Chicago chef Rick Bayless is masterful.
The Mex maestro beat out Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and Michael Chiarello of Bottega in California to become the first winner of the Bravo cooking show spin-off “Top Chef Masters.”
“I have to say, this experience of going through ‘Top Chef Masters’ is just about the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Bayless, 55, said. “I’d have to say it’s even harder than opening a restaurant.”
But Bayless, who owns Frontera Grill/Topolobampo in Chicago, made the finale look easy. The three finalist chefs were asked to concoct a four-course meal that told the story of their life, and Bayless nailed it with four regional Mexican dishes that included hickory smoked quail, Oaxacan black mole, roast suckling pig cake and black rice soup called arroz a la tumbada.
Bayless not only won the honor of being called the first Top Chef Master, he also won a $100,000 donation for his charity, Frontera Farmer Foundation, a foundation he started to support small sustainable Midwestern farms.
Better make reservations at his restaurants immediately!