Name: Rick Bayless
Occupation: Chef/Restaurateur/Writer/TV Personality
Twitter Handle: @rick_bayless
Facebook Page: chefrickbayless
What are three words that best describe you? Focused, food and fun.
Could you describe your business? I have three flagship restaurants—Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOCO—located in Chicago’s River North area; the rest of my restaurants are quick-serve outlets (Frontera Fresco; Tortas Frontera) that are scattered around the city and country.
What is your role, where are you based and what do you inspires you most about your work? I am the executive chef, I am based in Chicago, and the people I work with inspires me the most. I love coming to work.
Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken? Yes, several things: Growing up in my parent’s barbecue restaurant; traveling to Mexico the first time when I was a kid…
What experience in your career are you most proud of? This year, Frontera Grill turned 26 and Topolobampo turned 24. Pretty astounding.
What advice would you share with those still in school? Always work with a sharp knife!
Why is giving back is important to you? Chicago is all about community. And we want to do things that enrich our community.
How has giving back helped you? My charity, the Frontera Farmer Foundation, helps small, sustainable farmers become viable businesses. This is great for my restaurants, because these are exactly the kind of farms that grow the vegetables and fruits we want to use in the restaurants.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life? Every day—by cooking with foods raised by small, sustainable farms in the Midwest.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? My own charity, the Frontera Farmer Foundation, is closest to my heart.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help? I love hearing the stories from farmers that we have helped. Our grants have made small farms go from barely making it to thriving.
What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across? Last year we did a rotating station fundraiser in my yard! 1000 a person—they got to see me do a demo in my home kitchen, learn about my production garden with our gardener, learn how to make a mean margarita with our mixologist, wine pairings with our sommelier. It was a blast.
What are some must-attend charity events for you? I love being in my local dancing with Chicago Celebrities for Susan G. Komen/Breast Cancer research. I do it every year.
What brands do you wear most often? I love vintage, but also like Varvatos.
What is your favorite beauty product? I don’t have a lot, but I have been known to visit a body shop and get some hair stuff there!
How would you describe your home décor? Clean, modern.
What is your secret for hosting a great party? Plan well and splurge!
Favorite food: Tough one…tomatillo salsa comes pretty close to perfect…
Favorite cocktail: Again, hard to narrow down, but a perfect margarita is, well, perfect.
Favorite restaurant: NO WAY am I answering that!
Favorite vacation spot: Oaxaca, Mexico — it’s become a real home away from home for me.
Do you have any tips for parents? As far as cooking—get them in the kitchen as soon as you can. Start with simple stuff—veggie platters, have them help with small stuff that they can do. It’s fun and leads to doing bigger stuff down the road. My daughter Lanie conquered chocolate soufflé at 11!
Favorite TV show: I don’t watch much tv, but I really like Modern Family and Dancing with the Stars.
Favorite movie: too hard. I loved Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.
Favorite song: I love all musicals, for my 60th birthday my wife planned a flashmob to sing songs from HAIR.
Favorite book: the kind you cook from.
Favorite apps: Instagram, Snapseed…anything that feeds my photography habit…
iPhone or Android: iPhone
Favorite workout: Yoga.
Where do you get your news? My phone mostly. And Stephen Colbert.