Growing up in Oklahoma City, Rick Bayless never thought much about twisters.
“I was very accustomed to tornadoes,” said the renowned chef. “As a kid, we thought of them as sort of funny things, where there would be some sort of big storm that came through this time every year, and a tornado would touch and wipe out a section of town, and we’d all go jump in our cars and see what was gone. Not that that was easy, but it wasn’t the devastation we’re seeing now.”
It’s this recent devastation that has prompted Bayless, who has achieved worldwide fame with his award-winning Frontera Grill restaurants, to spring to action.
As part of the OK Chefs Relief pop-ups, Bayless will lend his culinary expertise to a three-part food experience.
With much of his family still living in the Sooner State, he said, it’s the least he can do to support his hometown.
“The one thing about people that work in hospitality is that we’re always taking care of people, and there is not a more generous group than chefs and restaurant people,” Bayless said.
“I think I have to do all I can do to help raise funds and awareness and let people know that folks are concerned about them and that we’re doing everything we can to help things get right. Everybody’s going to be taken care of by those around them.”
Bayless, whose restaurants specialize in Mexican cuisine, is still putting the final selection together for the benefit’s menu. But the one item he could confirm would be the dish for which he’s garnered the most acclaim: mole.
“Certainly that will be the centerpiece of one of our courses, one of our famous moles,” Bayless said. “That’s all I really want to talk about now, because everything can change.”
Bayless promises a meal people won’t forget as well as a cause that Oklahomans won’t forget anytime soon.
“Don’t you usually want to support the people in your community? This is a way to show your support,” he said. “Plus it’s a very pleasurable way to do it, because you also get a meal, the likes of which is not really available in Oklahoma City.”