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In The Daily Meal Kitchen with Jose Andres

In The Daily Meal Kitchen with Jose Andres

Andrés, who moves a mile a minute, is never happier than when he’s feeding a room full of people

Aurelie Jouan

The chef's menu for the evening features inspiration from Spain, Greece, Japan, and Philadelphia, not to mention the ocean itself.

In the Kitchen With José Andrés

Aurelie Jouan

The chef's menu for the evening features inspiration from Spain, Greece, Japan, and Philadelphia, not to mention the ocean itself.

Chef Andrés Gets Ready for His Cooking Demonstration

Aurelie Jouan

The demo, a sea urchin and dashi sphere, contains the whole of the chef's memories of Hokkaido, Japan.

Sea Urchin and Dashi Sphere

The chef's completed sea urchin and dashi sphere, an homage to his time in Japan.

In the Kitchen With José Andrés

Aurelie Jouan

José Andrés with Aja and Christopher Koenig

The Bagel and Lox Cone

Aurelie Jouan

To start, Andrés serves a tray of his bagel and lox cone with dill cream cheese and salmon roe.

The Beet Gazpacho

Aurelie Jouan

Don't be fooled by this macaron — this is the chef's beet gazpacho with goat cheese and pistachio.

Greek Pizza

Aurelie Jouan

The chef's Greek pizza — with taramasalata, fennel, avogataraho, and micro basil — was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The Chef Discusses His Biggest Influences

Aurelie Jouan

“I think all of us are the sum of who we have known in life, and I am what I am in part because I met this guy, Ferran Adrià.”

Philly Cheese Steak

Aurelie Jouan

The team gets ready to serve Andrés’ Philly cheese steak — cheese espuma, Kobe beef, caramelized onion, and truffle.

The Pomegranate Margarita

Aurelie Jouan

The chef’s pomegranate margarita topped with sea foam was inspired by a dislike for salt on the rim. Without any salt, however, the chef found that a margarita was like “going on a date with yourself.”

In the Kitchen With José Andrés

Aurelie Jouan

JP Kryillos, President of The Daily Meal with José Andrés and Jenna Llewellyn from Digitas - KitchenAid.

José Andrés at The Daily Meal

Aurelie Jouan

Chef Andrés in The Daily Meal's kitchen.

José Andrés with Guests

Aurelie Jouan

From left to right: Scott Feldman, owner of Two Twelve Managment & Marketing; Katrin Naelapaa, Director of Wines from Spain; and Phillip Baltz of Baltz & Company, Inc. with José Andrés.

Chef Jose Andres' WCK bolsters The Tandem's mission to feed those in need

A funding partnership with World Central Kitchen will be a game changer for The Tandem and its mission to nourish the community while providing a source of revenue for locally owned restaurants.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday life, but it doesn't need to change who we are. So, in addition to our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus, OnMilwaukee will continue to report on cool, fun, inspiring and strange stories from our city and beyond. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed and stay joyful. We're all in this together. #InThisTogetherMKE

Caitlin Cullen, chef and owner of The Tandem, 1848 W. Fond du Lac Ave., was slightly out of breath as she answered a call from me in the early evening on Tuesday, April 21. But her voice didn&rsquot harbor the worry or exhaustion I&rsquove heard in it during other phone conversations in the preceding weeks. Instead, it was filled with hope.

Earlier in the day, she&rsquod received a package filled with swag from World Central Kitchen (WCK), an organization founded by Chef José Andrés which uses a variety of programs to leverage the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies during times of crisis and beyond.

The package, which included a sign, some t-shirts and other paraphernalia, was the icing on the cake for a funding partnership which will allow The Tandem to continue their free community meals program in a more sustainable way.

José Andrés

José Andrés is one of the most active proponents of Spanish gastronomy, yet he is thousands of miles from his home country. Spain and its culinary culture are now more familiar to the US public thanks to the efforts and determination of this great fan of cuisine "made in Spain". He never stops working, drawing up new projects and implementing them, his main aim being to take the quality, flavor and spirit of Spanish traditional and avant-garde cooking to the US.

When asked, José Andrés never misses an opportunity to mention the name of his maestro, Ferran Adrià, a chef he looks up to and considers a good friend. Andrés was born in Asturias on the northern coast of Spain but studied catering in Barcelona. That was where he began to work professionally as a chef: first in the restaurant owned by Jean Louis Neichel, then at elBulli, both of which instilled in him their professionalism and creativity.

Jaleo, his springboard to success

On arrival in the US, his advisor was Carmelo Bocos, El Cid restaurant in New York. He explained what a good Spanish tapas restaurant on American soil should offer.  Then he made it to DC to work with Rob wilder and Roberto Alvarez’s Proximo restaurants. Heading up the kitchen at Jaleo, he helped create one of the first critically and commercially successful tapas restaurants in the country, setting the standard for other Spanish and small plate restaurants to follow. Mediterranean-inspired Zaytinya followed soon after and then Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. In 2003 he opened his innovative minibar by josé andrés. In 2006, José and Rob transformed Proximo restaurants into ThinkFoodGroup.

In late 2007, he signed a contract with SBE Hotel Group and designer Philippe Starck to launch SLS Hotels, a hotel chain in which he takes responsibility for the food and catering, with Spanish gastronomy playing a leading role, including the signature destination restaurant The Bazaar by José Andrés. The intimate chef’s tasting room, Saam, inside the Bazaar in Beverly Hills, was also named a Top Ten Most Memorable Dining Experience by the LA Times food critic. The second outpost of the SLS Hotel made its debut in Miami’s South Beach in 2012.

Living Las Vegas

His next stop was Las Vegas, where in 2010 he opened three premises in The Cosmopolitan Hotel. As well as a new branch of his famous Jaleo, José Andrés has amazed gourmet fans by opening é by José Andrés, a premises with only 8 seats where you can try a menu consisting of 15-20 dishes featuring imported products, the majority of which are Spanish. And if that wasn't enough, he has also opened China Poblano in Las Vegas, where the menu combines Chinese and Mexican food. After promoting and showing Spanish cuisine to US foodies, he embraced the culture of American diversity opening restaurants outside his native comfort zone, launching a pop-up restaurant, America Eats Tavern, in conjunction with What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?, an exhibit at the National Archives (June 10, 2011- January 3, 2012).

José Andrés had been toying with an idea for some years: take advantage of the popularity of street food in America to present fresh produce, cheeses and sausages from Spain to pedestrians in Washington DC. Starting March 2012, those who visit Pepe, the name of this food truck, may choose a variety of sandwiches including the Butifarra Burger (Spanish pork burger with alioli and brava sauce), Escalivada, Pepito de Ibérico (seared Ibérico pork and Serrano ham with roasted green peppers, caramelized onions and alioli), or Spanish Grilled Cheese (Manchego, Murcia, Valdeón, Membrillo and fresh goat cheese).

Projects beyond the kitchen

José Andrés’s drive to teach the US about Spanish products reached one of its peaks when he travelled all round Spain filming a series of 26 programs, broadcast in 2008 and 2009, showing landscapes, recipes and typical products for the viewers of the PBS TV channel. The list of ingredients that are always available at his restaurants includes La Serena cheese, pimentón and Cabrales blue cheese although, in his opinion, garlic and onions are the prima donnas of Spanish gastronomy. His favorite dishes include Bacalao ajoarriero (salt cod in a tomato and red pepper sauce) and the gazpacho made by his Andalusian wife Patricia.

José Andrés, who received recognition in 2006 from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington as Chef of the Year, is one of the managers of the DC Central Kitchen foundation which offers culinary job training to homeless and low-income people. As a frequent visitor of the White House, he is also a supporter of First Lady Michelle Obama´s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign for which he has held healthy cooking demonstrations.

In November of 2010, Spain’s Ministry of Culture recognized José with the prestigious Order of Arts and Letter medallion, honoring his efforts to promote Spanish culture abroad. Monday 9th May 2011 he won the James Beard Award for outstanding US chef, one of the most prestigious awards a chef based in the United States can receive. And in September 2013, José was awarded the Hispanic Heritage Award by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation making him the first chef in the history of the awards to be recognized.

One of his last projects to become real has been José Andrés Foods, owned by him and his ThinkFoodGroup. José Andrés Foods brings a hand-selected assortment of Spanish culinary products to the American marketplace, focusing on top artisanal producers who use only the best of the land and sea.

In 2015 José Andrés revealed a new restaurant concept in Washington DC. It is called Beefsteak, and is focused on fresh vegetables. Beefsteak isn’t vegetarian, though its food proudly celebrates the unsung power of vegetables — as farm-fresh as possible, whether year-round favorites or the best of each season. Deliciously matched with hearty grains, freshly-made sauces, crisp greens, and flavorful toppings.

In 2017 this Spanish-born US-based chef José Andrés announced that he had has sealed the deal on a massive, 35,000 square foot space at 10 Hudson Yards, located just under the High Line (at 30th Street and 10th Avenue), to be opened late 2018. The food hall will be modeled after Eataly, but it will offer more and will feature Spanish food, running the gamut from formal options to tapas to wine bars. It will be loosely based on La Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous market.  The chef is collaborating with Ferran and Albert Adrià to create a groundbreaking venue that will be a Spanish food-lover’s dream. This is the Adria brothers’ first project in the US, and Andrés’s 27th.

In 2018 Spanish chef Jose Andrés has been nominated for the ultimate distinction: the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019. He was officially nominated by Democratic Congressman John Delaney.

According to the Washington Post, Delaney said that “ Because of Mr. Andrés’s work, millions of people have been fed… This is the most basic human need and Mr. Andrés has proven to be world-class in this essential humanitarian field. With an incredible spirit and an innovative mind, Mr. Andrés is solving one of the world’s ancient problems and supplying world leaders with a new road map to provide more effective disaster relief in the future.”


At the helm of The Daily Meal's number one venue, Epicure, is chef Eric Fréchon, known for his classic dishes, such as the poulet de Bresse en vessie - a chicken with black truffles stuffed under its skin, wrapped in a pig's bladder - and signature blue lobster.

While at number two is Blumenthal's eatery at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, following the success of The Fat Duck.

On the menu includes a spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes, roast halibut, and an apple, rose and fennel tart.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is ranked second by The Daily Meal

Blumenthal's Dinner features a wide range of recipes from England's rich culinary past. Pictured: the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London

Among Blumenthal's more daring Dinner dishes is a spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes - circa 1780


1. Epicure at Le Bristol (Paris)

2. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel (London)

3. Le Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris (Monte Carlo)

4. Il Palagio at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze (Florence)

5. The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel (Beverly Hills)

6. Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel & Tower (New York City)

7. Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (Grand Cayman)

8. Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons Restaurant at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (Great Milton, UK)

9. e by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Las Vegas)

10. El Motel Restaurant at Hotel Emporda (Figueres, Spain)

French chef, Alain Ducasse, scoops third place in the annual list with his Mediterranean-inspired Le Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

In Florence, Il Palagio at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is ranked at number four - which is a first among Italian hotel restaurants.

Executive Chef Vito Mollica and his team use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create authentic Italian cuisine, like his signature Cavatelli pasta with red prawns and marinated baby squids - it was named Dish Of The Year in restaurant guide, Guida Ristoranti Espresso 2013.

Spanish-American chef Jose Andres, often credited for bringing the small plates dining trend to America, makes many an appearance on this list and is the only chef to have two properties listed in the top 10.

The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills takes the fifth spot, while e by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas comes in at number nine.

The second American hotel restaurant to be mentioned is Jean Georges' signature restaurant, Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City, which comes in sixth on the list.

José Andrés' World Central Kitchen Travels to Feed Those in Need—And You Can, Too

It's 6 a.m. on New Year's Eve and I'm in my car, speeding past San Diego on the I-5 toward Tijuana. It’s not the New Year’s Eve I’d planned on, both in event and, well, location: A childhood spent just three hours’ north in Los Angeles had primed me to rule out Mexico’s notoriously dangerous border town as a destination, yet there I was, heading straight towards it. And all it had taken to get me in my car was a text from a friend the day after Christmas, saying he was cooking for the refugee caravan in Tijuana and needed volunteer backup. "If I'm cooking, we need help," heɽ texted.

Help was—and is—needed: Since November, some 7,000 Central Americans have been sheltered at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, seeking asylum in the U.S. and awaiting news on their refugee status. In response, celebrity chef José Andrés' disaster relief organization World Central Kitchen set up shop, and has been serving meals in Tijuana for more than two months.

Andrés, a chef who was previously best known for bringing tapas to the U.S., first kicked off the World Central Kitchen concept when he assembled a group of fellow chefs to serve meals to Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico two years ago. Since then, the organization has grown significantly, evolving from Andres' chef friends to a collection of travelers, perennial do-gooders, and just about anyone else willing to help. In the past two years, they’ve dished out millions of meals around the globe in the wake of various disasters: in Guatemala following 2018's Volcán de Fuego eruption, and Northern California after the deadly Camp Fire this past fall (work for this has earned Andrés a Nobel Peace Price nomination). A new operation usually kicks off after Andrés reads the latest news, spots an opportunity to help, and—after a quick huddle with his executive team—shoots out a tweet to the world announcing where they're going next. His mobile, full-time team moves and assembles wherever needed, pulling in dozens of volunteers as back-up. The friend who recruited me, Josh, an avid traveler and active humanitarian I met on a trip to Colombia earlier in the year, is one of them.

A few days after his message, there I was, in the kitchen of a closed-down taqueria in Tijuana's Zona Norte, part of an assembly line up to our elbows in a Spanish-inspired ham and potato salad. (Enough potato salad, specifically, to serve some 1,700 lunches.) Every day, the six or so full-time staffers—supported by a rotating mix of 20-odd volunteers—receive head-counts from local shelters housing members of the caravan, and organize the volunteer force to prepare as many lunches, then dinners, as needed. In the kitchen, which is always run by one of the professional chefs in the group, you might overhear things like, "I want sexy sauce swirls, people—make these sandwiches look nice!" from current head chef Shannon Dawson-Neubauer or you might catch her running through the day's menu, wondering out loud if we could ditch the cabbage for a green with more nutrition—"kale, maybe?"

The kitchen operation, which gives laymen a glimpse into, well, a real kitchen, was run with care and consideration. Designated staffers make regular runs to restaurant supply stores, picking up ingredients in bulk. Everyone in the kitchen, experienced or not, is given an assignment: some are on potato duty, cooking and chopping others are prepping the bed of slaw that serves as a base for the potato salad, while the rest split supporting roles like dishes, plating, and final seasoning. Everyone has a purpose, and even though the short-term mission was to perform our given task (quickly) and follow the recipe (precisely), the greater goal kept everyone hustling.

Review: Latest Next menu is a heartfelt salute to chef José Andrés

José Andrés is an award-winning chef and restaurateur whose disaster-relief efforts have earned him the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award and a nomination for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (the announcement will be made Oct. 11).

A fine target for a culinary homage, in other words, inasmuch as previous Next menus have honored the early-1900s work of Auguste Escoffier, Ferran Adria’s late El Bulli restaurant and Marcus Gavius Apicius’ recipes from ancient Rome. The challenge in saluting Andrés, however, is that all his restaurants are ongoing concerns capturing a single moment in Andrés’ career arc would be difficult, and likely capricious.

Instead, chefs Grant Achatz and Edgar Tinoco chose the theme “The Best of José Andrés,” a menu that traces the chef’s career from his northern-Spain origins to his present-day restaurant empire in the United States. The menu is a pastiche of the chef’s most notable creations, an edible travelogue with stops in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami Beach and even Disney World.

First up: Jaleo, for an array of tapas including the fanciful José’s taco (a thin strip of jamon Iberico topped with golden osetra caviar), pan con tomate with still more jamon Iberico, and crispy bread topped with sea urchin and lardo. There are chicken and bechamel croquetas, served in a clear plastic sneaker (there’s an Andres childhood-memory backstory to that dish), and, in a slight detour to minibar restaurant, triangles of “pizza” with a Parmesan and edible-paper crust topped by matsutake mushrooms, black truffle and burrata. The pizza slices arrive on a melamine plate that looks like a paper plate, with a dusting of chile flakes to complete the visual joke.

Putting Spain Back in Spanish Food

IT seems an impossible dream, if not the one that the Man of La Mancha crooned onstage. But here it goes: Over the next decade, dozens of American cooks schooled in the authentic cooking of Spain and trained in Spanish restaurants will begin to populate the United States. In due time, hundreds, then thousands, will serve up a cuisine that is not Mexican, or Caribbean, or Latin American, but one faithful to Spain. Not only will they staff a national roster of credibly Spanish restaurants, but they will go on to create new ones. Ultimately, that will ramp up American demand for the wine and products of Spain.

To that end, the dreamer himself — not Don Quixote, but José Andrés, the best-known Spanish chef working in America — was cooking an egg in a culinary-school kitchen. He tipped a heated pan of olive oil and swirled the white as it coalesced around a gleaming yellow yolk. It echoed a classic Diego Velázquez painting from the early 17th century, “Old Woman Cooking Eggs.”

“It is Velázquez, it could not be more Spanish, and it is simple,” said Mr. Andrés, who has become the dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan. “Everyone thinks that Spanish technique is complicated, but it is really about simplicity, and that is exactly what we must teach.”

It was his passion for the cuisine of his homeland that led Mr. Andrés to suggest that the culinary center create a program that immerses future professionals in the cooking and language of Spain.

The course’s subagenda, to bring Spanish products more into the American mainstream, has never been more necessary. For even though Spain’s reputation for gastro chic continues to swell, thanks to the renown of Ferran Adrià and other chefs of the cocina de vanguardia, as the new Spanish cuisine is called, European austerity measures have brought on a culinary crisis in Spain. The unemployment rate there is 24 percent, the highest in Europe, and some 12,000 restaurants have gone out of business since 2008.

To Mr. Andrés, the new curriculum is nothing less than a show of faith in the future of Spanish cooking. “It may be thought of as fashionable now,” he said, “but it’s not some fad. It is here to stay.”

Mr. Andrés, who is 43 and owns 14 restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington (where he is based, and where he also owns a food truck named Pepe), has long wanted to foster a Spanish cooking school. He approached the culinary center’s founder and chief executive, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, whom he has known since the 1990s, during the James Beard Awards in May last year. “He told me, ‘We have to do a Spanish school,’ ” Ms. Hamilton recalled, adding that he said, “ ‘I’m sorry Italy got to you first.’ ” (Once known as the French Culinary Institute for its classical French kitchen instruction, the center added an Italian cooking program five years ago.)

To conceptualize with them, and to create the nuts and bolts of a Spanish curriculum, which was approved by the New York State Education Department in July after a two-month review, Mr. Andrés and Ms. Hamilton turned to Colman Andrews, a founder of Saveur magazine. Mr. Andrews was not only the biographer of Mr. Adrià, but also the author of the Spanish cooking canon “Catalan Cuisine,” published in 1988.

Much of the Spanish food in the United States has long been inauthentic, “a mélange of many cultures — Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Portuguese,” said Mr. Andrews, who is the editorial director of the food Web site The Daily Meal. “But this curriculum takes Spanish cuisine back to its roots.”

Mr. Andrews said that vast waves of French, Italian and Latin American immigrants over two centuries had given primary attention to their cuisines. Spanish food in the United States was so underrepresented, he said, that many Spanish people in the United States opened Italian restaurants, like Jean León, who in 1956 opened the famed hangout La Scala with the actor James Dean in Beverly Hills, Calif.

With baseball paused, the Nationals and José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen hustle to feed the needy

If there weren’t a deadly virus making the rounds, the Washington Nationals would have been wrapping up a home series with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, with a World Series banner flapping in the breeze somewhere in the outfield bleachers. Fans would have been lined up at concessions stands, waiting on their chili dogs and Shack burgers with a cold beer in hand. Life would’ve been grand in the nation’s capital.

But there is a deadly virus making the rounds, and because of it, Nationals Park has been converted into a food production and distribution facility to feed the needy. The baseball team and its philanthropic arm, Nationals Philanthropies, have partnered with World Central Kitchen to prepare thousands of meals a day, which are being distributed to seniors and hard-hit families, residents of public housing in the Navy Yard and Southwest Waterfront communities, and people who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Fort Dupont.

Neither the Nationals nor WCK are strangers to feeding the hungry. The club, working with the nonprofit group Nourish Now, has been distributing food at the end of every homestand to local low-income families. But the powerhouse in this partnership is WCK, the organization founded by humanitarian chef José Andrés, which is, at present, serving 100,000 meals a day in 30 cities across the country as millions of Americans find themselves out of work, and their children out of school, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“José has been talking about this for a long time now,” said Nate Mook, chief executive of WCK, during a phone interview with The Washington Post. “José has spoken very publicly around how sporting arenas — Nats Park, Capital One Arena — they’re not actually buildings for sports, but they are giant restaurants with entertainment.”

World Central Kitchen demonstrated the importance of activating sports venues in Puerto Rico in 2017, after Hurricane Maria tore apart the U.S. territory. After some wrangling with local officials on the island, WCK was able to cook out of the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, which served as the primary production facility in feeding thousands of people left without food and electricity after the storm.

Getting access to Nationals Park was much easier. Mook said the Lerner family, majority owner of the Nats, as well as Events DC, the District’s convention and sports authority, were all supportive of the project, lending the use of the stadium. Both the Nationals and their concessions partner, Levy Restaurants, are also contributing staff to the effort. But there are some limitations: The crews can’t walk on the field, which the team still hopes to use for games this season, and the park is not open to the public for meal pickup. The operation is purely a production and distribution operation, Mook said.

WCK had been working out of the ThinkFoodGroup’s test kitchen — previously used for the Chefs for Feds relief program when the U.S. government was partially shutdown last year — to feed the hungry during the coronavirus outbreak. But because of the protocols required to confront a pandemic — social distancing between workers, packaging each meal individually — the smaller crew could produce only about 4,000 meals a day in the test kitchen on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Mook said.

Executives with WCK and the Nationals “did a few tours of [Nationals Park], just to make sure how the logistics would operate, and kind of came up with a plan of how they would migrate from their existing operation, which was bursting at the seams, over here to the ballpark,” said Jonathan Stahl, vice president of hospitality and guest experience for the Nationals.

There are anywhere between 30 and 75 people working at the park to produce and distribute food. They’re mostly working out of a single, large-scale kitchen, cranking out between 4,500 and 5,000 meals a day, including dishes such as oven-roasted turkey, beef fajitas and fish and coconut curry. But Mook said the operation can, with additional staff and funding, easily produce 50,000 meals a day. Most of the individually packaged meals are headed to distribution centers in highly impacted communities, but the crews at Nationals Park are also producing food for nonprofit groups, such as Miriam’s Kitchen and Dreaming Out Loud, as well as for hospital workers and first responders.

Food and staff safety have been high priorities. WCK has fine-tuned its safety protocols in the weeks since the group started serving meals to the quarantined staff and passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, Mook said. Masks, gloves, hand-washing, social distancing, sanitation and temperature checks of staff are all part of the daily routine.

When Americans think of superstar chef José Andrés, most envision him either decked out in a stained, worn out vest, cooking and feeding thousands of victims of natural disasters in places like the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, or Haiti, or in his kitchen whites opening some hotly-anticipated new restaurant in his native Washington, D.C., New York, or Las Vegas.

This week, however, Andrés put all that aside to judge a student science fair at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and to join food science writer Harold McGee in marking the 10 th anniversary of the popular Science + Cooking course and lecture series. McGee’s essential bible, “On Food and Cooking” became the course textbook, and both men have been instrumental in the program’s success.

The course sprang unexpectedly from a 2008 Harvard visit by the legendary Ferran Adrià, whose groundbreaking, three-Michelin-star restaurant in Spain, El Bulli, helped inspire the molecular gastronomy trend, which was then a new, experimental approach to cooking that bucked tradition and conventional wisdom. Adrià spoke to physics students about what was still a novelty in kitchens and in classrooms: the science that underpins cooking. The talk proved so popular and inspirational that SEAS faculty David Weitz and Michael Brenner turned it into an undergraduate Gen Ed course featuring guest lectures by world-renowned chefs. Adrià and Andrés, who worked under Adrià early in his career, led the very first lecture in September 2010.

It was at El Bulli where Andrés said he first saw how exciting and necessary it was to understand the science of food.

“We began asking ourselves the bigger questions. Not only how to do the things … we started asking ourselves the why of the things that happened, and out of learning and out of the answers … we became so much more powerful because we had knowledge we never had before,” he said during his talk Monday.

Andrés, who is also involved in immigration-reform advocacy, is clearly a person drawn to bigger questions.

During an interview with the Gazette, Andrés said that he remains closely involved with Harvard, despite a punishing schedule that includes opening Mercado Little Spain with Adrià and brother Albert Adrià, which The New York Times just called the city’s top new restaurant of 2019, because he believes in fostering the dialogue between the culinary and scientific worlds, but also because it’s important for students to see how food is connected to so many other realms from national security, the law and public policy, to public health, medicine, climate, history, and even moral philosophy.

“You almost need an understanding of each sector to try to end some of the bigger problems of the world,” he said. If today’s students are to take on these issues, they need to see how it all fits together. “So that’s why we’ve been coming back, because it’s important to invest in that future.”

Because food is so integral to daily life and is also a lens through which many of the biggest issues of our time can be understood, Andrés hopes one day to convince an academic institution such as Harvard to convene scholars, practitioners, and other experts who will consider food a serious interdisciplinary area of study, like humanities.

“We are who we are thanks to the food. It gives us a purpose in life it gives us a purpose on earth it gives us an understanding of where we come from it gives us an understanding of where we are,” he said, adding, “I do believe an institution like Harvard has to do more to bring food to the fore.”

Just months after his first Harvard lecture, Andrés’ career took a new direction when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. Inspired by the work of Paul Farmer, Harvard’s Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Andrés brought his cooking and leadership skills to Port-au-Prince and began serving meals to hundreds, then thousands, who had been devastated by the disaster. That experience led to the establishment of World Central Kitchen, his small but high-impact nongovernmental organization (NGO), which prepares and serves food to victims of natural disasters worldwide.

He advised students eager to tackle the world’s big problems, like hunger or the climate crisis, but unsure where to start to practice what they preach in their everyday lives and to direct some of their efforts toward making change in their own neighborhoods or communities, instead of shooting for the moon.

Food should ‘not be a problem, but actually the solution,’ says chef José Andrés as he delivers meals to Chicago school and hospital

Chef José Andrés, perhaps best known now for his humanitarian work worldwide, joined actor Sean Penn and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a new coronavirus testing site on the Northwest Side on Monday.

World Central Kitchen, the non-profit founded by Andrés, will help provide meals for workers at new testing sites in the Hanson Park and Little Village neighborhoods. The chef created the non-governmental organization in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He emerged as an outspoken leader during disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The chef, restaurateur, author, television host and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee described himself simply when asked.

“I’m a cook,” said Andrés. “People call you weird names like ‘celebrity bull****’ and all that stuff. I am what I do. I’m a cook.”

During a busy day crisscrossing the city, he spoke by phone while visiting Gibsons Italia, a World Central Kitchen partner, en route to Barrio restaurant on the Near North Side, before dropping off meals at Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park.

“We’ve been here over a month helping like we do everywhere else,” said Andrés. “We have more than 15 restaurants in Chicago that have been doing around 100,000 meals per week now. Today we delivered food in Englewood at the Montessori school there where we were serving food with the help of The Trotter Project and chef D’Andre.”

Andrés made an impromptu stop at The Montessori School of Englewood on the South Side, surprising chef D’Andre Carter, co-owner of Soul & Smoke barbecue kitchen in Evanston. Carter was delivering meals in partnership with World Central Kitchen and The Trotter Project, a legacy of the late Chicago chef Charlie Trotter.

The Spanish-American chef, once heralded for modernist fine dining, posted on Twitter: “Reporting in from Englewood in Chicago where we @WCKitchen are distributing fresh meals to the community here with our partner @TrotterProject ! Proud to be working with local chef DeAndre Carter. we are cooks who feed the few but together we can feed the many! #ChefsForAmerica”

“Chef D’Andre is a guy who spent his young years in Englewood,” said Andrés. “It’s amazing that this chef can put his restaurant to work as he partners with us and serves that community where he came from.”

World Central Kitchen has purchased more than 1 million meals from local restaurants nationwide for those in need as part of its Chefs for America emergency food relief program.

Andrés added that World Central Kitchen is also providing meals with Chicago Public Schools daily with local non-profit partners including the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Healthy Hood Chicago and The Trotter Project.

“In total in America we have over 1,600 restaurants working with us and that’s how we’re able to do 350,000 meals a day across America, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” said Andrés.

“Quite frankly in other emergencies when there is no light and total destruction things are harder, because sometimes you cannot reopen a restaurant,” said Andrés. “They’ve been destroyed in the areas we need to help, but we do open kitchens for other things.”

“Here the restaurants have been shut down, but they're in perfect condition,” he said. “So what we did is what we always do. We adapt. We have restaurants that we could put into the service of feeding people in need. Why not do that?”

“At the end of the day what World Central Kitchen has done is prove concepts,” said Andrés. “The concept that we can be talking to Congress over what we should do to make sure that on top of the health crisis and economic crisis that we don’t have a humanitarian crisis.”

“When we see photos of food being wasted on farms and at the same time long lines at food banks across America, we believe that we need shorter lines and longer tables,” he said. “We need many ways to make sure that we use total resources of the federal government, the private sector and NGOs so that food will not be a problem, but actually the solution.”

The James Beard Foundation awarded Andrés the Humanitarian of the Year award at the annual gala event in Chicago in 2018.

The chef had planned to open three restaurants in Chicago by this year. His fast casual and vegetable focused Beefsteak opened in the Gold Coast neighborhood last fall, but has closed temporarily. Two high profile restaurants are still in the works: a location of his famed Jaleo with Spanish tapas at the former Naha space in River North, and a riverfront restaurant with the Gibsons Restaurant Group in The Loop.

“We’ll open in the next year or two, when the time is right,” said Andrés.

Andrés joins former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden for a live virtual town hall to discuss the coronavirus crisis, the future of the restaurant industry and the issue of food security amid the pandemic on Tuesday hosted by Yahoo News.