Zestful acting, tasty cuisine make farcical play 'Recipe for Disaster' a delectable treat

  • Frazzled fill-in chef Jude (Ben Page), left, tries to salvage a disastrous dinner service with help from friend and colleague Iggy (Alex Morales), right, and waiter Boris (Ian Maryfield) in Windy City Playhouse's immersive dining farce "A Recipe for Disaster."

    Frazzled fill-in chef Jude (Ben Page), left, tries to salvage a disastrous dinner service with help from friend and colleague Iggy (Alex Morales), right, and waiter Boris (Ian Maryfield) in Windy City Playhouse's immersive dining farce "A Recipe for Disaster." Courtesy of Kyle Flubacker

 
 
Updated 10/19/2021 5:34 PM

"A Recipe for Disaster" -- ★ ★ ★ ★

Master chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless knows something about successful recipes. So do the folks at Windy City Playhouse, whose 23 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 11 wins in 6 years suggest a theater company that comprehends the recipe for success.

 
General manager Shelley (Emma Jo Boyden), left, welcomes internet influencer Kiki (Carley Cornelius), center, and her friend Loreen (Kierra Bunch) in "A Recipe for Disaster," Windy City Playhouse's restaurant-inspired farce co-written by master chef Rick Bayless.
General manager Shelley (Emma Jo Boyden), left, welcomes internet influencer Kiki (Carley Cornelius), center, and her friend Loreen (Kierra Bunch) in "A Recipe for Disaster," Windy City Playhouse's restaurant-inspired farce co-written by master chef Rick Bayless. - Courtesy of Kyle Flubacker

Together, the connoisseurs created "A Recipe for Disaster," an evening of merry theatrical mayhem (plus dinner) taking place downstairs at Petterino's restaurant in Chicago.

Co-written by Bayless, Windy City Playhouse artistic director Amy Rubenstein and associate artistic director Carl Menninger, "A Recipe for Disaster" combines a delicious farce -- directed by David H. Bell -- with a droll dinner of three mini-courses devised by the James Beard Award-winner.

Daniel Trinidad plays a helpful waiter in "A Recipe for Disaster," a dinner theater farce from Windy City Playhouse staged at Petterino's restaurant.
Daniel Trinidad plays a helpful waiter in "A Recipe for Disaster," a dinner theater farce from Windy City Playhouse staged at Petterino's restaurant. - Courtesy of Kyle Flubacker
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The playwrights have cooked up a production that celebrates both the art of comedy and the culinary arts. The action unfolds at the fictional Contumacious Pig, whose open kitchen -- allowing audiences to observe some food prep in real-time -- comes courtesy of set designer William Boles. The Contumacious (which means stubbornly disobedient) Pig, a hot Chicago restaurant known for its pork dishes, is hosting a tasting for social media "influencers" who've replaced critics, all of whom have been canned.

Ryan Reilly plays a hapless health inspector in the premiere of Windy City Playhouse's immersive dinner-theater farce "A Recipe for Disaster," running through Dec. 31 at Petterino's in Chicago.
Ryan Reilly plays a hapless health inspector in the premiere of Windy City Playhouse's immersive dinner-theater farce "A Recipe for Disaster," running through Dec. 31 at Petterino's in Chicago. - Courtesy of Kyle Flubacker

The well-laid plans of general manager Shelley (Emma Jo Boyden) unravel when the head chef calls in sick leaving Jude (Ben Page), the Pig's talented but insecure second-in-command, in charge. He's assisted by fellow chef Iggy (Alex Morales), who spends most of his time reassuring Jude and the nimble waiter Felix (Daniel Trinidad), who's tasked with hiding the pig that will serve as the evening's entree.

Doing his best to disrupt the evening is substitute server Boris (Ian Maryfield), a saboteur from a rival restaurant. Also adding to the chaos is Clyde (Ryan Reilly), who turns up for a surprise health inspection. Meanwhile, food blogger Kiki (Carley Cornelius) advises diners to "look cute" as she livestreams the pasta while her pal Loreen (Kierra Bunch) makes off with the cutlery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Chef Rick Bayless co-created and co-wrote "A Recipe for Disaster."
Chef Rick Bayless co-created and co-wrote "A Recipe for Disaster." - Courtesy of Galdones Photography

Misunderstandings, mistaken identities and mishaps propel the action, which is punctuated by descriptions and samplings of Bayless' four-star cuisine.

If this were merely farce, Bell's zestfully acted, briskly paced production would be enough. But "Recipe for Disaster" is more than that. Evidence comes courtesy of Page's Jude, who insists "everything on the plate has to resonate like orchestral music," confirming the chef as artist, one who belongs in the pantheon of musicians and dancers, painters and poets -- and theatermakers.

• • •

Location: A Windy City Playhouse production staged at Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn St., Chicago (enter on Randolph Street), (773) 891-8985, windycityplayhouse.com

Showtimes: 1:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 31

Running time: About 90 minutes, no intermission

Tickets: $100-$130

Parking: Nearby garages, limited street parking

COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours of the performance's start. Masks required when not eating or drinking.

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