PEllen:

    Another point: if there were a hispanic chef cooking at the same level I think they would be as succesful. The problem is there isn't in Chicago. They make the same cheap, bastardized mex-american crap everyone else does.

  • In reply to PEllen:

    Okay, maybe racists was a little harsh. But instead of crapping on Bayless, who's food is as good(almost) as my mami makes, you should put out some names of Latino chefs that are just as good. If you had said Bayless' food is not real Mexican and so he shouldn't get so much attention it's one thing. But to say he shouldn't get the attention simply becasue he's white is a stupid argument.

  • In reply to PEllen:

    My point again: it's a huge accomplishment to have a Mexican-cuisine chef at the forefront of the nation's consciousness. For Mexican food to be considered on par with European cuisine is not something that can be taken for granted. Remove Rick Bayless from the equation and all you're talking about is taquerias and Don Pablo's.
    So my question for you is, would you prefer that scenario to a non-Latino paving the way for Mexican food to be taken seriously?

  • In reply to PEllen:

    I think a more important topic to bring up is the large percentage of restaurant staff comprised by Latinos. Don't bring Rick down because he is caucasian. Promote him for being a magnificent artist of the foods you enjoy. Your words are the antithesis of the US philosophy of achieve your dream by hard work.

    Also, if you are such a promoter of Latino or Mexican cuisine, why not enjoy the spotlight that Rick brings so very well.

    Your post saddens me very much.

  • In reply to PEllen:

    Can we call for her resignation?

    Happens all the time when the shoe is on the other foot. Why is she not being called on the carpet?

    Resign Puente. You have offended whites, mexicans, and chefs of every color with your statements. Puerto ricans can't be authorities of Mexican food, you won't eat at a black owner Mexican restaurant...you only want to support Mexican businesses, and to have a Mexican chef respected above all others. You ARE racist. Lets put someone more qualified in your position...anyone of any race.

    Resign now.

  • In reply to sourpatch:

    Agree. And apologize.

  • In reply to Yatuve:

    Chicano? What year is this? No manches! Puro Mexicano ya basta con las babosadas de los 70s.

  • In reply to DonTortas:

    Hehe, she might as well be running around with an Aztl

  • In reply to DonTortas:

    "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences." Audre Lorde

  • In reply to DonTortas:

    Maonk is so right. Mexico is in NORTH AMERICA. Need I say, Indians and Mexicans were in North America long before the Europeans dropped anchor! How dare they call US "illegal aliens!" Enough said!

  • In reply to DonTortas:

    nadiewise - r u another Aztlan holdout? Give me a break with the "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us" BS. Sure our community faces a lot of issues. And yes, we're underrepresented in the media. But we're not in Ozzy & Harriet any longer either. To whine about crap that is so passe is stupid. Our gente is getting more representation by the day. I'll take Rick Bayless over Lou Dobbs anyday. Your type of commentary and Teresa's BS only reinforces the xenophone gabachos who watch Lou Dobbs religously. Multi-Culti is the new Era - are you in or are you out. If your out then how different are you from the xenophobes? As a 100% Mexicano foodie how's lived overseas, traveled a bit and gone back to the old country frequently I accept this new pluralism. Do you?

  • In reply to Sedwards:

    Teresa - If you didn't want to be labeled as a racist, maybe you should've thought your original article through. YOU said "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine." Now you're whining about people calling you racist? I absolutely agree that more press should be given to other chefs, but you did a terrible job conveying that point objectively... You wrote the article, now put on your big-girl pants, and deal with the fallout.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    also, good work on the blog! i'm glad someone is raising these questions.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    You're not racist. You're lazy and stupid.

  • In reply to JenniferFernicola:

    You're not racist, you're lazy and stupid.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Jennifer, I did read the first post, and I was reacting to both, especially this: "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine."

    That statement (grammatically) is directed at Rick Bayless, not at "the media." Oh, sure, it isn't all Rick's fault

  • In reply to ericc:

    You called that one!

  • In reply to ericc:

    Agreed, this was a cheap tactic to discredit a chef who has invested a life into exploring and educating others about authentic Mexican cuisine. I grew up in Chicago and when I go back I always hit up pilsen for amazing Mexican streetfood (east coast and LA don't come close!) however when I want that warm and yummy authentic dinner with reduced spicy sauces that tingles that spot that reminds me of my grandma's dinners, I hit up Topolo. We really need more restaurants that don't just do greasy tacos and tortas and slap 'authentic' in the title - we need more Topolo's out there, that's what she should write about.

  • In reply to ericc:

    Is it racist to not patronize a restaurant because you do not like the heritage of the chef? YES! IT IS!

  • In reply to ericc:

    everyone has feelings of racism one time or another, anyone who says otherwise is either living in a protected environment or lying.

  • In reply to ericc:

    "Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine."
    That is a racist statement.

    "I prefer to support local Mexican or Latino-owned restaurants."
    That is another racist statement.

    Why can't you go to a restaurant because you like the food? Why does everything come down to race with you? Do you run a background check to verify the race of a restaurant's ownership before you go there?

    It's too bad you don't judge people by the content of their character. Instead you judge people by the color of their skin. White=bad, Latino=good. That is racist.

  • In reply to juano:

    "I like my darker skin because it doesn't get burnt easily when I go to the beach."
    That's another racist statement.
    I think I won't say anything anymore because I may offend people sensibilities.

  • In reply to juano:

    Face it folks, the MSM (Chicago Tribune included) are all left-wing, so of course they're going to employ an open-borders race hustler like Puente, or Antonio Olivio, who writes an endless amount of immigrant sob stories. Too bad, I thought we transcended race with his Holiness Obama. Welcome to the New America, folks, hope you enjoy it.

  • In reply to juano:

    There's nothing wrong with giving Latino/a chefs more exposure, but if that's what you want to do than just do it and stop complaining about white people cooking Mexican food. You'll probably find that most of the chefs in the Chicago area worthy of greater exposure have studied or worked under Rick Bayless, anyway.

    To my mind, refusing to return to his restaurants, despite the admittedly great food, simply because he's white, is indeed racist. Would you have dreamed of posting the same thing if he were African-American?

  • I worked for the "Too Hot Tamales." Let me ask you: is it a racist handle? Maybe. Even more, it's catchy. The Food Network loved it. Mary Sue & Susan loved it. The intent was to have fun. You could literally taste it.

    Rush and Glen are dangerous because they don't stir conversation, they rile hatred. Unlike you, Chicanisima, who has the right dash of insight.

  • Did you say he is not worthy of all the fame he's received solely because of his race? Yes, you did. That makes your comments racists. The fact that you acknowledge that he is an excellent chef makes your comments worse, not better. If you wanted to say he was not an excellent cook, you could make legitimate arguments, but to say he is a great cook, but that he shouldn't be getting the attention he does because he is white (or not Mexican) is a racist statement. You want other chefs to be celebrated, please do your best to build them up, but don't tear down Chef Bayless because he's not your idea of a model chef of Mexican cuisine.

  • I understand. I am talking about being called "a disgusting pig," "lazy and stupid"... That attacks the person, not the content of what the person said.

  • Actually, Yatuve is correct. Name calling, such as "disgusting pig" and "lazy and stupid" are personal attacks and do not address the content of subject.

    I pointed out, correctly I believe, that most of those posting here have used valid, rational arguments to support their opinion that Ms. Puentes' comment(s) were indeed racist.

    In my opinion, in the first post that I responded to, Yatuve kinda painted everyone with the same brush. Unfair at best.

    But, to the effect that some here do in fact use name-calling and personal attacks to degrade the content of other's opinions, Yatuve is correct.

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