Inspired by the generosity of spirit that is characteristic of Mexican culture, we share a generous, caring spirit with our guests, with each other and with our suppliers.
We hail from spectacularly different walks of life. We are women. We are Mexican, Filipino, Singaporean, Guatemalan, Midwestern. We are fathers, sons and husbands. We are artists and mothers and bakers and beekeepers. We are teachers and students. We are immigrants. We love to eat. We love to cook. We love getting things just right.
We love to share the gifts of Mexico with you.
The challenge issued to Jill in 2001 was brief but not simple: break the beer and margarita mold. Since then she’s traveled to the world’s best wine regions and industry summits, always returning with a wealth of knowledge (and some seriously great wine) to compliment our Mexican menus. Dining critics call her picks “unerring” and “spot-on.” Jill just calls them another fun day at work.
Lanie Bayless wasn’t technically born in our restaurants, but she was definitely raised in them.
After spending many years in working some of New York City’s best hospitality groups and culinary organizations (while pursuing her many other interests), Lanie rejoined the Frontera family in 2016 with the opening of Leña Brava and loves being back in Chicago, where she lives with her husband, Kevin Sullivan.
Her many trips to Oaxaca (her favorite place in the world!) inspired her love of all things mezcal, and eventually led her to role as spirits director for Frontera restaurants, where she develops all of those killer cocktails on our menus.
I’m the Media Director for Chef Rick Bayless and his world-class restaurants in Chicago. What does that mean? A whole lot on any given day. Some days it’s about media relations, including pitching stories and having them placed in local and national media. Other days, it’s about social media, or managing special projects and partnerships, including Impact Culinary Training and the Frontera Farmer Foundation.
FRONTERA GRILL & TOPOLOBAMPO
In between Zach’s Frontera stints— he’s the former private event chef at Frontera Grill and Topolo (and the man behind the dinner theater kitchen during the Rick Bayless production of “Cascabel”)— he served as sous chef at two of Chicago’s best French restaurants. Now back at Topolo, Zach says his “soul has always belonged to the fresh flavors of Mexico.”
I’m from the lovely town of Evanston, IL, and have lived in Chicago for many years now after spending some time in Seattle. I have had the privilege of working at Topolobampo for close to 15 years now! In my free time I love to travel, always exploring the unique foods and history of the places I go. I also love seeing live theater and live music, so Chicago keeps me quite busy — always something new to discover! Most of all, I love to surround myself with the positivity of my wonderful friends and family.
Richard has been cooking at Frontera Grill for longer than he can remember (though we’re pretty sure he started here in 1993). In that time he’s moved from grill cook to sous chef, then to chef de cuisine. Along the way he also dated—and then married—a coworker and mastered the art of addictive enfrijoladas.
I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Chicago has been my home since 2009 when I moved here to attend Columbia College. I have been lucky enough to be a part of awesome teams here in Chicago, from Molly’s Cupcake to Mindy’s Hot Chocolate and Next before joining the team at Frontera. Working here combines all of my passions under one roof: food, creativity. education, and genuine hospitality.
Thanks to an after-school cooking class, Jennifer knew from a young age that she wanted to be a pastry chef. After attending Washburne Culinary Institute, she interned at Blackbird and then landed with the Frontera family, where she continues to dazzle with after-dinner delights.
Rishi’s journey to Bar Sótano begins in Singapore, where a night out eating Mexican food was indeed a rare treat. Those new flavors were enough to spark his culinary curiosity, and he set off to work in high-end kitchens in the south of France. After graduating from the CIA Singapore and interning at Frontera, he’s led our private events team and now heads up the kitchen in our basement bar.
Kristopher started helping out in his family’s restaurant in the Philippines at a young age. In Chicago, he earned a culinary degree from the Art Institute and worked for Chef Takashi. Now, he’s a inspirational tour de force at Xoco.
At Xoco, Maria found two of her life’s great loves: her husband Baker and amazing Mexican food. Maria started working here in 2009 and took over as manager in 2016.