José Andrés: The Top Chef Who Has Served 350 Million Free Meals to The Needy.

Chiara Marando
Copertina jose andres 2024 03 01 14 36 31

Story of the chef nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and protagonist of major humanitarian initiatives to support people in war: let's get to know José Andrés better.


Cooking that goes beyond the plate and the recipe. Cooking that becomes a tool for action, dialogue, and awareness. Cooking that becomes the spokesperson of a bigger and more concrete message, becoming a project and aid for those in need. This is José Andrés' cooking, a two Michelin-starred chef capable of making his own restaurants great but, above all, of achieving something unique. So unique that it earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 (but about a month ago, in February, a proposal from US Democrats to the Norwegian Committee has once again brought attention to his role in humanitarian affairs, advocating for his nomination for the prize).

Jose Andres P Photo Jacquelyn Martin File
@AP Photo-Jacquelyn Martin

Yes, you read that right: the Nobel Peace Prize. Because Andrés sees in food not only creativity and nourishment, but also a powerful vehicle and tool for promoting change. It all started in 2010 when, following the tremendous earthquake that hit Haiti, he embarked on and realized an important project that is continuing to grow: the World Kitchen Center. “World Central Kitchen started with a simple idea at home with my wife Patricia: when people are hungry, send chefs. Not tomorrow, today,” explains the chef to the BBC. Already president of DC Central Kitchen, a non-profit in Washington DC, Andrés saw an opening to create an international organization focused on direct aid through food.

WCK Ukraine HumanitarianCrisis

“I'm a very impatient guy and I don't like to stand aside watching without doing anything,” he explains. “In Haiti, we saw devastation in a country already very poor, so I said, 'let me go, not so much to help, but to start learning,' and slowly I began to understand that will alone is not enough.” So, cooking alongside displaced families in a camp, he let himself be guided by the experience of each day. It wasn't just about feeding needy people, but rather about listening, learning, and cooking alongside them.

Jose Andres Saveur

Fourteen years have passed since then, and the World Kitchen Center has served more than 350 million meals worldwide, collaborating with organizations and activating a network of local restaurants, food transportation, and emergency kitchens. “The key to making a difference,” emphasizes Andrés, “is having the confidence to believe you can have a positive and tangible impact in a time of need, right where you are.” Thus, his kitchen has stepped out of the restaurant walls to contribute to high-impact goals. A unique storytelling that identifies him fully because, as he likes to emphasize, “I don't open restaurants, I tell stories. Each of my restaurants is a story.”

Jose Andres Gilbert CarrasquilloGC Images
@Gilbert Carasquillo

And for four decades now, his stories have captivated, characterizing realities like Jaleo and The Bazaar. Along his professional path are names like Ferran Adrià, but it's arriving in New York first, and then Washington DC, where his creative and entrepreneurial abilities take flight. “I was given a lot of credit for making Washington DC a force, and I did my part when I arrived, but this city was already extraordinary.”

 by Jose Andres

The truth, however, is that Andrés has made a significant contribution to the innovation of the culinary world. What sets him apart is his approach, a tendency that aims to reflect real life, bringing emotional experiences into each dish and leading the guest on a journey through countries, past and present, political and social situations. A stylistic mark? Definitely, but also almost a mission, starting from food to inspire and convey stories of lived life.

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