2012 American Chef of the Year: José Andrés Slideshow

2012 American Chef of the Year: José Andrés

"For me, opening restaurants is about telling a story. This is true of everything that I do, so through food I’ve been able to learn about the history, culture, art, music, and cuisines of the world. I love that. What I look for is the story that inspires the menu, the place, and the experience. That is what I need to begin my ideas."

Chef Andrés on Who Inspires Him

"Who inspires me to be better? To do greater things? Next to my wife and daughters, I think it has to be the cooks that I am meeting right now in Haiti. You know that I’ve recently been traveling throughout this amazing country. I am humbled and inspired by the determination, the love of food, and the love of life that I see there in all these faces."

Andrés Regarding Tasting Menus

"But with the long tasting menus, I believe some critics are worse than those during the days of Galileo, of what can and cannot be allowed. In this world there is space for everything, for a hot dog in the streets of Manhattan, a taco at a truck in Los Angeles, a tapas hunt going from bar to bar in streets of Seville, a hearty bistro meal at a café, and sometimes, yes, a 30-course tasting menu in an elegant restaurant. It should be one of the most fascinating experiences anyone can have.

In the end, as Juan Mari Arzak said, there are only two types of cooking: the good one and the bad one. So if you don’t enjoy long tasting menus with lots of different flavors and textures, you are free to eat as you like, but don’t make a statement like it’s an ultimate truth. Long menus come from before the Roman times. And tasting menus will be here long after all of us reading this are gone. And actually I know, I’ve been to the future, and now that I’m back, I know so…"

Andrés Regarding the State of American Dining

"Foie Bomb." Foie mousse and caramelized crispy sugar.

"I think food in America is truly unique. We are such a vast country with such a variety of regional ingredients, traditions, and stories. Many friends in Europe make assumptions about what they think American food is. I always tell them they have no idea how rich and also refined it really is. The America Eats Tavern we opened last year in celebration of our collaboration with the National Archives was astonishing for me. Our research peeled back layer after layer of amazing stories and peoples that have shaped the cooking of this country. I wanted to celebrate that. We shouldn’t lose those stories or connections."

Andrés Regarding the Most Important Lesson He's Learned

"Pine Snow Honey." Pine flavored snow ice with a touch of honey.

"I think the most important lesson I’ve learned has been to not be afraid of failure and to experiment because inspiration most often happens when you work outside your comfort zone. Some of my biggest discoveries have happened by working and learning with people from other fields like the great artist Dale Chihuly and his beautiful glass sculptures, or by working with the scientists at MIT and Harvard. Even though I’ve been cooking for many years I’m still learning how to be a chef. I’m always learning new techniques and improving beyond my own knowledge because there is always something new to learn."