Any of the more than 108,000 followers celebrity chef Rick Bayless has on Twitter knows that the U.S.'s most-famous cook of Mexican food spent the weekend in Baja California, scoping the scene for his PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time. “Super-busy scouting n Baja morn2nite 4 season 8 of Mexico:1 Plate@aTime. Gr8 Food here. Stunned I didn't know the breadth of it!” Bayless tweeted on Feb. 11, one of more than 20 tweets he's sent out since arriving in Baja.
Bill Esparza knew about Bayless' plans. He's a professional saxophonist by day, but he has a cult following for his Street Gourmet LA, on which he documents Mexican food in Southern California and Mexico with a style unsurpassed in regional knowledge and ability to scope out treasures. He's also the man who has drawn more attention to Baja California's culinary scene outside the fish taco than any American over the past couple of years, organizing culinary tours for bloggers and even filming an episode of Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. Esparza also has no love lost for Bayless–but we'll get to that in a bit.
Curious to see what Bayless was up to, Esparza looked up the chef's Twitter feed on Saturday and found the following message:
Bayless, think-skinned? Nah . . .
“I have to say, I feel special,” Esparza told the Weekly. “Out of the more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, Rick blocks me!” Esparza had followed Bayless on Twitter for months, even up to a couple of weeks ago, and he has no clue why Bayless would boot him now. Bayless didn't block him after Esparza wrote a withering review of his Red O in early August of last year. Bayless didn't block Esparza after trashing him in the comments section of my post revealing how LA Weekly's Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold took issue with Bayless' claim Red O would introduce “real” Mexican food to Southern California.
Esparza is not taking the blocking lightly. “He's only tasted my Anaheim chile,” he said. “The habanero is coming.”
A tweet to Bayless asking for comment has not been returned, but if Bayless were willing to lambaste Gold, heaven knows what he'll have to say about Esparza.