Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award

Celebrating Achievement and Leadership


The Ambassador of Hospitality Award, sponsored by Ecolab, is the premiere award bestowed by the NRAEF to an individual who has exemplified extraordinary achievement and leadership in the restaurant and hospitality industry. The award is named for Thad and Alice Eure who generously gave their time and resources to serve their community and the hospitality industry.

2018 Ambassador of Hospitality Recipient

Rick Bayless

Frontera Restaurants, Chicago, IL


His journey from Oklahoma City to Chicago is one of intense study. He has authored nine highly regarded  cookbooks,  displays  a prodigious  passion  for authentic  Mexican  cuisine,  owns  an enviable stable of award-winning restaurants, has received a slew of James Beard Awards, spearheaded a popular public television series, MexicoOne Plate at A Time, and possesses an unwavering commitment to never resting on his laurels.

Along the way, Bayless has always given back to his industry, the community  and to those in need. As this year’s recipient  of the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador  of Hospitality  award, Bayless joins a roster of heavy hitters. “This award is bestowed  upon an individual  who has shown extraordinary  achievement  and exemplary leadership in the restaurant and hospitality industry, and I can think of no better candidate  than Rick Bayless to receive this prestigious award,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

In 2003, Chef Bayless launched the Frontera Farmer Foundation “to support small Midwestern farms.” Since then, the program has awarded 200 grants and more than $2 million.
Four years later, Bayless would once again raise the stakes with the creation  of the Frontera Scholarship. This scholarship program awards an annual full-tuition scholarship to public school students of Mexican-American  heritage to study culinary arts at Kendall College.

Bayless,  who  manages  to keep  up a dizzying  schedule,  has embarked  on developing  a new culinary training program for low-income residents of Chicago’s West Side. The program will train students for internships and careers in the city’s top restaurant groups.

As a member of the American Chef Corps, Bayless joined a group of culinarians the U.S. State
Department to promote use food as a diplomatic gap-bridging tool around the world.

Mexico’s  government  also  presented  Bayless  with  the  Mexican  Order  of  the  Aztec  Eagle— the highest recognition given to foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people. Bayless’ career trajectory has taken him to places few chefs could dream of, and undoubtedly his journey has miles to go.

Meet the 2018 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award recipient

Learn more about past winners