Chef José Andrés Calls for More Tourism to Haiti: ‘Eat Incredible Food, Swim in a Waterfall’
In a new PBS documentary, “Undiscovered: Haiti With José Andrés,” the Washington, D.C.-based celebrity chef (minibar, Beefsteak, America Eats) travels to Haiti to explore the country’s culinary traditions and to shed light on the fact that, despite widespread poverty, the history of Haiti is rich with experiences that have shaped the world — it is the only country where slaves have ever overthrown their masters in order to establish an independent republic.
Andrés, a member of The Daily Meal’s Culinary Council, first visited the country after the earthquake in 2010, during which more than 220,000 lives were lost, and more than 300,000 people were injured, according to Oxfam International. In the wake of the disaster, at least 1.5 million people suddenly became homeless.
After his first trip, Andrés launched World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that teaches Haitians about sustainable cooking sources and provides cooking lessons through a network of volunteer chefs. Five years later, however, Andrés is in town to show people a lighter side of Haiti, full of delicious food and proud culture. The chef is particularly a fan of the djon-djon mushroom, a wild mushroom that, when cooked, often turns food black or smoky gray.
Among Andrés’ most important goals, however, is to increase tourism to Haiti in a way that preserves the country’s integrity. “In a single day you can eat incredible food in the street, swim in a waterfall deep in the jungle, hunt for djon-djon mushrooms, and swim at the most perfect beaches that aren’t overflowing with people,” Andrés told The New York Times. “The history is also incredible. Haiti was one of the first places that Christopher Columbus landed in 1492… And, given that Port-au-Prince is only a two-hour flight from Miami, and the prices of everything are affordable, it really is ripe for exploration.”