Chef José Andrés's Home Cooking Videos Are the Mood Boost We All Need Right Now
Chef José Andrés has become the face of the restaurant industry’s natural inclination to be of service. His global work through the organization he and his wife Patricia founded a decade ago, World Central Kitchen, has been invaluable in feeding communities ravaged by disasters both natural and man-made. His willingness to put himself front and center in important dialogue with the power structure around issues of immigration, hunger, and underserved communities has resulted in everything from his name being put forth to the Nobel committee to a TIME magazine cover. Throughout, he has maintained his exceptional restaurants, his television appearances, and his personal support of industry events.
I had the pleasure of meeting him very briefly at the first Chow Chow Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2019. He was there to support some chef friends and popped into a dinner I was attending. And while he entered the room unobtrusively, just there as a private citizen wanting to celebrate his pals, as soon as someone spotted his unmistakable bearded-and-barrel-chested self, the room erupted in applause and a spontaneous standing ovation. Several of us welled up as we showed this very hardworking good man how much we appreciate all he does. He blushed. Literally. And waved us off, laughing, telling us all to keep eating, and headed back to the kitchen to commune with the chefs.
So, it is no wonder that at this time of global crisis, Andrés is hard at work. And while the world is made ever so much better by the 100,000 meals his World Central Kitchen relief teams are serving every day across the country, it is a more unexpected service that he is providing that I really want to celebrate.
José Andrés is filming the most fantastic, messy, real-life cooking videos at home with his daughters, and they are giving me life.
Not stylish, not fancy, not elevated dishes. No lighting, no script, no gentle expression of technique. Andrés is a bull in a china kitchen: Food is flung about, prepped speedily, and dumped with flourish and aplomb into giant pots, all while his charming daughters roll their eyes affectionately, save dish towels from falling into the stove flames, and assist him on keeping to task as his gregarious nature has him going off on the occasional tangent. Every episode Andrés posts as part of the #RecipesforthePeople hashtag is dedicated to first-liners in the novel coronavirus crisis: medical workers, immigrants, grocery store workers, farmers. Most videos have a song that Andrés and his family are trying to complete the recipe to, many from the musical score to Hamilton. (Andrés confesses in one episode to having a man crush on Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
In any time, these videos would be soul-uplifting, but during these times, they are more like cosmic life preservers. The exuberant joy they share, the clear and easy affection of the family, the down-and-dirty “anyone can do this” approach to cooking, the awareness of lack of ingredients and the need to be economical, all while dancing and singing and making a glorious mess. They are, as Andrés’s work often is, exactly what we need right now.
Get started watching right here
Here are some more favorites to get you hooked (and pick up some possible new ideas for dinner tonight!):
Watch this leftovers recipe as much for his daughter’s attempts to stop him from talking about the relative nudity of garlic.
Chicken and cauliflower is a perfect easy and adaptable recipe that comes together in minutes.
This fried rice couldn’t be less Asian, or more charming. A great way to use up leftover bits from the fridge.
For more, follow @chefjoseandres on Instagram and watch the Story space for updates. You can also go to #RecipesforthePeople on the platform for his and other chef’s posts. For more about the amazing work of World Central Kitchen, follow them on Instagram @wckitchen and if you want to assist them in their work, click on this link to donate.