If you ask a Chicagoan to point you in the direction of the city’s best authentic Mexican food, chances are you’ll end up at Frontera Grill on North Clark Street, digging into a dish imagined by chef de cuisine Richard James. For more than twenty years now, Richard has perfected and put his own spin on traditional Mexican dishes at Frontera Grill, starting as a grill cook and rising through the ranks to become one of the top chefs in Chicago.
For his meals, Richard uses fish from sustainable fisheries, meat and poultry from local artisanal farms, and fresh seasonal vegetables. His passion for responsibly-sourced ingredients was sparked not in his kitchen, but under water.
“I went to the Bahamas and snorkeled and I was amazed by the beauty and diverse nature of fish that were there,” Richard tells us. “I realized that we have to eat as humans but we don’t have to pillage natural habitats so that they can’t grow back or be sustainable. We have to protect the rights of Earth and respect the sea so that others can enjoy its bounty.”
Richard says he orders wild, domestic fish and shrimp for Frontera Grill not only to protect the planet and to support local fishing communities, but because sustainably-sourced seafood “just tastes better!” Plus, it makes his job easier. “Sea to Table is a reliable source of pertinent info and allows me to order willy nilly knowing that Sea to Table has done the background work to ensure the fish is sustainable. It has freed me up to be creative with the unique products I can get in.”
For home chefs still building the confidence to get creative in the kitchen, he recommends sautéing fish to bring out its flavor. “A quick sear is all it really needs.”