Bayless graduated from OU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and went on to become one of the most highly regarded chefs in the world, focusing on Mexican cuisine. Bayless is best known for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Master. He has won the highest possible order awarded to foreigners by the Mexican government, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, for contributions to Mexican culture. Through his study of Mexican foodways, cuisine and culture, Bayless has contributed to international recognition of Mexican food as complex, rich and historically important.
Bayless is a successful restaurateur and owns eight world-class restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Topolobampo in Chicago. He stars on his own Emmy-nominated PBS television series, Mexico-One Plate at a Time, now in its 11th season. He is the author of eight cookbooks, explaining and demonstrating the pre-Hispanic origins of contemporary Mexican cuisine and its importance to Mexican culture. His books include Rick Bayless 's Mexican Kitchen, winner of the Cookbook of the Year at the 1996 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Awards.