Rick Bayless, the popular Chicago chef who creates some of the most memorable Mexican meals at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, squeaked past fellow competitors Michael Chiarello of Bottega and Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys to win Top Chef Masters on the Bravo Network Wednesday night.
Bayless, the quiet, unassuming and generally unflappable chef, calmly outcooked Chiarello and Keller with his creative and signature dishes, relying heavily on unique ingredients and Mexican flavors that were combined in just the right proportions to impress the panel of judges, giving him a very slim edge over Chiarello, who came in second.
For his efforts, Bayless won $100,000, that goes to the charity of his choice; in this case, it is the Frontera Farmer Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting small, sustainable farms by providing them with capital development grants. Started by Bayless and his wife Deann, the Foundation helps Chicago area struggling farmers maintain their viability in the production of sustainable produce for the region’s culinary outlets.
In winning Top Chef Masters, Bayless impressed the judges with four dishes that reflected the story of his life. To read more about Bayless’ experience on Top Chef Masters, visit his online blog.
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