The importance of being called José Andrés

José Andrés, the most famous chef, maintains that “Israelis, deep in their hearts, know that food is not a weapon of war.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 04:21
6 Reads
The importance of being called José Andrés

José Andrés, the most famous chef, maintains that “Israelis, deep in their hearts, know that food is not a weapon of war.”

This was written Wednesday in The New York Times, after the tragedy of losing seven colleagues from World Central Kitchen (WCK) in a bombing on the Gaza Strip, where they had gone to satisfy the hunger of the besieged.

“Israel is better than the way it is fighting this war. It's better than blocking food and medicine from civilians. “It is better than killing humanitarian workers who had coordinated their movements with the Israeli defense forces,” he continues.

“In the worst conditions, after the worst terrorist attack in its history, it is time for the best of Israel to emerge. You can't save the hostages by bombing every building in Gaza. “You cannot win this war by starving an entire population,” he adds.

If anyone has the upper hand, it is this chef forged in the mythical Bulli and whose influence transcends far beyond the kitchens of his numerous restaurants in the United States, his other country.

Not only is he the most famous, several body lengths away from anyone with three Michelin stars, but he has used that fame to become a very influential voice. As some suggest, José Andrés speaks and Washington listens. His powerful megaphone makes him pay attention not only in the US.

The response to the death of his collaborators provoked fierce reactions at the highest levels of the US government and Congress. But, in addition, his ability to influence achieved an unusual mea culpa from the Israeli executive.

Prime Minister Beniamin Netanyahu, little given to commenting on the deadly attacks on Gaza, released a video in which he accepted responsibility for the bombing. Other leaders of his administration offered an unusually sensitive response to his usual attitude of dismissing questions about the military's scorched earth campaign, analysts noted.

President Joe Biden himself, who spoke with José Andrés, issued a statement in which he condemned Israel in very harsh terms and said he felt “outraged” by what happened.

“This is not an isolated incident. “This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of the number of humanitarian workers who have died,” he stressed.

Government sources highlighted that Biden was especially angry, although at the moment he does not seem willing to go further and modify his policy of support for Israel, including the shipment of weapons.

Starting with tapas, with a menu that was attractive to many politicians and that the Obamas frequented when they lived in the White House, José Andrés established himself as an operator of global philanthropy in the spheres of power in Washington, especially the progressive ones. His visits to the presidential residence or the Capitol are repeated.

The 2010 Haiti earthquake, resulting in massive destruction and tens of thousands of deaths, was the starting point for its humanitarian organization. Since then he has been present in any natural or human-caused disaster to offer food.

His status as a reference for activism increased with his refusal to open a restaurant in Donald Trump's hotel in the capital, just when he was taking office, for focusing his campaign on criminalizing immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House, nominated him for the Nobel Prize. He has recorded a podcast with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and collaborated, among others, with Vice President Kamala Harris or the first president, Jill Biden.

A secular saint according to a Democratic strategist.