Award-winning chef-restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality Rick Bayless has done more than any other culinary star to introduce Americans to authentic Mexican cuisine and to change the image of Mexican food in America.
Rick is fourth generation in an Oklahoma family of restaurateurs and grocers. From 1980 to 1986, after studying Spanish and Latin American Studies as an undergraduate, and doing doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Rick lived in Mexico with his wife, Deann, writing his now-classic Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From The Heart of Mexico (William Morrow, 1987). The New York Times’s legendary Craig Claiborne hailed this work as the "greatest contribution to the Mexican table imaginable."
In 1996, Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine (Scribner) won the IACP National Julia Child “Cookbook of the Year Award”. The New York Times praised him as a writer who makes "true Mexican food user-friendly for Americans," and Time magazine hailed him as a "cookbook superstar." Rick's cookbook Salsas That Cook (Simon & Schuster), written with his wife, Deann, and JeanMarie Brownson, was published in 1999. At the 2001 James Beard Awards (the culinary equivalent of the Oscars), Mexico–One Plate at a Time, (Scribner) companion to the first season of the public television series by the same name , was singled out as the “Best International Cookbook.”
In 1987, Rick opened the hugely successful Frontera Grill, which specializes in contemporary regional Mexican cooking. Still today it remains one of Chicago's hottest dining spots. In 1988, Food & Wine magazine selected Rick as "Best New Chef of The Year," and in 1991, he won a James Beard Award for "Best American Chef: Midwest." In 1995, he won another James Beard Award for "National Chef of the Year" as well as an award for "Chef of the Year" from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). In 1998, the Beard Foundation honored Rick as "Humanitarian of the Year." In 2002, Bon Appétit honored him with the “Cooking Teacher of the Year Award”.
On the heels of Frontera Grill's success, Rick opened the elegant Topolobampo in 1989. Adjacent to Frontera Grill, Tobolobampo is one of America's only fine-dining Mexican restaurants. Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have received glowing distinctions from such publications as Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Atlantic Monthly, Condé Nast Traveler, Zagat's, The Wine Spectator, USA Today, Chicago Magazine and The Chicago Tribune. Topolobampo has been nominated twice by the James Beard Foundation as one of the most outstanding restaurants in our country.
In 1996, Rick began the prepared food line of salsas, chips, and grilling rubs under the Frontera Foods label. Frontera Foods went on to open Frontera Fresco—a food kiosk in the historic Marshall Fields (now Macy’s) building in 2005 in Chicago.
Rick resides in Chicago with his wife and daughter. With his wife he runs Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. He is the founder of the Frontera Farmer Foundation, an organization that supports small local farmers and has been active in Share Our Strength, the nation's largest hunger advocacy organization.
Rick is a restaurant consultant, teaches authentic Mexican cooking throughout the United States (he is a visiting staff member at the Culinary Institute of America), and leads cooking and cultural tours to Mexico.
Mexico—One Plate at a Time is currently airs on public television stations and Create TV. His cookbook with his 15 year old daughter, Lanie, titled Rick and Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures, was nominated for a James Beard Award as well as Rick’s sixth cookbook, Mexican Everyday.