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Chef Rick Bayless launches program to help laid-off Chicago restaurant workers

Bayless will pay laid-off workers to make 30-pound boxes of food, including produce, bread and meat. The boxes will be available for pickup at restaurants throughout the city.

Chef Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo is among the James Beard Award nominees for 2017 outstanding restaurant. | Photo by Chandler West
Chef Rick Bayless has launched a relief program for out-of-work Chicago food industry workers.
Chandler West

Celebrity chef Rick Bayless has launched an effort to help restaurant workers who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the award-winning Chicago chef’s restaurants that’s currently closed, Frontera Grill, will host an operation paying laid-off workers to make 30-pound boxes of food, including produce, bread and meat. The boxes will be available for pickup at restaurants throughout the city.

“This project can touch the lives of many thousand displaced workers,” Bayless said in a news release.

The plan is to process 800 boxes each week. The effort is being funded by a $250,000 anonymous gift in partnership with US Foods, a Rosemont-based food distributor.

“We’re up against something unprecedented. It’s brought out the best in our teams and we want to make sure we can help our restaurant community as much as possible, but also go beyond our River North borders. Our partner restaurants are enthusiastically taking up the mantle so we can support as much of the city as we can,” Bayless said in a statement.

The program provides jobs for the workers packing the boxes, and much-needed pantry supplies/fresh food for unemployed restaurant workers.

Contributing: Miriam Di Nunzio, Sun-Times