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Chef José Andrés named recipient of James Beard Humanitarian Award

By on February 22, 2018

SAN JUAN – The James Beard Foundation, which honors culinary achievement, announced that chef José Andrés–a multiple James Beard Award-winner, owner of ThinkFoodGroup and founder of World Central Kitchen–has been named the recipient of the foundation’s 2018 Humanitarian Award.

Alongside the #ChefsforPuertoRico network of chefs and volunteers, Andrés’ World Central Kitchen served more than “3.3 million meals in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria” through 23 kitchens, according to the announcement.

“I am honored to be receiving and sharing this award with my team at World Central Kitchen, #ChefsforPuertoRico, #ChefsforCalifornia, good friends like Robert Egger and LA Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen and all of the incredible people I have been fortunate to meet over the years through the simple act of cooking a hot meal.

“Whether it’s teaching and preparing a meal alongside people who have just started a new chapter, empowering communities through clean cookstoves, or cooking meals for people who have experienced unimaginable devastation, I’ve learned that food is powerful. It nourishes, but it also has the power to be an agent of hope and change,” Andrés is quoted as saying.

According to the release, World Central Kitchen continues its commitment to Puerto Rico with “programs and long-term projects related to chef-driven disaster preparedness and feeding operations, sustainable and local agriculture, and resurgence of the island’s food economy” that are under development.

Besides Minibar, which the Michelin Guide awarded two stars for “excellent cooking that is worth a detour,” Andrés has several other restaurants in Washington, D.C. He is expected to publish a book titled, “We Fed An Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time.”

The James Beard Foundation theme this year, “RISE,” celebrates those who “rise to the occasion—whether to feed those in need, to stand up for what they believe in, to support their local communities, or to express their personal stories through their cooking,” the release explains.

“José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti [after its earthquake in 2010] shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale. He has demonstrated how, at the most difficult times, hot-cooked meals provide more than nutrition, they provide dignity. And we couldn’t imagine a more fitting honoree this year as we celebrate how chefs and our industry Rise,” Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the foundation, says in the written announcement.

Chef José Andrés distributes food to hospitals, communities in Puerto Rico

A kitchen used by Andrés in Puerto Rico, José Enrique, happens to belong to a semifinalist in the Best Chef category, which honors those “who have set new or consistent standards of excellence.” Local chef José Enrique was named among the winners in the South region, which includes Alabama, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana and Missouri.

Chef José Enrique (Screen capture of

Another Puerto Rican, Gabriel Hernández, also made theBest Chef semifinals for his work in Verde Mesa, an Old San Juan establishment. Best Chef candidates must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region. José Enrique and Hernández are among 20 that made the cut for the region.

The semifinalists in the awards’ 21 categories were selected from more than 20,000 entries in 10 U.S. regions, to the best new restaurants, outstanding bar programs, bakers, and rising star chefs 30 or younger. On March 14, the foundation will announce the final nominees for all categories.

The awards gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 7. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be conferred, along with the special achievement awards.

On April 27, the James Beard Media Awards, an event honoring top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective awards program.

JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia.


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