Mod Mex Pits Bayless and Other Top Mexican Chefs in Face-off

Mod Mex Pits Bayless and Other Top Mexican Chefs in Face-off
Chefs Bayless. Stupak. Gaytan and Vallejos Face off this September

Holy Mole Bayless, Stupak, Gaytan and Vallejos all under the same roof. I think I just died and went to foodie heaven.

If you are a foodie, you know who these guys are. Even if you're not a foodie but love Mexican cuisine you'll want to take note.

The names are synonymous with the best Mexican cuisine in the world, and this September, all four of these superstar celebrity chefs will unite in Chicago.

Chef Rick Bayless, in collaboration with the Kendall College Charitable Trust and the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF), will be welcoming his esteemed culinary contemporaries - Alex Stupak (Empellon, NYC), Carlos Gaytan (Mexique, Chicago) and Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico City) to a Windy City cook-off of sorts.

Actually the event named, Mod Mex, is a lot more than a cook off.  It is a two-day immersion program that offers 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.

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.

Tickets: $75 per person available on the Kendall Foundation Website. (Space is limited)

Event info: 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) at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $175 per person (all inclusive) at the Kendall Foundation Website (Space is limited)

Event info: 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.

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.

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