Mention the name José Andrés to any epicurean and they’ll immediately conjure images of fabulous venues serving delicious cuisine. After all, Chef Andrés is famous for delivering such experiences across many locations, like his latest restaurant, Nubeluz, located 500 feet above street level in New York City atop the Ritz Carlton Nomad hotel, and that one is only a sister venue to another restaurant, called Zaytinya, which Andrés opened only a couple of months earlier. Andrés comes from Mieres, Asturias in Spain, and went to culinary school in Barcelona at the tender age of 15. He arrived in the U.S. in 1990 with the proverbial $50 in his pocket and scored a gig cooking in a popular midtown Spanish-themed restaurant, Eldorado Petit. By 1993 he led the kitchen at Jaleo, a fashionable tapas restaurant in Washington DC, and by 2003 he’d started the innovative minibar, essentially a smaller restaurant (a bar with just five or six seats) situated inside a larger eatery, Café Atlantico. Along with his success in America, Andrés’s fortunes also improved in his native Spain where he starred in his own cooking show and authored his first book, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. He’s even taught a culinary physics course at Harvard with Ferran Adrià. The only stumble in an otherwise long list of celebrity chef accomplishments is a continuing feud with the Trump Hotel organization where Andrés had planned to open a restaurant until Trump made disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants after which Andrés pulled out of the deal. The typical flurry of suits and countersuits ensued until the legal mess was settled in 2017.
Why They Made the Worthy 100: Andrés may have a slew of glittering and luxurious restaurants to his name, but in 2010 he decided to also make food for the rest of the world when he founded the World Central Kitchen (WCK). This non-profit works to provide meals to victims and first responders in natural disaster situations. WCK’s first such mission was also in 2010 when it responded to the earthquake in Haiti. Since then, it’s brought food and organized meals in many countries, including the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda, Cambodia, and Poland. It’s also served meals in the U.S. and Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricanes and disasters there as well as in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, WCK responded to a number of disasters, including Hurricane Ian and the war in Ukraine. At the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, Andrés spoke eloquently about how America should reconsider the way it views food. He outlined his vision for how food could revitalize the country on multiple fronts, such as driving economic growth, improving overall citizen health, and, of course, WCK’s core mission of feeding citizens in emergencies, a situation Andrés feels will become more common as we enter an age of climate change consequences.