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Jose Andres

Posted: February 2012 | Make a Comment
Chef Jose Andres

MEET THE CHEF
Jose Andres

Have you always wanted to ask your favorite chef what they love to eat when they’re at home? Or perhaps what they think the next big food or dining trend will be? Look no further than this exclusive series of chef interviews by JustLuxe. So read on, as we bring you these answers and more — direct from the culinary masters themselves. Some of the most famous names in the industry, including legendary Michelin-starred chefs, have divulged exciting insider information and personal stories of their journey to the top just for our readers.

Restaurants: Think Food Group includes over 10, including The Bazaar, Jaleo and Oyamel
Location: Throughout the U.S.
Type of Cuisine: Contemporary American, Spanish, Chinese
Accolades: Two-time James Beard Award winner, 2004 Chef of the Year, Bon Appetit

JustLuxe: At what point in your life did you decide to become a chef? What influenced you to do so?

Jose: I was very young when I helped to cook at home. In Spain we cooked at home because we couldn’t afford to go to restaurants so feeding the family at home was custom; it was normal. Watching my father and mother cook is what influenced me the most, and the markets. The markets in Spain are astonishing. It’s amazing, every town has so many, with fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. The goodness of the earth is all around those markets and it's very astonishing to see.

JustLuxe: If you could give a word of advice to an aspiring chef, what would you say?

Jose: This is one of the hardest professions that there is anywhere. It looks very glamorous but at the end of the day you are peeling onions, cutting tomatoes, washing dishes, and getting blood on your hands. That is the truth. Its not glamorous but at the same time that’s exactly what makes it so exciting; that’s the true reality so be aware of that. Don’t look at TV shows or reality shows with glamorous chefs and think “I want to be a chef.” No, don’t do that. Go and spend a day in a real kitchen and make sure they have you do the most difficult work and then decide if you want to be a chef.

JustLuxe: Where do you get inspiration for the design of your dishes and plating?

Jose: Inspiration comes from everywhere. Maybe it comes from working with an artist like Mr. Chihuly in Seattle. Maybe it comes from going to visit professors that are researching at MIT and Harvard, or it’s visiting a market in Istanbul-- the great bazaar. Inspiration comes from anywhere. Inspiration comes from new territory. Inspiration has to happen while you are at work. That is the true meaning of being creative.

JustLuxe: What do you predict as the next big trend in cooking and/or the restaurant industry?

Jose: Well there are many trends but I’m not interested in trends. I am interested in things that are here to stay and sometimes I get there before, like tapas. Twenty years ago we were the only ones really betting on tapas. Other restaurants maybe were doing tapas but not in the way I did them. We believed in what we believed because we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Trends, I’m not interested in. I can tell you that in the restaurant industry, portion sizes will have to be smaller and our guests will have to understand that they have to pay for quality not quantity. Quantity should be something of the past. Unfortunately there are many factors that are not helping to make this happen. The government gives subsidies to some but not to others, encouraging the perception that a bigger plate is what people should be getting for paying "X" amount of dollars. We need to start changing much of thinking behind the food we eat and I can tell you quantity will have to disappear from our vocabulary when we talk about food.

JustLuxe: Which season do you look forward to the most for its ingredients?

Jose: I love all seasons. Each one has its unique moment. For many reasons I like winter because winter is when we get the Iberico pigs in Spain full of fat from eating good acorns. Winter is the hardest season because you don’t have much around you and anything you do have is a true challenge. It’s when you make the great stews like bean stews and soups with cured meats that give the stock so much flavor. I like the winter only because I get to make more healthy dishes that I love to cook at home, but again I only like it because it's one of the most difficult seasons. Quite frankly, to cook in Spain in the summer is a piece of cake. But try to cook in the winter, that is the true challenge and that’s why I love it.

JustLuxe: What places or cities in the world have influenced your cooking the most?

Jose: Well, Spain is obviously my big inspiration, San Sebastian, Cadiz located in the south of Spain. But China lately more and more has been a big influence to understand the flavors of food, and that doesn’t necessarily mean I cook Chinese food. Mexico has been a big influence in how natural the ingredients are. I have a Mexican restaurant {Oyamel} but Mexico has influenced me all around. And at the end of the day, America, where I have been for the last 23 years is getting influences from different places of the world. If you want to be a cook, there is no better place than America, especially in some of the big cities, because you have every single kind of restaurant and cooking from anywhere in the world and that’s very very exciting.

JustLuxe: In your opinion, what innovation has recently influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way?

Jose: I believe innovation and technology has been huge for the restaurant industry. I put full screens in my kitchens where the cooks can manage the orders without having the chefs calling out dishes to them. In some kitchens we have 7 or 8 of these computer screens in eight different stations and that makes me so much more organized and quick and makes the cooks feel as though they are not under so much pressure. Technology and software has been great for the restaurant industry obviously with things such as open table. I think this is only the beginning and we will start to see more.

JustLuxe: What would you say is the current climate of business in the restaurant industry?

Jose: I think the current climate in business is great. Restaurants keep opening everywhere I am. For me the biggest challenge for the future is making sure that the team I have around me makes a decent living, from the dishwasher, to those at the top, but especially those on the lower end of the pay structure. We provide great food but we need to make sure that we don’t sacrifice the living of those that make it happen. That’s one of the big challenges of the restaurant industry.

JustLuxe: What is your favorite dish to prepare at home as opposed to the plate you enjoy preparing in the kitchen?

Jose: I love to prepare fried eggs. My wife helps me out more often than not. I love to make humble dishes when we cook for our daughters like a good lentil stew, chickpea and spinach, and dishes that that are humble. That’s what a chef and his family eat at home more often than not. When I’m at minibar the sky is the limit so I don’t have a particular dish. I like them all.

JustLuxe: Besides gastronomy, what other passions do you have?

Jose: Besides gastronomy, I like gastronomy. And besides that I like collecting books, especially related to food, scuba diving, basketball; playing basketball and watching basketball. I love golf, I love tennis and I love to travel. More importantly I love to try to help others. I think everyone should try to find a small percent of their time to help others.

To learn more about Chef Jose Andres, visit ThinkFoodGroup.com.

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