If the mezcal tasting event hosted Wednesday (June 7) by Rick and Deann Bayless proved anything, it is that their Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed love to party around Good Food and artisan beverages. The party — at the Frontera group’s Cruz Blanca on Restaurant Row in Chicago’s West Loop — was a sequel to the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, held April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago. That fundraiser produced (at latest tally) more than $140,000 in proceeds to be split evenly by Family Farmed and Frontera Farmer Foundation, to advance their efforts to help farmers and businesses build a better food system.
It might sound somewhat surprising that Rick Bayless, a pioneering advocate for the Chicago region’s local farmers and a master of regional Mexican cuisine, recently converted to using imported corn for his tortillas.
But this isn’t just any corn. It is dried heirloom corn from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where some historians believe the cultivation of maize began. And it underscores the fact that in a diverse and increasingly interconnected food culture, authentic farm to table restaurants may take their search for the best ingredients way beyond their local areas…. and sometimes to a different part of the world.