Rick Bayless was born in 1953, into an Oklahoma City family of restaurateurs specializing in the local barbecue. Having begun his culinary training as a youngster, Rick broadened his horizons to include regional Mexican cooking as an undergraduate student of Spanish and Latin American culture. After hosting the 26-part PBS television series Cooking Mexican in 1978-1979, Rick and his wife Deann, dedicated over 6 years to culinary research in Mexico, culminating in 1987 with the publication of his now-classic Authentic Mexican: regional cooking from the heart of Mexico (Morrow) which Craig Claiborne described as the greatest contribution to the Mexican table imaginable. Released in 1996, Rick Baylessís Mexican Kitchen: capturing the vibrant flavors of a world-class cuisine, has been similarly embraced, including having been chosen Best Cookbook of the Year by IACP Julia Child Cookbook Awards and the Chicago Tribune. In 1999, the Baylesses along with JeanMarie Brownson released Salsas That Cook.
In 1987, the Baylesses opened the colorful, vivacious Frontera Grill in Chicago, specializing in contemporary regional Mexican cooking. In 1989 came the earthy, elegant Topolobampo, one of Americaís only fine-dining Mexican restaurants. Both restaurants have received awards and distinctions from, among others, Conde Nast Traveler, Holiday Travel, International Herald Tribune, Wine Spectator, Restaurants & Institutions (Ivy), Chicago, Playboy, Zagat, local newspapers and trade journals. In 1995, he and partners started the Frontera Foods line of authentic mexican prepared food products.
Rick Bayless was chosen Best New Chef of 1988 by Food and Wine magazine; in 1991, the James Beard Foundation voted him Best American Chef: Midwest; and in 1995 he won both the Beard Foundationís National Chef of the Year award and the International Association of Culinary Professionalís Chef of the Year award. Rick has been inducted into the prestigious Whoís Who of American Food and Drink, and in 1998 was chosen as the Beard Foundationís Humanitarian of the Year. Among many accolades, Frontera Grill was chosen by Patricia Wells at the International Herald Tribune as the third best casual restaurant in the world.
Rick has appeared widely on television and radio, including Good Morning America, Today, CBS This Morning, Martha Stewart Living", Sara Moulton Cooking Live, and Cooking Live Prime Time, In Juliaís Kitchen with Master Chefs, Home Cooking with Amy Coleman and Great Chefs of America.
He has written for many publications, including Eating Well, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Vegetarian Times and Fine Cooking, Kitchen Garden, Travel & Leisure and Saveur (where he is a contributing editor). He is the chairman of Chefs Collaborative 2000, in support of environmentally sound agricultural practices, and is active in Share Our Strength, the nationís largest hunger advocacy organization.