Mexican-themed program features Rick Bayless, benefits Kendall College scholarship fund

This fabulous event is a foodie's dream! Don't you think?

SEPTEMBER 14-15, 2013

Leading Mexican chefs unite in Chicago to benefit culinary scholarship programs at Kendall College

Bayless. Stupak. Gaytan. Vallejos. These names are synonymous with the best Mexican cuisine in the world, and this September, all four unite in Chicago. Chef Rick Bayless, in collaboration with the Kendall College Charitable Trust and the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF), is pleased to welcome his esteemed culinary contemporaries - Alex Stupak (Empellon, NYC), Carlos Gaytan (Mexique, Chicago) and Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico City). Together, the award-winning chefs will present Mod Mex, a two-day program giving food enthusiasts a rare opportunity to explore, taste, and celebrate the evolution of Mexican cuisine with those who have defined and continue to influence this category.


Proceeds from Mod Mex will benefit Chicago Public School students studying culinary arts at Kendall College through two reputable organizations. The full-tuition Frontera scholarship has been offered to Mexican-American students through the Kendall College Charitable Trust in partnership with Rick Bayless since 2007. The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation - which awarded $145,000 in scholarships to 61 deserving students this year - builds the future of Illinois' hospitality workforce through career exploration, development programs and scholarships.

The two-day program includes:

Mod Mex: The New Face of Mexican Food 
Saturday, September 14
Kendall College (900 N. Branch St., Chicago)
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. $75 per person 
Space is limited. Click here for tickets or visit

Four chefs. Four styles. One cuisine. At this friendly face-off, Chefs Bayless, Stupak, Gaytan and Vallejo defend their vision of Mexican cooking while emcee Peter Sagal, of NPR's famed Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! referees and engages the audience. The day begins with breakfast and morning mezcal cocktails, followed by a program during which each chef individually describes and demonstrates his take on Mexican cuisine. The day will also include interactive presentations on Wines from Baja and mezcal. At the program's conclusion, guests will enjoy a walk around tasting featuring the cuisine of each chef, along with beverages and the opportunity to mingle with the famed toques.

Mod Mex: The Meal
Sunday, September 15
Frontera Grill (445 N. Clark St., Chicago)
6 p.m. $175 per person (all inclusive)
Space is limited. Click here for tickets or visit

Chef Bayless is pleased to welcome Chefs Stupak, Gaytan and Vallejo into his kitchen, where - for the first time - the four chefs will collaborate on a five-course, Mod Mex dinner. Each course will be expertly paired with wine and spirits, and will be held in Frontera Grill's vibrant dining room. The chefs will be on hand throughout the evening to present their dishes, as well as answer questions about their restaurants and signature style.

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About The Chefs
Chef Rick Bayless: Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, Tortas Frontera, Fontera Fresco
Rick Bayless is the winner of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" and host of the Daytime Emmy-nominated PBS show, "Mexico - One Plate at a Time," now in its ninth season. The bestselling author of eight cookbooks, Rick's "Mexican Kitchen" won the Julia Child IACP Cookbook of the Year award in 1996, while his fourth book was named the James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year for 2001. Founded in 1987, Rick's Frontera Grill received the James Beard Foundation's highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007. That same year, Rick was named Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his many philanthropic endeavors. His other business ventures include the four-star Topolobampo, the popular fast-casual Xoco, and O'Hare's innovative quick-service restaurant, Tortas Frontera, Frontera Fresco and his Frontera line of sauces.

Chef Alex Stupak: Empellón Taqueria, Empellón Cocina
Alex Stupak, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, is an award-winning former Alinea, wd~50, and Clio Restaurant pastry chef, and founder of New York's Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina. Following his groundbreaking work as a pastry chef, Alex went on to win "Iron Chef America" in 2008, and was twice named one of Pastry Art & Design's "Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America." Hailed as a visionary, Alex was recently named one of the Top10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine. In 2013, his East Village restaurant, Empellón Cocina, was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant award.

Chef Carlos Gaytan: Mexique
Carlos Gaytan arrived in Chicago in early 1991 and began his award-winning career at the Sheraton Chicago Northbrook Hotel, quickly rising through the ranks and earning the position of chef garde manger in his first year. In 1996, Carlos joined the prestigious Union League Club of Chicago, where he honed his abilities cooking a wide variety of foods, eventually attaining the position of banquet sous chef. Following a four-year stint as chef de cuisine at Bistrot Margot, Carlos ultimately opened his own restaurant, Mexique, which earned him "Chef of the Year 2011" from the American Culinary Federation and the "Michelin Bib Gourmand Award 2012" for the second year in a row, all of which culminated in Mexique receiving its first star in the Michelin Guide.

Chef Jorge Vallejos, Quintonil
Jorge Vallejo trained in Culinary Arts and Administration at the Centro Culinario de México, A.C. Ambrosia. He began his career as chef de partie aboard the Coral Princess, Crown Princess and Star Princess cruise ships. Jorge resumed his career on land at Pujol and in 2007 was promoted to executive chef at Mexico City's renowned Hotel Condesa DF. After being named corporate chef for Grupo Habita in 2009, Jorge was invited to take on executive chef duties at the Hotel St. Regis in Mexico City, where his work received rave reviews. Following a brief stint in Copenhagen at René Redzepi's Noma, recently voted the world's best restaurant, Jorge and his wife opened Mexico City's Quintonil restaurant in 2012.

About the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is a 501c(3) dedicated to building Illinois' hospitality workforce through career exploration, workforce development programs and scholarships.

ProStart® is a national, two-year high school program that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow's restaurant and foodservice leaders.  ProStart's culinary arts and hospitality management curriculum is industry driven, builds practice skills and facilitates work-based learning experiences. Approximately 95,000 students participate in ProStart® in 47 states.

Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation administers the ProStart® program in Illinois and has over 3,000 student participants in 55 schools in the Chicagoland area.  Students have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials and articulated credits for college while in high school. The 2013 Educational Foundation Scholarship Program awarded $145,000 in scholarships to 61 deserving students attending 25 colleges and universities. Visit for more information. For more information about the national ProStart® program visit 

About the Illinois Restaurant Association
Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. For more information, visit or the organization's Facebook andTwitter channels.

About the Kendall College Charitable Trust
The Kendall College Charitable Trust is dedicated to providing financial support for students of need enrolled in the culinary, hospitality, business and education programs at Kendall College. Scholarships are available for students in career programs who have completed their first year of study. 80 scholarship recipients received grants totaling over $240,000 for the 2012-2013 academic year. The Kendall College Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit corporation and all donations to the Trust are tax deductible. For more information, please visit

About Kendall College
Kendall College, founded in 1934, is located in Chicago, Illinois and is a member of the Laureate International Universities network. Kendall offers undergraduate degrees inbusinessculinary artsearly childhood education and hospitality management to a diverse and passionate community of more than 2200 students. The curriculum combines strong academics with practical experience and international educational opportunities that help give students in business, hospitality and culinary arts programs the skills and expertise to be leaders in their professions. Kendall College was ranked the number one program in Chicago for preparing students for careers in hospitality management and culinary arts in a survey of management at Chicago's leading hotels and Michelin Guide restaurants (ORC International - 2011 Survey). Kendall College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA),; 1-312-263-0456. For more information, visit