Chef Rick Bayless given highest honor for foreigners by Mexican government
As a huge foodie, I pretty much follow all of the big celebrity chefs and am always on the lookout for new talent, both Latino and otherwise. One chef that kind of falls into both the "Latino" and "otherwise" category is Chicago-based chef Rick Bayless.
He's an American chef who is well-known for his spectacular Mexican cuisine. The thing is, he's not actually Mexican… but that hasn't stopped the man from popularizing Mexican cuisine to the American public. He's been so devoted to Mexican food that he has now been named to the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest distinction awarded to foreigners by the Mexican government.
I've been following Rick's career ever since I saw him on the first season of Top Chef Masters. Although I was already vaguely familiar with the Mexican cuisine chef (and the fact that he isn't Latino), he really captured me in the Bravo reality show that year. He just seemed like one of the nicest, sweetest and most sincere people I've ever watched. And, well, it didn't exactly hurt that he also won that season of Top Chef Masters. Oh yea, and he's also pocketed several James Beard Awards (the Oscars of the food world) in the past.
But I bet the owner of Frontera Grill (which opened in 1987) and Topolobampo (which opened in 1989) considers this honor from the Mexican government the biggest one yet. I mean, it's one thing to be validated by his fellow chefs… but it's another to be validated by the government of the country whose food you proudly serve. If I were him, I probably would have bawled with joy at the news.
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According to Eater (and their use of Google translate), the official announcement states that Rick Bayless was honored "for his important work in the promotion and dissemination of cultural expressions of our country internationally recognized, as is the national cuisine in general and Mexican cuisine in particular." I mean, basically, he's getting the top honor for being an ambassador of Mexican food. It's truly amazing that his culinary skills have taken him so far but I think it's great for the Mexican government to recognize him as a culinary leader for all the work he has done over the past.
What do you think of Rick Bayless receiving this great honor from the Mexican government? What is your favorite Latin food chef? Share with us in the comments below!
Image via bencollsuss/flickr