Since I’m in the US I thought I would break the mold a bit today and feature a non-Argie chef. José Andrés has been one of the most effective and popular voices of a movement to change the ways American view and treat food. Originally from Spain, Andrés trained under Ferran Adriá (who actually had fired him before) and has since launched a career that has included TV shows, books, numerous awards and a ton of restaurants. Most recently he was named “Outstanding Chef” of 2011 by the James Beard Foundation.
A passionate innovator, Andrés conveys this energy and love for food in all of his endeavors. Something I think is particularly awesome is his involvement with the DC Central Kitchen and other hunger-related causes. Just this past week farmers’ market patrons were invited to donate Thanksgiving-related food items for local food pantries and shelters. Those who participated were entitled to goodies from his tapas restaurant Jaleo.
His relocation to the US led him to introduce the American palate to authentic Spanish food and flavors. Jaleo was in fact the first tapas restaurant that was both commercially and critically lauded across the country. Since then, he has transformed the kitchen at Café Atlántico, opened up Mediterranean-inspired Zaytinya and Mexican spot Oyamel. minibar by josé andrés (tucked inside Café Atlántico) brought a bit of the culinary revolution to the DC food scene.
The food at all of his restaurants is to die for. I could eat at Zaytinya until I’m blue in the face, the menu at Jaleo makes you feel as though you’re in Barcelona, and the cocktails at Oyamel are nuts. If you’re in DC make sure to stop at one/all of them.
His fan base is huge, thanks in part to his insane Twitter account and close friendship with other “celebrity” chefs like Anthony Bourdain (who I obviously worship and drool over). He’s really got a knack for getting involved with his supporters in unique ways, and has also garnered a lot of critical acclaim for what he does, inside the kitchen or out.
José Andrés is an enthusiastic culinary ambassador who has brought a love of Spanish cuisine to the US and who has revolutionized the DC food scene. On top of creating amazing food, his dedication to important issues like food security, nutrition and hunger have resulted in some serious good deeds being done. As a DC native I feel proud that someone has managed to make my city cool again and who is also tackling the tough questions and issues that are making America a complicated place to live as well.