Cooking on the Frontlines: Meet ProMat Keynote Speaker José Andrés

Urgency is the default state of being for ProMat keynote speaker José Andrés. His humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen (WCK), sprung from his wife’s idea that people in crisis need food now.

In 2010, Andrés cooked for Haitians after a massive earthquake. Since then, his WCK has grown to serve meals on such frontlines as the Australian bushfires, the Kentucky tornadoes, and the war in Ukraine. Demonstrating Andrés’ sense of immediacy, WCK began providing food to Ukrainians just one day after Russia invaded the country. WCK is now at the forefront of relief efforts in Turkey in response to the recent earthquake.

His Early Cooking Years

Andrés grew up in Spain and learned how to cook from his parents and famed chef Ferran Adrià. In his 20s, Andrés moved to the United States and began to establish restaurants. He simultaneously pursued his interest in philanthropy, volunteering at a food kitchen in Washington, DC. 

You Can Eat at His Restaurants in Chicago

Andrés and his restaurant group operate numerous restaurants in the United Statesincluding the windy city. If you want to dine at one while attending ProMat 2023, check out Jaleo or Bazaar Meat. Andrés restaurants have earned two Michelin stars and four Bib Gourmands (which is a Michelin award reserved for reasonably priced meals). 

He Stars in a TV Series

You can soon watch Andrés explore Spain’s culinary history with his daughters. This 6-part series will air on Discovery+ at the end of December 2022. This is not Andrés first introduction to television. He was also featured in fellow ProMat keynote speaker Ron Howard’s 2022 documentary, “We Feed People.” Additionally, Andrés is the voice of Chef Al in Disney’s Junior’s “Firebuds.”

Andrés Believes in Simple Solutions

Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show,” Andrés said that he enters a disaster zone with a “Let’s cook!” mindset. “Everybody wants to join this simple idea,” he stated. “Big problems, actually they have very simple solutions.” 

Andrés also champions the notion of “longer tables,” believing that meals are a way to bring a diverse group together. Andres shares his food stories and value system through his “Longer Table” podcast.

He Deals with Supply Chain Issues

Andrés is no stranger to supply shortages. In an interview with McKinsey, he described how Covid impacted the Spanish olive oil and cheeses used in his restaurants. He also has to confront supply chain issues in his work with WCK. His organization has created a Food Producer Network in order to strengthen the food supply available during future disasters. 

He is a ProMat Keynote Speaker

To hear this humanitarian and renowned chef talk logistics and healing the world through meals, attend “A Conversation with José Andrés”. It will take place at 8:45 am at the McCormick Center in Chicago.