We talk with restaurateur Ashok Bajaj about how he keeps his customers coming back and what defines and distinguishes his native Indian cuisine.
Chef Jose Andres is known for cuisine that’s one part tradition, one part science experiment, earning him numerous awards and accolades. His enthusiasm and passion for food extends beyond the plate, propelling Andres’ work as an activist and teacher. It’s also fueled the growth of a restaurant empire that recently went international. We talk with Andres about his journey — both personal and culinary — thus far, and where he’s heading next.
- Jose Andres Chef; Owner, Think Food Group (Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya, minibar); Founder, World Central Kitchen; Dean, Spanish Studies program of the International Culinary Center
Jose Andres, the celebrity chef behind Jaleo and Oyamel, pressed listeners to call their representatives and advocate for immigration reform. “We need to do a better job making sure that those people that are already here, that somehow they belong, because if we help them, we’re going to be helping ourselves,” he said. Andres, who became a U.S. citizen in November after 23 years in the country, said repeatedly that he’s not a politician and not advocating an open-door immigration policy. “What we’re trying only to say is we have a situation in America that is wrong and many people recognize is wrong. So what we’re trying to say is let’s try and fix it so we can start making sure that no more people will start crossing the frontiers illegally.”
Recipes By Chef Jose Andres
Zaytinya’s Htipiti Recipe
Gambas al Ajillo: Sautéed Shrimp With Garlic And Guindilla Pepper
Ensalada de Coles de Bruselas: Brussels Sprouts With Ham And Apricots
Yields 2 servings
4 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 shallot, peeled
dash white pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stems removed
8 ounce block of feta cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place red peppers directly on oven racks. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, turning every 7 minutes or so. When the peppers are charred, remove from the oven carefully with tongs. Set the peppers aside and let the peppers cool. Mince garlic and shallots and place in a small mixing bowl. Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, shallots, white pepper, and salt. Set aside.
Peel the charred skin from the outside of the peppers. Discard the peels, stems, and seeds. Chop the peppers into small pieces and place in medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk dressing to combine and pour over peppers. Sprinkle fresh thyme on top of pepper mixture. Coarsely chop feta into small pieces and add to pepper mixture. Stir ingredients together and chill for 15 minutes before serving.
Yields 5 servings
Sautéed Shrimp Ingredients:
1 pound Shrimp White 31/35 peeled and deveined, or your preferred size
¼ cup Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
5 Arbol chiles
5 tablespoons of brandy
5 tablespoons lemon Juice
½ cup Brava sauce (Recipe Below)
Kosher salt to taste
Thinly slice the garlic cloves with a knife, mandoline or slicer and set aside. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to fry. Add the Arbol chile and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat up to high and add the shrimp. When the shrimp starts to change color, add the brandy, lemon juice and brava sauce and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, season with salt and serve.
Brava Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 ounce Whole Garlic Peeled and Sliced
2 Arbol Chile
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Spanish Sherry Vinegar
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 pounds Whole Canned Tomatoes (Pureed)
1 tablespoon Spanish Sweet Pimenton
Kosher Salt to taste
In a medium size pot over medium heat add the oil, garlic and Arbol chile and sauté slowly until they start to brown. Add the sugar and stir until it melts. Add the vinegar and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer until almost dry. Add the pimenton and adjust seasoning with salt if necessary. Strain through a sieve and reserve for later use.
2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
Stack the shrimp into 5 shallow bowls, garnish with the parsley and serve.
Yields 4 servings
Sherry Dressing Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Sea salt to taste
3 ounces Brussels sprouts, pulled apart so just leaves
1 tablespoon Serrano ham, diced 1/4″
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
3 dried apricots, diced 1/4″ and rehydrated
2 tablespoons of diced Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons Green grapes, halved
Chopped fresh herbs (thyme, chives)
Whisk together the Sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch Brussels sprout leaves for 1 minute. Drop into an ice bath, cool completely. Remove from water, strain well and set aside.
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, quickly sauté the diced Serrano ham and set aside.
Just before serving, drop the Brussels sprouts in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Remove with a strainer and dry slightly on a towel. Combine the Brussels sprouts in the bowl with the apricots, apricots, grapes and fresh herbs. Sprinkle with the ham. Drizzle with a bit of the Sherry dressing and adjust the salt to taste.
Jose Andres Gets Cooking On “The Ellen Show”
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. If you've ever seen him, you'll know that chef Jose Andres is full of energy and constantly on the move. You might find him in the kitchen at Minibar, pushing culinary boundaries, in what he calls the nerve center of his growing restaurant empire. Or, he might be holding court at the front of a classroom, teaching college students about food policy, science, and the preservation of cultural traditions.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOr, maybe on a slow day, you'd catch him on the golf course, taking to the green at the resort in Puerto Rico, where he just opened his first restaurant outside the continental United States. Or, maybe, just maybe, you'll find him right here. Joining me in studio, Jose Andres. He is a James Beard Award winning chef and partner in 15 restaurants, including Minibar in Washington, four locations of Jaleo and the newly opened Mi Casa in Puerto Rico. He's also Dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in New York. Jose Andres, when do you pause to take a breath?
CHEF JOSE ANDRESWell, I sleep at night. I can tell you this. But, life is too short to waste it. So, I like to be on the move.
NNAMDIHe is on the move a lot. So, if you want to catch up with him, you'd better start calling now. 800-433-8850. Have you eaten in one of Jose Andres's restaurants, both locally and/or in another part of the country? Notice any differences? Tell us about them. 800-433-8850. After 23 years living and working in the US, you and your wife officially became citizens last month. Congratulations.
NNAMDIYou said the ceremony was a very powerful experience. How so?
ANDRESWell, it is powerful. Imagine, I arrive here 23 years ago, dreaming of, for some reason, to becoming one more American, and to contribute. And 23 years later, that dream happened. When you are there in the room, and all of a sudden, you hear a message, videotape, from the President. The words are very powerful. They're welcoming you. They're telling you, here you have all these rights, but we're expecting you, also, to have responsibilities. And I love that. It was a moving thing, and especially being next to my wife.
NNAMDIAnd, of course, you were making a lot of contributions to the culture and your community long before you became a citizen. It does, however, raise the issue of immigration reform. Leaders on both sides of the aisle have recently said, it's time, or, in fact, past time, to reform our immigration system. What was your experience navigating through the system, and do you think we'll be seeing change anytime soon?
ANDRESMy experience, quite frankly, probably even Republicans love a guy like me. I came with a visa. I worked hard. I contributed. I paid my taxes, and you could say, I'm becoming a successful citizen. But here, we're talking about the many that are in America, and that they are undocumented. Over 11 million people that they have no voice, no vote. And I do believe that these are people that belong to the DNA of America. They are doing jobs. They are farming somewhere. They are fishing somewhere. They are doing our lawns. They are doing things.
ANDRESSo, why we don't go and we give them a chance to become part of the American dream? They are here already. We wouldn't be moving forward without them, so let's recognize that. Let's create the system, a path for them to become citizens, so they can even contribute more to America.
NNAMDICitizenship aside, it's my belief that you will maintain your close ties to Spain, and I recently learned something I had not previously known about you. I thought I knew a lot about you, but I did not know that the sea was one of your early loves. Tell us about your service in the Spanish Navy.
ANDRESWell, it was a dream of mine. They put me -- when I become a Navy man, they put me cooking for the Admiral. But they told him, no way. I'd been dreaming since I was young to go on that amazing ship. A tall ship called Juan Sebastian del Canal. (unintelligible) I was six month on the sea. First time I came America was Pensacola, and then New York. And a very powerful moment when I'm coming under the -- on the bridge. Very high up on the mast with Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the big flags of America all over.
ANDRESTo me, this was like, probably, the moment that I said, wow. I want to come back here one day. And that dream happened. So, the Navy was a very important moment for me. I was very proud to serve on the Spanish Navy, and I learned a lot of lessons as a Navy man.
NNAMDIBut how do you say no to an Admiral and get away with it?
ANDRESWell, actually, it was more, I think his wife was the one that was more upset that I was saying, Admiral -- the Admiral actually told me, Kojo, Jose, please, yes, you're gonna go, but let me tell my wife. Wait to tell my wife that you're not going to be cooking for us. But I was very proud I was able to go on a ship and see the world.
NNAMDIOur guest is Jose Andres. If you live in the Washington area, or virtually anywhere in the country, you know who he is. He's the chef and partner in 15 restaurants, including Minibar in Washington. Four locations of Jaleo, and the newly opened, Mi Casa in Puerto Rico. He's also Dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in New York. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. Send us a tweet @kojoshow, or you can simply go to our website kojoshow.org.
NNAMDIAsk a question or make a comment there. Your culinary range, Jose, extends well beyond your native Spain. We've talked with chef Pati Jinich before about the, perhaps, unexpected links between Asian and South American cuisines. You're planning to open a new spot in D.C. that will explore those connections. What can we expect from China Chilenko?
ANDRESWell, Pati Jinich is one of the best Mexican chefs we have in the United States, besides a great TV personality. But, before my chief op Peruvian restaurant, I opened, a few years ago, in Las Vegas, at the Cosmopolitan Casino, a restaurant that was celebrating China and Mexico. China Poblano, we call it. And you're gonna say, why? Well, if you read the stories and you learn about Mexico, at the beginning of the century, was huge immigration from Chinese into Mexico.
ANDRESActually, you have a city called Mexicali, that if you go in the streets, it's hundreds, hundreds of Chinese descendents that actually, they have Chinese/Mexican restaurants. So, what I did was create this Mexican meet China place. Then, I wanted to open a Chinese in D.C. I visit Peru for first time a few months ago, and I saw that there, they have exactly the same. Many Chinese that came also to Peru. And they have this amazing fusion cuisine between Peruvian and Chinese. That's what we're gonna be opening here in the District next year.
NNAMDIChina Chilanko. On to the telephones now. Let's start with Eric in Potomac, Maryland. Eric, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ERICHi there. Thanks for the call, Kojo. Love the show. I wanted to say, first of all, you know, Zaytinya has become a yearly anniversary dinner place for me and my longtime girlfriend. We love it, so thank you very much for that place. I know it's been around a while. But I wanted to mention -- you mentioned you just became a citizen. Congratulations. I had a business where I had to employ a lot of immigrants, and a lot of their children, whose, you know, parents come over illegally, have children here, and then they're unable to get citizenship.
ERICAnd I wanted to get a comment for you, like, how you find in the industry, like hiring people and employing them in the situations you find like that, I think it's a real shame that they can't have a better path to getting that citizenship.
NNAMDIEric, thank you for your call. Jose?
ANDRESWell, I'm trying not to talk as a politician, because I am not one. I'm only trying to talk as a person that cares. As a father, as a businessman and what I can tell you is, I think many people agree with you. Actually, if we talk politics, Republicans and Democrats, in the vast majority, are supporting this immigration reform. So, what we have to be doing, everybody that may be listening to us right now, is start calling. Start calling your Senators.
ANDRESStart telling them that we have to pass immigration reform. Maybe it will not be the dream reform that everybody is aiming on the right or on the left, but we need to do a better job, making sure that those people that are already here, that somehow they belong. Because if we help them, we're going to be helping ourselves.
NNAMDIEric, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Shirley in Washington, D.C. Shirley, your turn.
SHIRLEYYes, it's a real pleasure to talk with the chef. Jaleo, for the past, I guess at least 20 years now, maybe it's a little older than that, have been my favorite restaurant. Also my son's favorite restaurant, and when I see people, if they're in the area, they want a good restaurant, affordable, good proportions, of course, their tapas -- I just say, go to Jaleo. I do -- and also, I've eaten at Minibar, so I've eaten at a couple of your restaurants over the years. I disagree with you about immigration.
SHIRLEYBecause, in your case, you came here legally. And I don't have any problems with children who come here being able to have a path to citizenship. But, my son, for example, when he was in school in London for two years, in 1999 to 2001, he could not get a job at the Gap, an American owned company. So, you have to have secure borders. Most other countries in the world just don't let you come there and start working. So, I really disagree with you on that.
NNAMDIYour son was in London as a student?
SHIRLEYSay it again?
NNAMDIYour son was in London as a student?
SHIRLEYExactly. He was there as a student.
NNAMDII know other students who worked in London. That's very strange.
ANDRESYeah, but what I can...
SHIRLEYThey must have had some real in with someone, because he could not find a job there.
ANDRESBut, thank you very much for the love to Jaleo and Minibar, but what I would like to tell you is, I think we agree more than you think. Let me tell you. Obviously, I'm not a politician, and I'm not trying to talk about all the details. Right now, we have many Senators, many Congressmen on both sides of the aisle, that they are supporting immigration reform. Everyone is agreeing with you that we want to secure our borders.
ANDRESPassing this immigration reform doesn't mean to open a door to anybody that wants to come to this country. It's actually the contrary. What we're trying only to say is that we have a situation in America that is wrong. And that many people recognize is wrong. So, what we're trying to say is, let's try to fix it so we can start taking care of making sure that no more people will cross the frontiers illegally. Making sure that, actually, anybody that is here right now is recognized so we can have kind of a clean cut. And start moving forward in a better way.
NNAMDIShirley, thank you very much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. What insights into this community or others have you gained through the food that you find here? 800-433-8850. Jose, China Chilenko is the latest, as far as I know, of quite a few new projects you've launched since the last time we spoke. A lot of people may not realize how much of the work that a chef does involves management. How do you maintain control and oversight over what seems to be an ever growing roster of ventures you're involved in?
ANDRESWell, what I have, and I'm very proud that we call Washington, D.C. our home, it's a management company that we call it, Think Food Group. With my partner, Rob Wilder, 20 plus years a partner, we make sure that we have organization that is very flat in terms of the organizational chart. So, if you will come to my office, you will see 40, 50, 60 people working in a very big, open space where everybody's able to talk to each other. Doesn't matter if they are coming from operations, marketing, accounting, human resources.
ANDRESAnd I think this is what is so far making us, somehow, successful. We centralize in a way that is very unique, and we work with the synergies between all the different areas within the company. And that makes us a very unique company.
NNAMDISo it is not a very rigid hierarchical kind of structure? It's a structure where people can communicate across different lines of responsibility.
ANDRESCorrect. Just to let you know, I mean, I don't have even an office. I sit in the middle of the room and anybody can come to me. The newest guy that just arrived to work a few weeks with us to the person who's been obviously 10, 15 years. We make sure that we are open and that we listen and that we are able to share the ideas and that we are able to keep moving ideas. So what's our success? I think that we are only trying to make it simple. Information is shared by all, it's known by all, and we are asking everybody to contribute as much as they can. And these two simple things keep moving everything forward.
NNAMDIThere's a lot of science behind the dishes that you're famous for and a seat at Minibar -- which is akin to your lab -- is one of the more coveted reservations in town. For those who have not experienced it, what is it that you do there?
ANDRESWell, Minibar, it's the creations that my team and I work year after year. And the creations can be from the science point of view, like we're working with water (unintelligible) with MIT professors. And out of that we are going to try to be coming up with dishes. Or we may travel to China and all of a sudden we learn a new ingredient or a new idea that we bring and we create at Minibar.
ANDRESSo you see we may go to Seattle, work with Dale Chihuly, the biggest glass master in America. And we come up with dishes honoring his art. Creativity can start anywhere. What Minibar is, is the end of our travels, the end of our learning, when we create something that we are ready to share it with anybody that wants to spend some time with us at the Minibar.
NNAMDIAnd, of course, next to Minibar, there's Barmini (laugh), where you're doing the same thing, but with cocktails.
ANDRESCocktails (laugh), we have some food. We wouldn't want people to leave loaded, but this is a great place where there are libations, there are just drinks that we have where great cocktail master Juan Coronado, leading the team. And where, actually, it's more than just one great cocktail place, it's where we create cocktails for all of our restaurants across the country and the new ones coming.
NNAMDIA cocktail lab, so to speak. We're going to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. We will get to your calls. If you'd like to call the number is 800-433-8850. Got questions for Jose Andres? You can also send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. Our guest is Jose Andres. He's a James Beard award-winning chef, partner in 15 restaurants, including Minibar in Washington, four locations of Jaleo and the newly-opened Mi Casa in Puerto Rico. He's also dean of Spanish studies at the International Culinary Center in New York.
NNAMDIYou can send email to email@example.com or if you'd like to talk with Jose in person give us a call at 800-433-8850. We got an email from Shawn, who says, "I'm involved in the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, for which Chef Andres serves as a culinary ambassador. Could he speak to the importance of global philanthropy and how he gives back locally and globally?" Your turn, Jose.
ANDRESWell, yes. The Alliance of Clean Cook Stoves is very important. We need to understand that we have hundreds of millions of people that every day the only way they can feed their families is by cutting trees and cooking with charcoal and this is a huge problem. When you see a woman with a child right here, next to her breast, and they're cooking and all that smoke is coming into their lungs, only to know that that one-month-old will already be asthmatic for the rest of his life is just heartbreaking.
ANDRESWhen they are cutting the trees is the first station. When it is this first station and the rain comes instead of the rain becoming something to celebrate, it's something that creates death because the water comes down from the mountain, takes away soil, takes away homes. So in buying a simple clean cook stove, how it can change the lives of so many million people. This is one thing that is very close to my heart and, yes…
NNAMDILast time you were here you were just back from Haiti…
NNAMDI…on a post earthquake relief trip and you'd recently launched the World Central Kitchen.
ANDRESYes. World Central Kitchen, very simple. We began in Haiti, but we hope one day that we are going to be in many more places. Even my dream is that all of the NGO's of the world will have to disappear because we will not have any more problems, but with World Central Kitchen, what we are trying to do is simple, to make sure that food becomes a solution to the many issues. So we have a bakery in an orphanage. We have a canteen that we're going to be building in a chicken farm, so the chicken eggs can be sold in the market and make the money to buy the food, pay the cooks that feed 200 children a day.
ANDRESWe're in the process of doing culinary school for young girls, etcetera, etcetera. I'm very happy with -- I'm about to go next week, also, to Haiti again. And I've very happy about World Central Kitchen. But, why I'm very happy is about the amazing job the U.S. ID is doing around the world. I don't think America really understands how American dollars are helping in the betterment of the lives of so many million people around the world. And this is something that America should be very proud of.
NNAMDIAnd coming back to what's going on in this country, you're a long-time supporter of D.C. Central Kitchen here, started World Kitchen yourself and in L.A. you're teaming up once again with Robert Egger (laugh) to provide food to those in need. Talk a little bit about that. Where do the challenges that each city faces kind of overlap?
ANDRESWell, this Central Kitchen, again, 25 years, an amazing organization, as many others. And we no worry that. We take people out of the street, we clean them off, many issues they face, they graduate, we train them to be cooks, in the process we feed over 5,000 people a day. In L.A. Robert Egger has an amazing idea. L.A. has big problem with elderly and many veterans, that no one is taking care of them. And if our public systems are not taking care of them, we have to be thinking almost like private.
ANDRESSo what L.A. Kitchen is going to be is precisely this, we're going to be getting much of the bounty of the farming around L.A., and we're going to be bringing it to this kitchen and we're going to be training people the same way, but we're going to put an emphasis in the elderly and in veterans. And hopefully that kitchen is going to be able to feed over 10,000 people a day in a very sustainable way.
NNAMDIThat's what Robert Egger was doing here in Washington, at D.C. Central Kitchen, which is still in the business of training people to become cooks and chefs here in this area. They're going to do the same thing out in Los Angeles. Back to the phones, here's Ken in Derwood, Md. Ken, your turn.
KENHello, I’m very happy to talk with Jose Andres. I like what you said about philanthropic activities in the U.S. and Haiti. I didn't know that. That's wonderful. But my question is different. I understand that you started to import a line of food products under your own brand name and I'm just wondering whether you plan to extend that, if you have any plans of adding still more products and making that an even more important line of imported foods from Spain.
ANDRESYes. I began this already a few years ago with the importing Iberico ham, which is this black pig that eats acorns. And I did it -- not because I wanted to bring a new product, only I'm a Spanish chef and I can only be as good as my product. So by bringing this very special ingredient from Spain I was achieving that. So I began partnering with small producers, producers that will have no option of any exporting. And everyone knows the economic downturn that Spain has been over the last five years. Spain is kind of coming back on that sense.
ANDRESAnd so I thought, let me show a way to people in Spain of how we can start exporting some of the best products we have to America, to China, to India, to anywhere that those products may be needed. So you're going to be seeing them around the Washington metropolitan area, in many of the Whole Foods, but we are already moving towards New York. We're going to be one day, I hope, all across America. And the only thing I'm bringing is a little of the flavor of the country I come from, Spain, to the country I belong now, the United States. So let's hope it's a successful, good business.
NNAMDIKen, thank you very much for your call. On the other end of the spectrum you've hit the streets with a food truck named Pepe. Debate over area regulations has been notoriously contentious. Did you have any reservations about getting in on the food truck game?
ANDRESI did it for many reasons. One of them, I wanted to test what a food truck is like. And for me, it's been a great game. I learned a lot. It was a good way for me to test new concepts. But also I wanted to show support to the many owners of food trucks in this city and around America that are young people, that they want to be entrepreneurs, that they are deciding to spend some of the money, the little savings they have to come up with a truck, that's what America is. So if we have those young entrepreneurs that want to create the type of business, we should be finding the ways to support them. I've got restaurants. And you may say, Jose, they're going to be competing with you.
ANDRESAnd I’m going to say, probably. Yes, you're right. Let's create the perimeters so they can pay taxes, too, etcetera, etcetera, but I don't think we should be in the business of telling entrepreneurs, young people, sorry, you cannot succeed because we're not going to let you. So what I'm going to say to any restaurant owner that is against food trucks, hey, you have to improve your game. You're going to have to cook better. You're going to have to be giving better service and better quality for the money you're charging. So me, quite frankly, I love the food trucks and I only wish them the best. It's not my business, but I did it to learn and to show them support.
NNAMDIIf you want to learn to cook like Jose Andres you can go to our website, kojoshow.org, and you'll see a video there of Jose cooking with Ellen DeGeneres, you'll find a few recipes of Jose Andres's there, and who knows what your future could be. Onto Monica, in Tacoma Park, Md. Monica, you're on the air, go ahead, please.
MONICAHi, Kojo. I love your show.
MONICAAnd, Jose Andres, I love your food. And so I wanted to ask you if you can suggest anything for Christmas dinner.
NNAMDIChristmas dinner, Jose?
ANDRESOh, Christmas. (laugh) Well, I think some people are going to tell me are you nuts, but it's very traditional in Spain to roast a turkey. So here, the tradition is in Thanksgiving, roasted turkey. But I will do the stuffing in the Catalan Way. I will buy some raw meat sausages, some dried apricots, some dried prunes, some whole almonds, some walnuts and I will sauté the whole thing.
ANDRESA little bit of brandy, just goes up in flames. And you're going to stuff your turkey with all those ingredients I just told you. It's kind of the stuffing, but without the bread. And believe me, the stuffing, in this case, is going to be even better than the turkey. So if I was you, hey, do Thanksgiving all over again, this time on Christmas Day.
NNAMDIHow about that, Monica?
NNAMDIThat works for you?
MONICAThat sounds delicious. Thank you.
NNAMDIThank you (laughter) very much for your call. We've got an email from Susan. Susan Callahan is a chef instructor at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. She writes, "My modern kitchen techniques class is listening to you right now. Your influence is also felt all the way to Rockville, Md. and the University of Maryland Hotel Restaurant Management program, where we loved watching "The Harvard Series." Jose, your influence is amazing on the culinary world and on me personally." You're teaching without even being in the classroom. (laughter)
ANDRESWell, actually, Susan Callahan, actually I know who she is very well. She's done an amazing job teaching. And many years ago when I joined the Central Kitchen, 20 years ago she was the lead instructor on that amazing organization. So I love her. I mean, listen, education I believe is everything. I'm a guy that loved his school very much when I was 14, 15.
ANDRESAnd I'm not going to get now into the reasons of why, but I always knew that I had to keep learning. And the amazing (unintelligible) that I’m getting now to follow this is we need to start telling people that learning is everything and that even if for some reason people are out of school -- like in my case -- it's no excuse of why you cannot learn.
ANDRESThere are public libraries. There everybody seems to have a iPhone that -- a phone that you can get on the web and that you can get on Wikipedia, that you can get on Google to find anything. Today I have to tell every single young person out there, don't give any excuse of why you are not receiving an education. The excuse use has to stop in you. Go out and start learning because we have a fascinating moment to learn, but only we have to wish to learn. That's all we need, but we need that education.
NNAMDIWhen we can't find you in the kitchen, one of the other places we might look is the front of a college lecture hall. What's the course you're going to be teaching at George Washington University? What's that all about?
ANDRESWell, this is the second year, The World on a Plate, which we kind of tackle all the issues that food is connected with. National security, oh, yeah. You wouldn't have young men ready to join the Army -- because obesity happens, that the America doesn't have an army to protect our borders. Food and science, to understand that everything in science can be explained through food.
ANDRESFood and history, to understand when apples arrived in America. There were no apples before. And bees, we had no bees. So we have bees, America didn't have fruit orchards. Wow. When you start learning about all the sceneries between everything, you really see a very powerful world where food is at the heart of everything.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Do you think the local restaurant community is doing its part to address food policy issues like nutrition and food insecurity? Some of the things you've heard Jose Andres talking about today. What have you noticed chefs doing and what else would you like to see? 800-433-8850. Let's go to David, in University Park, Md. David, you're on the air, go ahead, please.
DAVIDThank you. Hi, Kojo. Mr. Andres, it's a real pleasure. I like your restaurants. I like your approach to food. My favorite restaurant was that pop-up, at Cafe Atlantico. But my question is about -- one experience about dining I don’t like is tipping. And restaurateurs are allowed to pay way less than the minimum wage. And that seems very unfair to people that work in less expensive restaurants. And I wonder how you would feel about trying to change the approach, maybe the way they do it in France.
ANDRESTipping is something that is becoming a hot topic, as many people and even organizations trying to lead the way to end tipping, where everybody will start making use of a salary. But, again, we need to remember that the -- I’m not going to get in this controversy because we are ourselves in the process of asking what is the right way. And I think tipping not necessarily has anything to do with the minimum wage. I believe that the minimum wage, if anything, has to keep always increasing because we have to be giving our workers a fair minimum wage that they can have a living in this world of ours.
ANDRESBut use and with tipping, I believe there's many people trying to move forward in allowing this kind of system where we will pay salaries to every single employee, waiters included. But again, myself, for now I'm going to stay on the sides. What I know is that tipping has been part of the American culture for so long that it's a lot of things that have to change. And it's legal implications, etcetera, etcetera.
ANDRESSo for me, I would say, yes, maybe one day we should move tipping away as the main salary of many people, especially in the service side, but, again, this is going to be a topic that hopefully many people are going to be bringing ideas, but what we need to make sure is that people that are serving us in the restaurants of America are receiving a fair salary that allows them to have a fair life in this country.
NNAMDIFor there's a bill going before the full D.C. council on the minimum wage tomorrow. It does not, at this point, include a base-wage increase for tipped-minimum wage, but that's one of the issues that Jose is talking about that will be discussed for some time now. And so if we see change it will probably be an evolving kind of change over the years.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Dave in Reston, who wants to know, "Why isn't Spanish, the new Italian, becoming widely available and popular, not just in higher-end restaurants, but in neighborhoods across the country? Is it the lack of chefs? I've visited Spain a half dozen times and spent a year after the first visit, learning how to do paella properly." (laugh)
ANDRESWell, I think this is changing. Washington, D.C., is very funny because I could almost tell you that Washington has been the tapas capital of America. I'm from here, too many other places. New York is a renaissance of Spanish restaurants. Places like Charlottesville, is an amazing restaurant called Curate. Every where I’m going, more and more, I see that Spanish restaurants are popping up. So hold on, take a look, what's going to happen in the next 5, 10, 15 years because even without a lot of Spanish chefs here in the country, you're going to see that Spain is going to have a big renaissance right here in the States.
NNAMDIHere's Antoinette, in Washington, D.C. Antoinette, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANTOINETTEYes. Hi, Kojo and your guest. I mean I'm just fascinated. I'm listening to everything you have accomplished and, I mean, you've done a whole lot. But I need to ask you a question. For your employment, do you have the box where you have to check for, you know, if someone is convicted or do you not check the box because, you know, they're trying to get that in a lot of the businesses now. And then you can just have a one on one with the person.
NNAMDIYou're saying what is his attitude towards employing returning citizens or ex-offenders?
ANTOINETTEYou know, and some of the places are trying to get them not to be able to check and just shut you right down before you get an interview.
NNAMDIGo ahead, Jose.
ANTOINETTESo what about you?
ANDRESWell, I'm going to tell you, we were talking about this at Central Kitchen earlier.
NNAMDII was about to say he's worked with…
ANDRESAnd this is exactly what Central Kitchen is. We all, in our paths, have done something wrong because we didn't know any better, who knows. And I think we have to find the ways to be giving those people opportunity to come back into our society. Actually what Robert Egger, in L.A. Kitchen, wants to do, the governor (word?) is announcing that they want to release X amount of minor offenders. And when they go out we need those guys to find a job.
ANDRESSo we need to train them into a job they can perform so they can be hired. One inmate costs the state of California over $46,000 a year. (unintelligible) if we go from costing $46,000 a year to the people of California to actually have an individual that is going to become productive and is going to start creating a richness by the taxes, and is going to be one more productive member of society.
ANDRESWhat do we want? To be paying $50,000 for a minor offender or giving him a second chance that I do believe almost every human being deserve and put that person into the productive DNA of America. To me it's a very simple answer.
NNAMDIAntoinette, you see how Jose Andres feels. We're going to take a short break. If you'd like to call, the number's 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. What insights into this community or others have you gained through the food you find here? You can also send us a tweet @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation with Jose Andres. He is a James Beard Award-winning chef, partner in 15 restaurants. They include Minibar in Washington, four locations of Jaleo and the newly-opened Mi Casa in Puerto Rico. He's also dean of Spanish studies at the International Culinary Center in New York. You can send email to us at email@example.com or if you have a question or comment call us at 800-433-8850. Kelsey tweets, "I love D.C. cuisine, but why did Jose Andres choose to settle here instead of New York or L.A. for his home base?"
ANDRESWell, everybody needs to look for a place to belong and I was on my way almost to Japan. I was in La Jolla, San Diego. Don't tell me why. (laugh) And I got this phone call from a beautiful group of people, Rob Wilder, Roberto Alvarez and Ann Cashion, who together they were thinking about opening Jaleo. And they told me, hey, you want to fly here, to talk to you, to be the head chef of Jaleo. So I own, to the three of them, my arrival to this city I'm so proud to call home, and where I met my wife and where my three beautiful daughters are born at the Sibley hospital.
NNAMDISo that's why he's here. Now, we tend to think of you as a Washington guy and this is your home base, but you also have restaurants in L.A., Las Vegas, Miami and now Puerto Rico. How much is geography a factor when you're thinking about a new project?
ANDRESWell, in the old days, quite frankly, will happen because somebody will call. My first big thing outside the area was in L.A. when I opened the SLS Hotel where I’m the culinary director for the entire hotel, I opened Bazaar. We got four stars over five years ago, three days before the Oscars, and we were in the newspapers all around the world, saying wow, the first Oscar has been given to a chef.
ANDRESSo again, location for me was L.A. I love L.A. I wanted to have something there. I love the creativity there. Miami, it's obvious, it's almost a Spanish town, it's a Latin town. I cannot belong there. Las Vegas was kind of, wow, it's where many dreams happen because there's a lot of money to pay for dreams.
ANDRESSo, you know, I keep choosing base on the project. And I had very, very good projects, like the one I'm going to do here on Tysons Corner, America Eats at the Ritz-Carlton. That is going to be opening next year, which is a celebration of the American culinary history through a mini restaurant. It was a pop-up I did with the National Archives during one year. We were very proud of what happened. And next year, I'm probably -- I don't know if I even told you that one.
NNAMDIYou have not.
ANDRESWe are opening America Eats at the Ritz in Tysons Corner. So very happy also with these restaurants celebrating…
NNAMDIAnd I thought I knew…
ANDRESThe bounty of America.
NNAMDII thought I knew everything he was doing. Mi Casa in Puerto Rico is your first restaurant outside the continental United States.
NNAMDIPuerto Rico is a part of the United States, but how did you settle on that location?
ANDRESWell, that was easy. The ownership there -- I call them friends -- they have great scuba diving, they have great kite surfing and they have great golf. So with those three things in mind, it was like, wow, for me Puerto Rico was simple. It's a big connection between Puerto Rico and Spain. And I'm always looking for those sceneries. And so I don't go only to open a restaurant. I go also to learn and to enrich my team and myself with a learning experience. And that's why sometimes I pick locations because I feel I can learn as much as I can give.
NNAMDIHere's Amy, in Arlington, Va. Amy, your turn.
AMYHi. Thanks for taking my call.
AMYI had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant called Molecular that was in the Mandarin Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. And I remember the chef that was serving us talked about it having been established by the same person who started Minibar in Washington, D.C. And first it was a fantastic restaurant, and second, is that you? Were you involved in that? And if you were, what's it like setting up something in Japan?
ANDRESNo. I was not involved in opening Molecular. Probably I was supposed to. It became very popular in Tokyo, but two or three of the individuals that opened that place came from Minibar. So I’m very happy that that happened. And I'm very happy I was able somehow to send some of my team members to start opening other outposts in places so far away as Tokyo. So I had nothing to do with it, but I kind of -- informally I was behind it.
AMYWell, they give you lots of credit and the meal was well worth it. We appreciated it.
NNAMDIAmy, thank you very much for your call. And speaking of your influence, we got a post on our Facebook page from Marsha who says, "We ate a restaurant started by student to yours, Curate, in Asheville, N.C. It was fabulous."
ANDRESYeah, Curate is…
ANDRESCurate will be the Spanish pronunciation. And it's run by two beautiful people, Katie Button, who she's to me one of the young darlings of American cuisine, and Felix Meana, the husband. Felix came to work with me in the United States. He met with Katie, working at the Old Cafe Atlantico. They moved to L.A. to help me open the restaurant and the hotel there. Katie moved to Spain. When she came back to they moved to Asheville. And I can tell you, it's a restaurant worth a trip. Besides, Asheville is a beautiful town, the restaurant, I'm so proud that somehow Asheville has a piece of Spain right there at the heart.
NNAMDIWe didn't mention, of course, Mike Isabella, who's been on this broadcast, another alum of Jose Andres. Here is Javier, in Reston, Va. Javier, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. I think Javier is now on the air. Javier, are you there?
JAVIERHello, Kojo. Can you hear me?
NNAMDIYes, I can.
JAVIERFantastic show. Mr. Andres, you're a fantastic chef. We've enjoyed going to many of your restaurants.
JAVIERJaleo, Atlantico, Oyamel, America Eats. You've realized some of the things like peanut butter and jelly and foie gras at America Eats, just unbelievable experience. But we are traveling to Puerto Rico for Christmas and I guess we can go to Mi Casa, but what's the thing we should have on the menu? What's the best thing we should have?
ANDRESSo in Mi Casa I will have without a doubt the asopao of the spiny lobsters that, when the season is open, comes right there from the water. The asopao is kind of a soupy rice, which is kind of Spain meets Puerto Rico. (unintelligible) meets the rice dishes of the Caribbean. So without a doubt I will have this. And also I will go to a place called Jose Enrique, downtown San Juan. He's really one of the great chefs of the Caribbean. And you're going to have a blast with him, too. So welcome to Puerto Rico.
JAVIERThank you so much.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We got an email from Steve, who describes himself as director of fisheries marketing for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He posted on Facebook, saying, "We would love Chef Andres to incorporate more local seafood products into his menu."
ANDRESYeah, local is something we keep in mind all the time, but we need to remember is that sometimes you need to be having the company that can be able to deliver and keeping up with the volume that you have. We need to start defining local in more ways then one, but, obviously, if you see all my chefs going to every farmers' market every day, just run around the restaurants and you will see how much local we buy.
ANDRESOur support for local Virginian wines that we're going to have in our American Eats restaurant. So we try. We do an effort when we can we buy rock fish, striped bass when it's local and it's consistent and it's legal, etcetera, etcetera. So I will do more if you don't think I'm doing enough. But believe me, it's not always going to be this kind of hard time for restaurants to have local versus something that comes from far away, like our shrimp.
ANDRESWhen -- can I buy from Louisiana, is this local to you? Or it's already too far away to be called local? At the end, I know that these fisherman in Louisiana, they need our help, especially after what happened after Katrina. So if I can help them by shopping I'm going to be doing it, even if it's coming from Louisiana. So we need to define local first and foremost.
NNAMDIHere is Robert, in Bethesda, Md. Robert, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ROBERTGood morning. I love the restaurant in Asheville that you mentioned. And recently my wife and I were in Madrid and we ate in a restaurant, I think it was Gastronomic. And the owner/chef worked for you here in Washington. And I just wondered about your thoughts about the economy in Spain.
NNAMDIOkay. From your political hat, you've got to put on your economist hat now, Jose.
ANDRESWell, I think not only Spain, but all Europe, they've been through a tough time. America here, too. It even seems we are recuperating as lower, but surely here in the States. I think in Spain, it's been doing a good job the last three or four years controlling the expenses, controlling the budget. Unemployment is still high, slowly, but surely it's going down. It seems that 2014 is going to be the year where the economy is going to start moving up.
ANDRESAnd if the Spanish economy, European economy is doing well, America is going to do well, too. So we are all together on this and I hope Spain has reached its bottom. And really, all the numbers that we see that show that next year are going to be improving, I hope that we're going to dream as my Christmas gift (laugh) that really the economy, not only in Spain, but all around the world, will improve so we can all enjoy a better world in the process.
NNAMDIThank you for your call, Robert. Joe tweets, "'Made in Spain' was my favorite cooking show. So good I can't watch Food Network anymore. Anymore shows in the works for Jose?"
ANDRESThat's very funny because that show for me was very important because I wanted to show, not only America, but the world, about the Spain no one knows. So me, I have a love and hate with TV. I love TV, but only in the right quantities. My agent…
NNAMDIWell, you've gone Hollywood. Now, you're acting as the food consultant on a series, Hannibal, (laugh), a series that happens to be about a cannibal. How did you get involved and what does that work entail?
ANDRESWell, Bryan Fuller, the executive producer, as many people are meeting in L.A. And we like each other. And he asked me, can you help me with this? And I say, sure. I don't think that Hannibal is a cannibal. I only think that Hannibal is a good man, a person that loves to eat. So what I’m trying to help the script writers, the director, the executive producer is to create who Hannibal was when he was young.
ANDRESSo one of my favorite lines was when he was serving wine and at the end the guest was telling him, where is this wine from? And like, from America. From America? From where? And Hannibal says, from Virginia, the Virginia wine revolution is here. This is the kind of things I try to help, to create the entity, the culinary gastronomic entity of Hannibal.
NNAMDIAnd more "Made in Spain," anymore of those coming out?
ANDRESOne day. I'm thinking about it. Again, I have love and hate with TV. I love live TV, like I love live radio, but sooner or later, even if my agent says that I say no to more TV shows than Johnny Depp himself, one day (laugh) I'll find a show where I belong on and you'll see me soon on TV again.
NNAMDIStarring Jose Andres, James Beard Award-winning chef and partner in 15 restaurants, including Minibar in Washington, four locations of Jaleo and the newly-opened Mi Casa, in Puerto Rico. He's also dean of Spanish studies at the International Culinary Center in New York. Jose, always a pleasure. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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