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James Beard Foundation Names José Andrés Humanitarian of the Year

The D.C. restaurateur is being honored for all the aid he’s provided around the world

Thinkfoodgroup co-founder and humanitarian aid organizer José Andrés.
Our Local Commons/Thinkfoodgroup

Global restaurateur and Eater Icon of the Year José Andrés is now also the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year.

A previous recipient of James Beard Awards for his cooking and empire building, JBF is recognizing Andrés this time around for the millions of meals (over 3 million and counting) he’s provided to residents of Puerto Rico still working to piece together their lives following the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Andrés, along with other like-minded celebrity chefs and the growing army of volunteers that have rushed to join his relief-oriented organization World Central Kitchen, has spent the past year rushing from one disaster-ravaged area to the next.

“José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale,” JBF executive vice president Mitchell Davis said in a press release. “He has demonstrated how, at the most difficult times, hot-cooked meals provide more than nutrition, they provide dignity. And we couldn’t imagine a more fitting honoree this year as we celebrate how chefs and our industry Rise.”

Andrés thanked the many supporters who have joined him in this Herculean task.

“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,” he said in a prepared 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.”

This year’s James Beard Foundation Awards gala is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.