José Andrés is a chef who knows what he wants. And right now, what he wants is to smoke a cigar.
“I’ll meet you at Bar Jack,” he says, gesturing towards The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman’s pool bar that is filled with guests sipping tropical cocktails in the late afternoon sun. “We can talk over there.”
Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary master, as well as an activist, author, educator, TV personality, and proprietor of 31 highly-acclaimed restaurants. Famous for his ground-breaking, creative menus and avant-garde gastronomic style, Andrés is hailed as a pioneer of inventive Spanish tapas in the United States.
He is also hailed as a philanthropist. In February 2018, he was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his efforts with his non-profit group, World Central Kitchen, which is dedicated to finding smart solutions to hunger and poverty worldwide. Andrés made waves with World Central Kitchen in Puerto Rico, helping the island recover from Hurricane Maria that battered the Caribbean in the fall of 2017. After the storm’s devastation—leaving many residents without power, fresh water, and other necessities—Andrés and his team quickly mobilized, created an organized system, and served over three million meals (via 23 kitchens) throughout the municipalities. Today, four kitchens remain open, serving about 8,000 meals per day. His experiences are revealed in his new book, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, which released in early September.