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Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012

Wayne Cornelius, Deborah Szekely, Rick Bayless receive Order of Aztec Eagle

     rick bayless arturo sarukhan deborah szekely wayne cornelius Mexico researcher Wayne Cornelius, philanthropist and spa founder Deborah Szekely and chef Rick Bayless were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle on Wednesday by Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan in Washington.

     All have San Diego-Baja California connections: Cornelius helped found the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego; Szekely founded the Rancho La Puerta spa in Tecate and the Golden Door Spa in Escondido; Bayless, host of the cooking show "Mexico – One Plate at a Time," has filmed shows in Baja California. He also visited the state in July (PDF).

     The Order of the Aztec Eagle is the highest honor that the Mexican government bestows on non-Mexicans.

Photo, from left: Rick Bayless, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, Deborah Szekely and Wayne Cornelius. Photo courtesy of Mexican Embassy.

     Sarukhan noted that Bayless had prepared the White House state dinner for President Calderón in May 2010. Sarukhan added: "I believe it is fair to say that, almost singlehandedly changing the image of Mexican food in the U.S., Bayless helped ascribe to our culinary heritage the prestige and appreciation it deserves as a fine cuisine, on par with the European greats."

     Of Szekely, Sarukhan said: "Time and time again, she has consistently demonstrated her commitment to those causes funding numerous initiatives in education and health, and establishing several NGO’s that play a significant role today in improving the lives of people in the California-Baja California border region.... And with Mrs. Szekely as a President and CEO, the Inter-American Foundation in Washington became a successful catalyst of change, through micro-financing and grass roots development throughout Latin America and the Caribbean."

     Of Cornelius, Sarukhan said: "His institution-building efforts at UCSD have materialized in the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies through which Mexico has enjoyed a preeminent beachhead at the University of California.... During his long-standing teaching career he has trained a plethora of experts on Mexico and many diplomats of the Mexican Foreign Service."

The full text of Sarukhan's remarks.

Previous story on the awardees.

Update: UCSD will be holding a conference on Cornelius on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

o prepare the State Dinner offered by the White House to President Calderón during his State visit to Washington in May 2010.

I believe it is fair to say that, almost singlehandedly changing the image of Mexican food in the U.S., Bayless helped ascribe to our culinary heritage the prestige and appreciation it deserves as a fine cuisine, on par with the European greats.