Chef José Andrés has been named the James Beard Foundation’s “Humanitarian of the Year” for 2018. Andrés earned the accolade largely because of his efforts with World Central Kitchen to feed the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Working alongside a network of local and national chefs and volunteers, the chef helped to serve over 3.3 million meals in the devastated U.S. territory.
A press release for the culinary arts foundation announced this year’s theme as “RISE,” which is intended to highlight “the community of chefs and industry leaders who rise to the occasion — whether to feed those in need, to stand up for what they believe in, to support their local communities, or to express their personal stories through their cooking.”
The awards gala is slated to be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7. Chef Andrés will be awarded with his new title along with other James Beard Award winners for the year. For his culinary rather than humanitarian work, Andrés has previously earned the foundation’s Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award in 2003 and the overall Outstanding Chef award in 2011 for his work at Jaleo and Minibar, respectively.
“I am honored to be receiving and sharing this award with my team at World Central Kitchen, #ChefsforPuertoRico, #ChefsforCalifornia, good friends like Robert Egger and LA Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen and all of the incredible people I have been fortunate to meet over the years through the simple act of cooking a hot meal,” said Andrés in a statement.
“Whether it’s teaching and preparing a meal alongside people who have just started a new chapter, empowering communities through clean cookstoves, or cooking meals for people who have experienced unimaginable devastation, I’ve learned that food is powerful. It nourishes, but it also has the power to be an agent of hope and change.”
“Humanitarian of The Year” is the perfect title for Andrés, who is undoubtedly the hero we need right now.