WASHINGTON — Award-winning chef José Andrés, who has a number of acclaimed restaurants in the D.C. area, is this year’s Humanitarian of the Year, the James Beard Foundation announced Wednesday.
The renowned restaurateur is behind such D.C.-area eateries as Jaleo, Zaytinya and Oyamel, and has won multiple James Beard Awards.
Through his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, and a network of kitchens and volunteers, Andrés served more than 3 million meals in Puerto Rico after last year’s destructive hurricane season.
“José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale,” said Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation, in a statement.
“He has demonstrated how, at the most difficult times, hot-cooked meals provide more than nutrition, they provide dignity,” Davis said.
In a November interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Andrés described how he started helping out after Hurricane Maria. “We didn’t plan, we didn’t meet, we began cooking and began delivering food to the people in need in Puerto Rico,” he had said.
“When you’re hungry, you gather the food, you gather your helpers, you begin cooking, and then you start feeding people.”
The theme of this year’s awards is “rise,” the foundation’s statement said, which “celebrates the community of chefs and industry leaders 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 awards ceremony is May 7 in Chicago.
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