Chicago Chef Rick Bayless Awarded at Smithsonian Food History Gala

Chicago chef, writer and humanitarian Rick Bayless is donating objects that represent his early career to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The new collection will be unveiled as Bayless accepts the 2016 Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts during the museum's second annual Smithsonian Food History Gala Thursday, 27 October.

Bayless is an American chef who specialises in traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretations. Born into a family of restaurateurs, Bayless began cooking as a teen, when he also visited Mexico for the first time. In 1980, he moved to Mexico with his wife Deann and spent years learning about Mexican foodways. His first cookbook, Authentic Mexican (1987), was followed by eight more on Mexico's regional cuisines. He opened his first restaurant, Frontera Grill, in Chicago in 1987 and has since opened six restaurants and created a line of Mexican-inspired prepared foods.

The Bayless collection includes a number of objects and archival materials that represent the beginnings of his career; of particular interest are field notes and the small typewriter from his years traveling through Mexico, dishware from his Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants and his chef's coat and apron from Frontera Grill. A small selection of the materials will be on view near Julia Child's kitchen in the "FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000" exhibition 27–30 October.

"We are so pleased to welcome Chef Bayless to the nation's history museum and are grateful that he is sharing his experiences with the American public," said John Gray, director of the museum. "Through restaurants, books and TV shows, he brought Mexican foods and flavours to broader audiences, just as Julia Child did for French cooking."

An independent jury selected Bayless as the second recipient of the Julia Child Award in May on behalf of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

"The Julia Child Award is an annual reminder of the values Julia shared with the American public and at the same time recognises someone who is carrying on that culinary torch," said Eric W. Spivey, chairman of the foundation. "The museum is the perfect place to host the award ceremony and the foundation believes the jury made the perfect choice in selecting Rick Bayless as the second recipient."

Find out more about the Julia Child award on the website here.