Well, let's see... I would have to say it all started back in '72. That was the year I was born. Grew up in sunny San Diego, and ended up spending the first 23 years of my life there. I could describe them, but I would bore you to tears, so we'll just leave it at that. I attended San Diego State University, and worked as graphic designer extraordinaire for Woodstock's pizza, where I continually drew little dragons (the mascot of Woodstock's), until I accidentally graduated from school.
My parents were my first restaurant mentors. At the Hickory House, our family's barbeque restaurant in Oklahoma City, they made sure I recognized the importance of freshness. Freshness of the food, of the look of the place, of the staff. They taught me that a restaurant needs to look like it's just opened, while giving the impression that it's been there forever. Constant change, growth and improvement were their freshness secrets, and I've striven to walk in their footsteps: Frontera in 1987, Topolobampo in 1989, a daughter in 1991, Zinfandel Restaurant in 1993, a new book and product line in 1996, and a new, improved, expanded Topolobampo and bar area in 1997. That last one might sound like enough to tackle in one year, but it hasn't been my greatest challenge. My garden has. -Rick Bayless