The Spanish chef discusses his childhood influences and why he succeeded in school by avoiding class
During the first installment of At the Chef’s Table with José Andrés, The Daily Meal’s video producer, Ali Rosen, talks with the chef about his upbringing in Spain and particularly good family food.
Andrés was born in northern Spain into a family with a great love of cooking. Recalling his childhood, the chef remarks, "Growing up in Barcelona, 30 minutes outside of the city in a small village — this was a farming village and it was known specifically for its cherries. To me, it was fascinating to see to see the beautiful white blanket of trees [in the springtime], and it was very important because it was really the first time I started to realize the importance of the seasons."
With regards to his family and their love of cooking, Andrés explains, "My mom would cook a lot, but my father would too — he was very good at always preparing two or three days ahead, he was always thinking forward." And when it came down to the dishes he loved the most, he explains, "The best meals of the month were never at the beginning of the month when my parents got their pay checks and they would fill up with steak and more expensive fish, but more toward the end of the month when we would be eating a lot of leftovers. To me, it was fascinating that my favorite foods were from the last few days of the month; even on my menu at Jaleo, some of the most popular dishes are those dishes of my childhood."
Andrés enrolled in culinary school when he was 15. "I was not a very good student, per se — I hated the mechanics of learning, so I think my father realized very early on that cooking was something I liked to do, and he read this ad in the newspaper for the 'first private culinary school' in Barcelona that was recruiting new students. The age of acceptance was 18 and above, but I guess because it was a private school they were willing to take anyone."
Check out the video for more from chef Andrés and stay tuned for the upcoming installments of this interview series.