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Rick Bayless Portrait

Chicago chef Rick Bayless eats a pepper. Mayor Brandon Johnson recently declared March 21 as Rick Bayless Day.

City of Chicago declares 3/21 as Rick Bayless Day

Mayor Brandon Johnson is recognizing the decades-long career of Rick Bayless and the impact he has had on the city’s restaurant scene.

Bayless is also celebrating 37 years in business at Frontera Grill. It’s a special – and specific – anniversary, since that’s the same length his family’s restaurant stayed open.

Reset host Sasha-Ann Simons sat down with Chef Bayless. Here are some highlights from their conversation.

Tell us more about your parents’ restaurant.

When I opened Frontera, I thought to myself, “Will I have the same staying power as my parents?” You can imagine how many changes have been in Chicago in 37 years. But we're still going strong, and so did my parents’ restaurant… Having met that same milestone, I just feel incredibly proud.

Now you have expanded your reach beyond restaurants. So talk about some of the farms that you've supported over the years with the Frontera Farmer Foundation.

We have supported about 200 different farms… We've given away about $3.5 million now, in these small grants. So we think of ourselves as sort of, you know, sprinkling the fairy dust on the farms all around the Chicagoland area and beyond.

Do you see yourself ever retiring?

Heavens no. If I was forced to retire, I’m sure I’d have a restaurant open in six months… The restaurant business is really a business for young people, because it’s super physical. (My wife) and I are mentoring this next generation that’s coming up. But it is so wonderful to be surrounded by them – their energy, their vitality, the way they think outside the box, they keep me really young.

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