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José Andrés honoured with American Express Icon Award

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The chef and humanitarian adds yet another award to a long list of industry recognitions

Spanish American chef and restaurateur José Andrés has been announced as the recipient of the inaugural American Express Icon award, presented as part of the 2020 World’s 50 Best Restaurants programme.

The award, launched to celebrate an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the restaurant industry and who has used their name and profile to be a driver for change, will be presented to the chef at the gala event, taking place in Singapore on 25 June 2019.

“I’m very humbled to receive this award, to make sure that I will give voice to those who are voiceless,” says Andrés. “I will try to make sure that we bring hope, one plate of food at a time.”

Achieving beyond the kitchen

Having arrived in the US from Spain in 1991 with just $50 to his name, Andrés has since gone on to accomplish stunning achievements in his adopted home country. Born in Asturias in nortehrn Spain, he spent two years working with Ferran Adriá at El Bulli before moving overseas.

His first restaurant was Jaleo, a tapas restaurant in Washington DC – today his ThinkFoodGroup includes more than 30 restaurants, including the two Michelin-starred minibar by José Andrés, which serves some of the most avant-garde cuisine in the world.

His most recent venture is Mercado Little Spain in New York City’s ambitious new Hudson Yards development where he has partnered with Ferran and Albert Adriá.

But it is his endeavours outside the kitchen that have pushed him to the forefront of the wider world of gastronomy. His efforts through non-profit organisation World Central Kitchen to provide nearly four million meals to the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria kickstarted a whole new direction for him.

World Central Kitchen has since stepped in to help people in natural disasters ever since and earlier this year supported workers caught up in the government shutdown.

More than a chef

Andrés has twice been included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, in 2018 he was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and this year has seen him collecting a nomination he Nobel Peace Prize. Andrés also received Foodservice Consultant‘s inaugural Editor’s Choice: People Of The Year award from FCSI for his humanitarian efforts in 2017. His book recounting his experience in Puerto Rico, We Fed An Island, is a New York Times bestseller.

“José Andrés is more than just a superb chef and restaurateur,” says William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “Not only has he brought fantastic, authentic, forward-thinking Spanish food to the US, but through his World Central Kitchen project he has helped feed millions of people denied access to nutritious food as a result of natural disasters. Chef Andrés embodies a character that has used his talent in the kitchen and subsequent position of power and access for a wider good, which makes him the perfect winner of the first global American Express Icon Award.”

Tina Nielsen