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 Mexican cooking as an undergraduate student of Spanish and Latin American culture, and then a doctoral student in anthropological linguistics.
After hosting the 26-part PBS television series "Cooking Mexican" in 1978-1979, Rick and his wife Deann, dedicated over six 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). Released in 1996, Rick Bayless's 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 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 America's only fine-dining Mexican restaurants. Both restaurants have received awards and distinctions from, among others, Conde Nast Traveler, International Herald Tribune, Wine Spectator, Restaurants & Institutions, and Playboy, among others. In 1995, he and partners started the Frontera Foods line of authentic Mexican prepared food products.
Bayless was chosen "Best New Chef of 1988" by Food and Wine; in 1991, the James Beard Foundation voted him "Best American Chef: Midwest"; and in 1995 he won both the Beard Foundation's National Chef of the Year award and the International Association of Culinary Professional's Chef of the Year award. Bayless has been inducted into the prestigious Who's Who of American Food and Drink, and in 1998 was chosen as the Beard Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year.
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 Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs," Home Cooking with Amy Coleman" and "Great Chefs of America." And his ”Mexico—One Plate at a Time” is currently in its fifth season on PBS.
Bayless 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. He also is a restaurant consultant, teaches authentic Mexican cooking throughout the United States, and leads cooking and cultural tours to Mexico. 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.