Chef José Andrés moved from Spain to the United States two decades ago. Known for introducing Spanish tapas to the American palate, he’s also hosted cooking shows and taught at Harvard (as well as blogged for us at theplate.nationalgeographic.com). Andrés, 45, owns 20 restaurants, but his passion for feeding people continues long after the tables have been cleared.
You founded a humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen. What drives your commitment to feed the hungry?
My inspiration comes from the unknown names, the people who help, day in and day out, and don’t expect anything in return. One thing I did was go to Haiti after the earthquake to cook for people. I think we all should be committing a part of our time for the betterment of the lives of others. This should be a mission statement of humanity, because we can all probably do the same with a little bit less, and that little bit less can be huge for somebody else. My wife and I used our own money to create World Central Kitchen.
Why does food education matter?
Food is national security. Food is economy. It is employment, energy, history. Food is everything. If we approached many of today’s issues understanding this importance, we’d be making much better decisions. I believe everybody should be aware, not just of the food they eat but of the implications of eating it.
Do you see a future where sustainable choices will be accessible to more people?
I do, but I think there are problems—in the way we think about cities, for example. If we created huge areas of farmland, especially in poorer places, it would make better food more affordable. What if parts of New York and Washington, D.C., were farms? I understand nobody wants to do that and it might sound crazy, but if we were smart about eating locally and sustainably, we would do great things.
José Andrés feels that food is much more than sustenance. What do you think is the importance of food education? Let us know—and also tell us who you'd like to see in 3 Questions—in the comments.