Surely this is the what the title of honorary citizen is made for: ever since a family vacation in Mexico in the 1970s, Bayless has been a tireless ambassador for all things Mexican, but especially for the country’s varied and rich cuisine.
While tacos and nachos are the limit of most Americans’ vocabulary for Mexican cuisine, Bayless has made a career out of expanding that language, with words like mole—the complex and surprisingly varied sauce that defines Mexican cooking—and exotic-sounding chiles. The American palate has never been the same.
From his anchor restaurant, Frontera Grill in Chicago, Bayless has doggedly infused American cuisine with the sunny, warm flavors and spices of our southern neighbor, and educated those who can’t make the trip across the border through cookbooks and television shows. Even the chilly midwestern winters didn’t stop Bayless from growing a rooftop garden (protected from the elements) above his restaurants, which now include a fine dining and more casual outpost.
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