The National Restaurant Association show is all about networking and pressing the flesh if you're a restaurant operator.
Same thing if you're a suburban mom and marketing exec turned culinary student just looking for an in.
Claudia Biespiel, who is studying to be a chef at the College of DuPage, was in the audience Saturday at the Culinary Pavilion watching chef Rick Bayless demonstrate how to make grilled steak with a chipotle tomatillo salsa. When it came time for the Q&A, Biespiel had a carpe diem moment.
"Do you accept stages at your restaurants?," she asked Bayless.
With nary a pause, Bayless answered, "Yes, we do. You can contact [chef de cuisine] Brian Enyart at the restaurant."
(The next question, from another woman: "What's a stage?" Bayless, again, on the ball: "If you have to ask that, you're probably not going to have one." Big laughs from the audience. Bayless quickly and very nicely answered her question - it's an unpaid stint in a kitchen.)
We caught up with Biespiel after the demo.
"I adore Mexican food. I really like Bayless," she said.
She said she was going to call Enyart today. You go, girl.