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Rick Bayless Opening College Eatery at Northwestern

Rick Bayless Opening College Eatery at Northwestern



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What is it with famous chefs upping the ante at college campuses?

While Guy Fieri may be bringing his Tex-Mex-Japanese-fusion cuisine to Montclair State University this fall, Rick Bayless will be slinging some serious Mexican food at Northwestern University.

According to the University's website, Bayless' team will be opening a Frontera Fresco at the university's student center, Norris, replacing a Sbarro, Jamba Juice, and Crepe Bistro. No offense to those guys, but it sounds like a good trade-off.

The menu will reportedly include Frontera Fresco's standard tacos, tortas, tamales, quesadillas, soups, and salads. But the team is also adding breakfast to the menu. "The space previously occupied by the Crepe Bistro will become part of Frontera, offering coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, smoothies, soft-serve ice cream and a make-your-own parfait bar," the website says.

"It’s a new concept that we’re developing for Northwestern and we’re really excited about it," Stacy Dixon, a Frontera's representative, told Northwestern. "With this additional sweets component, it’s really kind of a one-stop shop where you can come back many times during the day and have something different each time."

In the meantime, recent Northwestern grads are griping about graduating too early, as Bayless tacos would be just the sort of thing to get on a Sunday morning.


Q&A with Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless

Chicago-based restaurateur, cookbook author, TV-star and James Beard Award-winning chef Rick Bayless paid a visit to Frontera Fresco yesterday for its grand opening. The ceremony featured speeches, a ribbon cutting, a book signing, raffle prizes and, not to mention, free samples of guacamole and mini-desserts.

Around noon, Bayless walked in amid the crowd of eager, cookbook-clutching fans and TV news reporters, taste-testing soft-serve ice cream behind the counter before making his way to the microphone. Later, Bayless signed copies of his cookbooks, Everyday Mexican and Fiesta at Rick’s, chatting individually with the long line of fans.

The much-buzzed-about Norris location of Frontera Fresco, featuring locally-sourced authentic Mexican cuisine with plenty of gluten-free options, opened back in November in response to initiatives to make Norris more of a “destination” and to increase food quality. But it wasn’t official until Bayless himself made an appearance to ring in NU Cuisine’s new focus on sustainable ingredients.

“The key to the university’s strategic plan that we released last year was creating Northwestern experiences…to bring people together,” said Provost Daniel Linzer at the opening. “And there is no better way to bring people together than with great food.”

“This dovetails so nicely with efforts we’ve been making across campus for sustainability and local, organic, seasonal and authentic cuisine,” said nuCuisine Resident District Manager Steve Mangan.

Bayless has made locally-sourced food a priority throughout his career, committing to using local food and produce from farmers within a 100-mile radius of his award-winning Chicago restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. In 2003, Bayless started the Frontera Farmer Foundation to give grants to local farmers for capital improvements on their family farms. Everything served at Frontera Fresco is from farmers supported by the Foundation.

At the book-signing, we had the chance to chat with Chef Bayless about local foods, his collegiate days and more. Here’s the scoop!

What is so valuable about locally sourced ingredients? Why should we strive to cook and eat local foods?

What you can get from locally sourced ingredients is a taste of place. And when you go to a regular grocery store and eat stuff from just wherever, it all tastes the same. There’s no sense of real seasonality, and there’s no sense of unique flavors of what can grow really well in our area. So once you get off that grid and into locally sourced ingredients, what you really find is that you suddenly feel sort of rooted in the place that you are. And there’s so much of a sense of disenfranchisement just in our society that food and flavor can be one of the things that can make you feel like you’re in a place.

Any tips for special techniques or ingredients students should know about to make their own authentic Mexican cuisine?

Mexican food is very complex, and I know that what a lot of people think of Mexican food: it’s very simple. Just throw some chiles in it, throw some cilantro in it, and you’ve made [it] Mexican. Well that’s not what they would ever do in Mexico, because they treat the ingredients in a slightly different way. They’re looking for much more complex flavor. So for instance, if you’re going to make a tomato sauce, in Mexico they would […] roast the tomatoes first, so you increase the complexity and bring out their sweetness and add depth to it. Put some chiles in there, but roast the chiles first: dry-roast them until they’re blackened on the outside, then pound them in the mortar. It’s not just about those ingredients, it’s about how you treat those ingredients and what flavors you can create with them.

We focus a whole lot on dried chiles because that’s a big part of Mexican cuisine […] if I was to say what was the main flavor that I associate with Mexican food, it would be the sauces made from dried chiles. So if people want to start exploring that, that’s a really cool thing.

The easiest thing to explore of course is the chipotle, which is the smoked dried jalapeño, and you can find them both dried and in cans […] and those are interesting ways to work in dried-chili flavor to dishes, whether it be a tomato sauce or [smashed up] as a marinade on some chicken that you’re going to grill.

Okay, now the fun questions. Did you have those college “Ramen years” back in the day, or were you always such an avid chef?

I grew up in a restaurant family, and when I was in college, I was one of the managers of our restaurant, so I ate at our restaurant all the time. I would take home leftover food from the restaurant, so that’s what I made. I was not a Ramen person.

If somebody makes good doughnuts, that’s my guilty pleasure…not just Dunkin’ Donuts or some crappy thing, no. It’s gotta be a good doughnut, and I will stop everything. I’ve been known to drive a long way just for a good doughnut.

Photo by Lily Allen Photo by Lily Allen Photo by Lily Allen
Photo by Lily Allen Photo by Lily Allen Photo by Lily Allen
Photo by Lily Allen

How the Chile Pepper Took Over the World

Until 500 years ago, the spice was confined to Central and South America. We track the heat wave through Jamaica…

Point is, nothing is authentic, everything comes from somewhere else, and no one should pretend that they come from a purely self-invented culinary culture.

But what now are we talking about? The now of “generally now,” the early 21st century? Or the now of specifically 2017?

All right, this is my way of bringing up two of the most frequent and famous targets of the cultural-appropriation-of-food debate: Rick Bayless and Andy Ricker. The former is a lauded-by-everyone chef who’s been cooking Mexican food in Chicago for decades the latter is an ex-backpacker who brought… more interesting Thai food to Portland, Oregon. They’re both white guys, they both learned about their cuisines as outsiders, and they both get a ton of shit about all of the above—sometimes justifiably. Recently, NPR ran a story about cultural appropriation and food and Rick Bayless, and Bayless responded in the comments, defending himself. Poorly, I thought. I don’t have time to dig up the link right now, but he made some bullshit comments about how no one complained about Julia Child “appropriating” French food, as if that were a fair analog to a present-day white chef presenting supposedly authentic Mexican or Thai or Ghanaian food at a well-funded restaurant. (For the record, it’s not: There was no power imbalance between Julia and French cuisine it’s only when a greater power appropriates—doesn’t “steal” feel, uh appropriate here?—from a lesser one that we get all het up.)

Anyway! If Rick Bayless or Andy Ricker were a no-name chef trying to open a serious Mexican or Thai restaurant right now, halfway through 2017, I would be skeptical. You should be, too. At this point, there are tons of actual Mexican and Thai chefs who could not only cook well but also create a marketable restaurant experience—in other words, who might “deserve” a shot at being what Bayless and Ricker are today.

What I worry about in these debates is that we forget what Portland, Oregon, was like in 2005, when Ricker’s Pok Pok opened, or what Chicago was like in 1987, when Bayless opened Frontera Grill. Portland, as we know well, is the whitest city in America, and as of 2011 there were less than 2,000 Thai people living in the metro area. I don’t know how many of them were chefs, or dreamed of opening a mainstream (i.e., not-catering-mostly-to-Thais) restaurant, but demographically, it sure looks like a place that could not support much of a Thai restaurant scene beyond the generic “green curry with tofu/chicken/beef/shrimp/salmon” place you find everywhere now. That’s the scene Ricker came onto—and whatever you may think of the food at his restaurants, he was definitely doing something more interesting. Was his food Thailand-good? Was it authentic? I don’t know, but I think those are the wrong questions. The guy approached the cuisine as an outsider, never claimed to be authentic, and did what he could to educate the whitest diners in America about the possibilities of Thai cuisine.

This is, I want to be clear, a defense of Ricker in 2005–7 and of Bayless in the 1980s. Things have changed since then. Food is huge in a way it wasn’t even ten years ago, and there are people of color who see restaurant-cheffing as a viable career path in a way that used to not exist. (And there are a shitload of problems with that still! But the fact that, say, second-generation immigrants want to be chefs and food writers, not doctors, says a lot about what the food business has become, and how our overall culture has changed.) Should the next Andy Ricker be Thai? I don’t know, but I know they’re going to need a more compelling relationship to Thai food (foods?) than “I’ve spent years diligently studying the cuisine in Thailand.”


Details on New Bayless Projects: One XOCO, One Completely New Concept

Scaffolding has appeared on the facade of the former Salud space on Milwaukee Avenue, meaning construction is underway on the first new stand-alone Rick Bayless restaurant in Chicago since XOCO opened more than four years ago. In fact, that restaurant will be another XOCO—with a couple tweaks, Bayless says. But Bayless also says that his other new restaurant—on Randolph Row—will be "a completely new concept that you've never seen before."

Whatever the specific concept is, it's something that's been percolating in Bayless' brain for a long time. "We've been thinking (about Randolph) for quite some time," Bayless says. "That's the thing that we're really putting a lot of creative energy into, but working with the landlord on the lease was taking forever and ever and ever."

He also says it's "sort of in the Frontera world but it's super rustic, and there's virtually nothing like it in the United States." The location will also house a nanobrewery to "make beverages for our restaurants," but he's unsure whether there will be a tasting room. Bayless is working with Crown Imports to develop his own beer brand and is also developing beer recipes with Negra Modelo.

He's still working out the details for the restaurant (but has the "heart and soul developed") and will divulge more information in around four months. He says the whole project is about a year away.

Which means that XOCO Wicker Park is opening much sooner. Bayless says the goal is to open that in the beginning of March, with construction taking place throughout the winter.

While the cuisine will be similar to the original XOCO in River North, the new location will be much larger, feature table service and a bar component with local beer on tap. The Salud space features a front lounge and bar, a rear dining room, and a 24-seat patio XOCO River North holds just 40 seats.

"What that neighborhood really wants and needs is something very much like XOCO," Bayless says, "very family-friendly, great for people who live in the neighborhood and people who come to concerts. At XOCO you stand in line, you get your food, you eat, you get out. This is going to be a bit more comfortable."

And although he's opening a Tortas Frontera at the University of Pennsylvania, there are no plans right now to open at other college campuses or other airports. He says he's "not out looking for places at all. when something comes to us, we consider it." He's also trying to work out how to source the right ingredients outside of Chicago, using the Penn location as a testing ground.

Finally, he says Cascabel will be bigger and better this year, that he's revamping the lunch menu at Topolobampo and the dinner menu at Frontera Grill soon.

"Everything that I have done in the past, I'm doing more of," he says. "There is something moving on every front." Stay tuned.
· All Rick Bayless Coverage [-ECHI-]
· Rick Bayless [Official Site]


Rick Bayless hits campus with first location at Northwestern

Jan. 24—Celebrity chef Rick Bayless has opened his first campus restaurant at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. which has foodservice managed by Sodexo. The concept will feature authentic Mexican cuisine including tacos, tortas, quesadillas, special seasonal dishes and gluten-free options.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Rick on his campus dining concept for Frontera Fresco,” Steve Mangan, resident district manager for Northwestern’s nuCuisine, said in a press release. “Northwestern is a community of dynamic cultures from across the globe. Rick’s fresh twist on Mexican cuisine is an ideal fit for the Northwestern University community.”

nuCuisine, is a collaborative partnership run by Northwestern University and Sodexo. Its executive chefs provide the campus community with international cuisines, made-to-order entrées and aim for “destination dining” experiences.

“I am pleased for this great opportunity to put a Frontera Fresco inside such a prestigious university,” Bayless said in the release. “Sodexo and Northwestern have turned out to be great partners in opening our first on-campus restaurant. Northwestern University students and faculty will love the menu, the experience and the high quality we deliver through Frontera Fresco.”


Rick Bayless' 'Mexico: One Plate at a Time' serves up 10th season on PBS

He has three renowned Mexican restaurants in Chicago, five Tortas Frontera outposts (including three at O'Hare International Airport) plus several Frontera Fresco eateries. He's written eight cookbooks, and his Frontera Foods company makes sauces, marinades and tortilla chips for supermarkets.

And, yes, he also has a television show, "Mexico: One Plate at a Time," which kicks off its 10th season Friday on PBS.

So you'd think Chef Rick Bayless would know pretty much all there is to know about Mexican food. Think again.

"I always learn something," Bayless said of his travels throughout Mexico for the show.

This time, though, he won't be learning from grandmothers in Oaxaca or Veracruz. Instead, his teachers are a dozen-plus young chefs in Mexico City, some just toddlers when Bayless opened Frontera Grill, his first restaurant, 28 years ago this March. Chefs like Gabriela Camara (Contramar), Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil), Edgar Nunez (Sud 777), Paloma Ortiz (Yuban) and Eduardo "Lalo" Garcia (Maximo Bistrot) among them.

"The most interesting part is to see some of these young chefs bring new eyes to old ingredients or old techniques," Bayless says. "They all have amazing equipment in their kitchens, and some of it is quite high-tech. To see it applied to Mexican ingredients sometimes just blows me away."

There's the time he found a comal, a traditional earthenware cooking platter, in an ultramodern restaurant kitchen. Why wasn't the chef using cast iron, steel or stainless steel? Bayless asked the chef. The answer: "Because the clay absorbs moisture in a different way than those other pieces could do and I can get a certain kind of char. The clay is really gentle even when you're charring stuff. If you do that on steel, it will just burn it."

And the time a chef used a programmable blending/grinding/cooking appliance called a Thermomix to make mole. "It took all the pain out of it," Bayless says, "but it tasted super traditional."

Not all the learning takes place in restaurant kitchens, of course. Bayless and the chefs head to the streets, neighborhoods, bakeries, cooking schools and markets of Mexico City — as well as a high-rise terrace in Polanco that's been turned into a vineyard that produces tempranillo, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and albarino.

Bayless asks each chef to take him to a place that inspires them, and not one chooses a fancy restaurant. "One chef took me to his aunt's house, and she made the dish that inspired a dish on his menu," Bayless says. And chef Jorge Vallejo — "My favorite chef right now in Mexico" — took him to the famous Taqueria Los Cocuyos.

"It's just a little window on a street," Bayless recalls. "And I said, 'I love your food. It's super refined. You make, to me, the most deeply rooted modern food that's very precise. Why did you take me to this place?' And he said, 'Taste it. Taste it.' And I took a bite of it and it just makes you melt.

"I said, 'I get it. . You brought me here because it's all about a flavor that is so commanding that it takes your breath away.'"

"If we don't have that," Vallejo told him, "we don't have anything."

"Every chef in Mexico City will tell you that in five years there has been an explosion of amazing food in Mexico City," Bayless says during an interview in his offices above Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and the first Xoco (a second one opened last year in Wicker Park). As a result, this season's shows don't bear any resemblance to the previous shows he did in the Mexican capital.

Several factors are at play. Many of the young chefs have been trained in Europe, often Spain, and they're inspired by chefs who are reinventing cuisines, Bayless says. They're boiling and grinding their own corn, sometimes heirloom varieties, to make masa for tortillas. They're trying to save ancient varieties of cacao and rethinking how their grandmothers prepared huazontles (also spelled huauzontles), a spiky green with clusters on top that look like tiny broccoli florets.

And they've headed back to the floating gardens of Xochimilco, where their pre-Columbian ancestors grew vegetables and flowers on rafts woven with reeds and tree branches to form small islands (chinampas) that float among the canals. Today they're guided by an agricultural expert who helps them grow wild greens (quelites).

"Every single one of them says the same thing, 'When I got away from Mexico, I realized how incredibly rich the ingredients are and the traditions are. I just want to come back and work in that,'" Bayless says. "This is the first generation of chefs that's ever done that, and I think that is so super."

You'll find young talent all over the city, but especially in two colonias — what Mexico City calls its neighborhoods — Polanco and Condesa.


Rick Bayless Opening A Frontera Fresco At Northwestern

Those lucky Northwestern kids: their school knows how to treat them right. The university announced yesterday that an outlet of Frontera Fresco, Chef Rick Bayless's quick service chain, would open in Norris University Center. It's the first time Bayless has opened a restaurant on a college campus.

Replacing a Sbarro&mdashan improvement by any metric&mdashFrontera Fresco will serve a full menu of Bayless's Mexican specialties, including tacos, tamales, tortas, soups and salads. Everything in the restaurant will be sourced from within 100 miles&mdashno Sodexo trucks will be pulling up to the back of this fast food joint.

So far, the expansion of Bayless's empire into fast food has been met with universal acclaim. Every foodie we know makes a point of stopping at Tortas Frontera every time they go to O'Hare, the new Loop location is bustling, and we get a hankering for the food at Frontera Fresco on Macy's second floor at least once a month. The level of quality remains high, and the commitment to local food, despite the expense, proves that Bayless is sticking with the values that made him such a success.

Frontera's director of marketing, Stacy Dixon, explained the way the restaurant's sourcing works.


New Rick Bayless Restaurant, Two Craft Beer Pubs Opening in Evanston

If you like beer and Mexican food, you're in luck this fall. Two new pubs selling craft beer are opening up in Evanston, and the city will also be blessed with two new Mexican restaurants.

Rick Bayless' Mexican Cusine Comes to Northwestern

Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless will open his first Frontera Fresco restaurant on a college campus at Northwestern's Norris Center this fall. Conceived as a fast, casual version of Bayless' famous Frontera Grill, the restaurant will offer tacos, tortas, tamales, quesadillas, soups and salads made from local ingredients.

Smylie Brothers Brewpub To Fill Illinois Unemployment Office

Evanston's city council recently approved a liquor license for Smylie Brothers Restaurant and Brewery, which will take over the 8,400-square-foot building that once housed the Illinois Unemployment Office at 1608 Oak Ave. According to city documents, the restaurant and brewery will provide seating for 200 with a menu featuring craft beers and American regional food such as barbecue and pizza.

World of Beers Set To Open This Month

Located at 1601 Sherman Avenue, the franchise establishment serving a lineup of craft beers is set to open soon, according to its Facebook page. Unlike other World of Beers locations, Evanston's pub will have a kitchen in order to conform to the city's code banning bars without food service.

Down Dog Brings Hot Yoga to Evanston

New studio Down Dog Hot Yoga recently opened at 1508 Sherman Avenue. The fitness spot offers classes in hot yoga, a workout designed to increase metabolism and tone muscles at the same time.

Avail & Company Will Make Custom Wedding Dresses

Evanston wedding dress shop Avail & Company held a ribbon-cutting grand opening ceremony on Oct. 17. Owners Rachel and Ted Alvia have been operating the business out of their home in Poplar Grove since 2005 and chose downtown Evanston for their first retail location. Rachel Alvia works with clients individually to create custom wedding dresses and other special occasion attire.

El Famous Burrito Plans October Opening on Dodge

The zoning board of appeals recently recommended approval of a special use permit for El Famous Burrito at 843 Dodge Ave. Owner Kathy Romero told Patch that the restaurant will specialize in casual, authentic Mexican fare and will offer a king size burrito as its signature dish.


Rick Bayless Live at Westfield Old Orchard

Perfect weather was just one of the winning ingredients for Rick Bayless' "fiesta." The event, which featured more than 300 guests, was held underneath a large tent at the parking lot of Westfield Old Orchard Mall on Aug. 28 and was just west of his restaurant, Frontera Fresco, inside Macy's.

Bayless, who lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter, was promoting his new book, Fiesta at Rick's, which advises readers how to prepare everything from cocktails such as sizzling mojitos to meals such as brava steak with lazy salsa.

Skokie Patch got a chance to catch up with Bayless and ask him about his new book, his restaurants and the perception of Mexican fine dinning.

Stars in Skokie: See other celebrities like Betty White and Glee's Jane Lynch.

Skokie Patch: Can you tell our readers what brings you to Skokie today?

Rick Bayless: I'm doing a demo here in the parking lot at Old Orchard. I've got a new book out and so I'm sharing some recipes from there.

SP: Can you tell us about your new book, Fiesta at Rick's? How did you come up with that idea?

Bayless: You know the food that I do is totally inspired by the cooking of the regional cooks of Mexico, and I love that — passionately. I love to share it with people, but when I share it with people in my home, it almost takes on a sort of different form. I'm not trying to do a museum quality recreation of somebody's dish from Mexico, but instead I'm trying to create something that I can share with the people that are around my table to sort of spark the whole feeling of a party.

That's something I learned in Mexico -- from the very first time I was there, when I was 14 -- was that this is the most hospitable culture. They love to put food out in front of people and that food then becomes the launching pad for a great time with the people you care about.

[In] this book, Fiesta at Rick's, all the photos are shot at my house, the big parties are at my house so that you get a real sense of how I put the food out, what kinds of flavors I think really are those springboard flavors to launch a party. It's the kind food that I cook, but it's all got the spirit and soul of Mexico.

SP: What's one of your favorite recipes from the book and why?

Bayless: I'm not a person that likes to pick favorites because I put together a book of my favorite recipes. So to single one thing out would be a disservice to the recipes and the book. But everyone loves to start a party with guacamole. And a lot of people expect it no matter what kind of party it is that there's going to be some guacamole to munch on while you're getting in the mood for that party.

So, there's a whole section in this book of different guacamole recipes. And I know a lot of people think guacamole is kind of one recipe but actually all avocados love to be paired with different kind of flavors. So I show you how to use everything from sun-dried tomatoes or pumpkin seeds to different kinds of fruit.

SP: I saw that you have a restaurant right here inside Macy's, Frontera Fresco, and that you'll be opening up two more restaurants at O'Hare airport. Why did you choose those locations as oppose to traditional places like a strip mall or even a food court? Those are unique locations that you're opening up at.

Bayless: We paired with Macy's a long time ago to bring some of the simpler flavors that we do to the setting of a department store. Basically, what we wanted to do was to show that even though most people expect [some] kind of fast food in places like that, where everything is processed and preformed and frozen, that we could actually do fresh food, but just do it simply.

So, we started off downtown [in Chicago] at the Macy's store, on the seventh floor where they have sort of a really nice food court there. And you know, it was just an instant success because people responded to the freshness. So, we opened one up here in Old Orchard and one in Union Square in San Francisco, and now we've decided to take that kind of thing into the airports because I think we can all safely say that O'Hare is kind of behind the times in really good food in an airport, and so we're going to try and remedy that problem.

SP: Do you think the perception of Mexican food or cuisine is different in other parts of the country? For example, when most people think of Mexican food, they think of cheap and fast where as you have three successful fine dinning restaurants. You think the perception here is different as oppose to other parts of the country?

Bayless: Chicago is really unique because if you're thinking about Mexican food in terms of the Southwest, which most Americans do, they think, 'Oh, if you want to get really good Mexican food you have to go to the Southwest.' That is a very specific style of food, it's Mexican-American and, yes, it's cheap – most of it is covered with cheese and it's kind of all-one-color-all-one-flavor, and that's the border cuisine that never really developed much in our country. People love it and it's great stuff and it has its place, but that's not the way people eat in Mexico.

Chicago has the second largest concentration of Mexicans of anywhere in the country. But it's all fairly recent immigration. So, what we had the opportunity to do, when my wife and I opened Frontera Grill 23 years ago, was to launch off the neighborhood places, the ma-and-pa places, the grandma cooking her famous mole from [Mexico] or somebody from Wahaca doing the street food style.

All of that gave Chicago a very different perspective of what Mexican food really is. We had no American-Mexican food to speak of in this town. So, we were able to launch right away into really great regional Mexican food and Chicago said, 'Bring it on.' And then we were able to take it the next level up and do fine-dinning Mexican food and people said, 'That's great. We're ready to go there with you.' Whereas in the Southwest, people kind of think they already know what the gamut of Mexican food is, and it's not fine dinning.


Breakfast: Waking Up to Bold Flavors and Healthy Fare

The breakfast segment continues to show impressive gains, with operators responding to consumers’ demands for bold flavors, healthful fare and portability. Mexican fare, such as breakfast tacos and burittos at Frontera Fresco at Northwestern University, is especially popular.

The breakfast segment continues to show impressive gains, with operators responding to consumers’ demands for bold flavors, healthful fare and portability.

In its report “The Breakfast Club: An Update on Morning Meal Trends,” Datassential unveils the top five fastest-growing breakfast items as yogurt, frittatas, oatmeal, burritos, and huevos rancheros. These trends, according to the report, reflect widespread sub-trends impacting the industry, especially at QSRs and mid-scale establishments.

• Frittatas represent the overall push toward more creative egg dishes
• Yogurt and oatmeal reflect the consumer’s desire for more healthful ingredients
• Burritos’ popularity demonstrates the portability factor
• Huevos rancheros reveals the embrace of Mexican flavorings

Menu Snapshot: Frontera Fresco
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Breakfast tacos and tortas from the hand of a celebrity chef greet the day at Frontera Fresco at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. It is the first campus location of the quickservice eatery created by Rick Bayless, who also owns three Frontera Fresco locations in retail stores as well as the popular Mexican restaurants Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco in Chicago.

“Bayless’ offerings really bring authenticity to regional Mexican cuisine,” says Steve Mangan, resident district manager for Sodexo at Northwestern, which operates the unit. “For us, it was kind of a no-brainer to explore the partnership.”

The breakfast tacos, made to-order with scrambled eggs on artisan corn tortillas, include fillings such as pork chorizo, poblano rajas, Chihuahua and Cotija cheeses, avocado and cilantro. Similar fillings go into the breakfast tortas, which are hot, pressed sandwiches similar to panini made on fresh artisan bakery rolls.

Items like those, along with an extensive lunch menu with additional tacos and tortas plus salads, quesadillas, Mexican flatbreads and a made-to-order guacamole bar, attract between 400 and 500 students per day, Mangan says.

In keeping with Bayless’ local and seasonal approach, ice cream is made with local organic milk, breads and tortillas are locally baked, meats come from Illinois and cheeses hail from Wisconsin. During the growing season, peppers, tomatoes and herbs are sourced from area farms as well.

“This is a really good match with Northwestern,” says Mangan. “We are all about culinary and expanding the local, fresh and seasonal organic products that we offer.”

Menu Sampler: Frontera Fresco
• Egg + Rajas Taco: Scrambled eggs, poblano rajas, Chihuahua cheese, avocado, queso Cotija, cilantro $3.50 single/$7.50 double
• Egg + Bacon Torta: Scrambled eggs, Nueske’s bacon, chipotle, Chihuahua cheese, avocado $6.95
• Jam + Queso Torta: Queso fresco, American Spoon Foods Fruit Perfect Jam. $4.95


Watch the video: Rick Bayless Officiallly Opens Frontera Fresco at Norris (August 2022).