“They taught us all kinds of lessons along the way and how to work in an organic method and how much effort they put in their growing systems—they taught me the greatest life lessons I think a chef can ever learn,” he says.
“Delicious is the underscore of it all,” Bayless said in closing. “Delicious is the thing that cuts right to our hearts. Delicious is the thing that animates us. Delicious is the thing that wants us to go that extra mile. One of the things we can say right now over the last 30 years Chicago has become a much more delicious place to be.”
During the panel, Kahan paid homage to Rick and Deanne Bayless for their mentorship as a former employee and remembered fondly his time at Frontera Grill when he was able to “see all this incredible product coming through the door everyday.”
“But as much as Rick mentored me what I’m most proud of is running a company of 10 businesses at present and more to come is thinking about sustainability in ever way—including how we treat people, but also looking how we’re treating the land and our waste and looking at every aspect of our business,” he said.
For two hours following the auditorium-style presentation, attendees were treated to different dishes prepared by the featured chefs, paired with strong margaritas, champagne and more.
The event was a joint effort of Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation, which has made nearly $2 million in grants to Midwestern local farmers since 2003, and FamilyFarmed, a nonprofit that works with farm and food entrepreneurs to build the market for delicious, healthy, locally and sustainably produced food.
"We couldn't just let this occasion go by without some major fanfare,” said Bayless. “And we thought it was only appropriate that we use this time to give back even more to the farmers who have dedicated their lives, and risked their livelihoods, to put food on our tables.”
Proceeds from the event benefited both Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed.
"Our shared values for a better food system and Good Food on Every Table make Rick Bayless' Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed perfect philanthropic partners," said Jim Slama, president and founder of FamilyFarmed. "The Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration will generate tremendous new resources to help small farms and food entrepreneurs flourish throughout the Chicago region."