The OK Chefs Relief movement takes its next major leap on Monday with celebrity chef Rick Bayless’s pop-up explosion. Two of the three pop-ups are completely booked, but tickets for the third leg are still available and can be purchased starting Monday morning at 9 a.m.
If you want to take part in the first incarnation of Bayless’ triple play, call Mary Pointer at UMB bank at 239-5936 to purchase with a credit card or swing by the downtown UMB branch across the street from Leadership Square to make the mandatory $10 donation in cash. That donation will not only entitle you to lunch from the Xoco pop-up but also a raffle ticket that gives you a chance at two tickets to Monday’s sold-out Topolobampo event, worth $1,000. No one will be served without a raffle ticket. The Xoco event will be in the east Pavilion of Leadership Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bayless will be in attendance with help on the grill from local chefs led by Jonathon Stranger and Joshua Valentine, who will serve three tacos and a drink to attendees.
The chefs’ goal is to feed at least 500 donors, and if response to the evening events is any indicator, that goal should be reached with ease. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma for the tornado relief effort.
Bayless was born and raised in Oklahoma City, learning the restaurant business in his parents barbecue restaurant, the Hickory House. Rick ran the catering while in high school at Northwest Classen. Bayless is also a University of Oklahoma graduate.
When Bayless heard Stranger, Kurt Fleischfresser, Marc Dunham and a host of other local chefs would join New York City/San Francisco chef Danny Bowien, who grew up in Oklahoma City and graduate from Westmoore, for a two-day pop-up event to raise money for tornado recovery, he reached out and very nearly joined the first OK Chefs Relief pop-up. But it was decided they could raise more money with a second event.
The first event raised close to $80,000 in two days, and with all 20 $1,000 Topolobampo tickets sold and all 240 $60 Frontera tickets sold, OK Chefs Relief may well top $150,000 once the $10 Xoco donations are made. All the ticket and donation prices are suggested, and most of the attendees have given more than the minimum.
The city will make a proclamation that Monday officially be known as Rick Bayless Day in Oklahoma City at the Xoco event to show its thanks for the celebrity chef diverting his plans at the Food and Wine Show in Aspen, Colo., to raise money for those in his home state.
Since leaving the Sooner state, Bayless has built a long, celebrated career specializing in the flavors of Mexico. He’s published nine cookbooks and hosted 26 episodes of “Cooking Mexican” and more than 100 episodes over eight seasons of “Mexico: One Plate at a Time” on public television. The pop-ups reflect his three main restaurants: Frontera Grill, Topolobampo or Xoco in Chicago. He also has a few fast-casual niche concepts in Greater Chicago. He was also the first-ever “Top Chef Masters” champion.
Though he’s now a Chicagoan, Bayless is still an Okie at heart. His mother, Levita Anderson, still lives in town as does his sister, who is a special education teacher. Rick’s brother Skip is known for stirring up controversy on ESPN’s “First Take.”