Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. His highly rated public television series, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, is broadcast coast to coast and his nine cookbooks have earned multiple high-profile accolades.
Located in Chicago, Rick’s Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have each received the “Outstanding Restaurant of the Year” designation from the James Beard Foundation — an unprecedented feat for side-by-side restaurants. His wildly popular fast-casual Xoco debuted in 2009 and Tortas Frontera at Chicago’s O’Hare airport has changed the face of airport dining. In 2016, he opened Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs. In 2018, Rick expanded his Clark Street restaurants by opening Bar Sótano, a Oaxacan-inspired mezcal bar with modern Mexican bar food. Tortazo, Rick’s new fast-casual concept, debuted in 2020 in Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower, with a new outpost just debuting 2021.
In 2012 and again in 2014, Rick joined forces with Lookingglass Theatre Company to create Cascabel, the story of food’s capacity to change lives. Cascabel’s audience shared a meal with the cast of actors, musicians, singers and circus performers as the tale of unrequited love resolved into magical beauty. In 2021, he co-authored with Windy City Playhouse “Recipe for Disaster,” a farce based on the foibles of restaurant life.
Always a philanthropist, Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly 200 grants totaling nearly $3 million. He also launched the Frontera Scholarship, a culinary school 0pscholarship for Mexican-American students in Chicago, In 2019, Rick founded Impact Culinary Training, a restaurant job readiness program on the city’s west side. And in 2017 he established the Bayless Family Foundation to support the city’s vibrant theater scene with grants to Chicago theater companies totaling $1.5 million to date.
The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle–the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people.