Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, beating out the French and Italian with his authentic Mexican cuisine. The 11th season of his highly rated Public Television Series, Mexico—One Plate at a Time, airs this fall and is broadcast coast-to-coast. In 2017, Rick was again nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Culinary Host.
Rick has nine cookbooks. His second book, Mexican Kitchen, won the Julia Child IACP cookbook of the year award in 1996, and his fourth book, Mexico—One Plate at a Time won James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year award in 2001. Fiesta at Rick's spent a number of weeks on the New York Times best seller list.
Rick's side-by-side award-winning restaurants are in Chicago. The casual Frontera Grill was founded in 1987 and received the James Beard Foundation's highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007. The 4-star Topolobampo served its first meals in 1991, and the wildly popular, LEED GOLD-certified, fast-casual Xoco has been around since 2009, serving wood-oven tortas, steaming caldos, golden churros and bean-to-cup Mexican hot chocolate. Fonda Frontera, meanwhile, brings the flavors of Mexico City — and a huge selection of craft beer — to Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. In 2016, he added two more restaurants to the fold: the Baja-inspired, all wood-fired Leña Brava and the adjacent Cervaceria Cruz Blanca, a craft brewery with a Oaxacan-style taqueria.
Rick's quick service Tortas Frontera has changed the face of food service at O'Hare International Airport, while Frontera Fresco has brought Frontera flavors to several Macy's stores and Northwestern University. His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips can be found across the United States.
Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are awarded to farmers for capital improvements to their family farms, encouraging greater production and profitability. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $2 Million to family farms. In 2007, Bayless and his team launched the Frontera Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship that sends a Mexican-American Chicago Public School student to Kendall College to study culinary arts. Also in 2007, Rick was named Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his many philanthropic endeavors. In 2016, Rick was named the recipient of the prestigious Julia Child Award.
Rick has received a great number of James Beard Award nominations in many categories, and has won six: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Who's Who of American Food and Drink, plus two for his cookbooks.
The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefited Mexico and its people.
Recently, Rick finished up a sold-out five-week run on stage at Lookingglass Theatre, where he created Cascabel--offering theatergoers the story of a meal, told through flavor, memory, song, dance and amazing physical feats.