Food for Thought

Celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés chats with SL about philanthropy, passion projects, his homeland and olives, natch.

By Lisa Shames

Photo by Jeff Schear Visuals

July 26, 2018 9:23 PM

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Chef José Andrés has been giving a lot of speeches lately. It goes with the territory of receiving a lot of awards, including being named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” (his second time, no less) and his recent James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year. Andrés is nothing if not passionate—about his 29 award-winning restaurants and various humanitarian causes. His work aiding Puerto Rico through his World Central Kitchen is nothing short of miraculous. Andrés is also equally passionate when it comes to his native Spain. We caught up with him in Chicago during his recent tour as brand ambassador for Olives from Spain.

Why Olives from Spain for you?

Sometimes it’s hard to talk without being chauvinistic about my nature, but olives are very much history for me. No other country on the face of earth has had as many olive trees as Spain. They’re part of the Spanish culture and very assimilated in our DNA.

What motivated you to become an activist?

I’m not any different than any other person in America or overseas. Everybody has gestures of good. I’m just one more guy. At the end, I think we all need to do the most we can with the things we have. If we can help contribute to make the lives of others slightly better, then that’s a good effort.

How do you stay so positive?

I only see the best humanity can do. In Puerto Rico, I was a part of an operation. I saw so many men and women overcoming all kinds of obstacles to take care of fellow Puerto Ricans in this amazing part of America that they are living in. And that fulfills you a lot and brings you a lot of hope that very much anything is possible.