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Spanish chef and humanitarian José Andrés has claimed the inaugural American Express Icon Award from World’s 50 Best Restaurants and will officially collect his award at the 50 Best ceremony in Singapore on June 25.
“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.”
Jose Andrés, who was named on the TIME 100 most influential people list this year said: “I'm very humbled to receive this award, to make sure that I will give voice to those who are voiceless. I will try to make sure that we bring hope, one plate of food at a time.”
In an interview with World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Andres explains how he came to be so involved in his humanitarian world of feeding those in need.
“Every time there is a disaster, people need to eat. And I realised that there is not a professional system of cooks to do that. And so we began asking, “What if we are the cooks delivering those meals?” And that’s how we began,” he says.
Andres can now add the American Express Icon Award to an awards cabinet that is already creaking under the weight of his accolades. In 2016 he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama. In 2018 he was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his work with World Central Kitchen, in providing nearly 4 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He was also nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.