The importance of being called José Andrés

José Andrés, the most famous chef, says that "Israelis, in the deepest part of their hearts, know that food is not a weapon of war".

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 11:16
7 Reads
The importance of being called José Andrés

José Andrés, the most famous chef, says that "Israelis, in the deepest part of their hearts, know that food is not a weapon of war".

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

"Israel is better than the way it is waging this war. It's better than blocking food and medicine to civilians. It is better than killing humanitarian workers who had coordinated the movements with the Israel 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 can't win this war by starving an entire population," he adds.

If anyone has the pan by the handle, it is this chef forged in the legendary Bulli and whose influence transcends far beyond the stoves of his many restaurants in the United States, his other country.

Not only is he the most famous, several bodies away from anyone with three Michelin stars, but he has used fame to establish himself as a very influential voice. As some suggest, José Andrés speaks and Washington listens. His powerful megaphone means that he is not only noticed in the USA.

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reluctant to comment on the deadly attacks on Gaza, released a video in which he accepted responsibility for the bombing. Other leaders in his executive branch offered an unusually sensitive response to his usual attitude of dismissing questions about the landslide military campaign, analysts noted.

President Joe Biden, who spoke with José Andrés, issued a statement in which he condemned Israel in very harsh terms and assured that he was "outraged" by the events.

"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 noted that Biden was particularly angry, although at the moment he does not seem willing to go further and modify the policy of support for Israel, including the transfer of weapons.

From tapas, with a menu that is attractive to many politicians and that the Obamas frequented when they resided in the White House, José Andrés became 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 earthquake in Haiti in 2010, with massive destruction and tens of thousands of dead, was the starting point of his humanitarian organization. Since then he has been present in any natural or man-made misfortune to offer food.

The status of a benchmark for activism increased with the refusal to open a restaurant in Donald Trump's hotel in the capital, just as he was taking office, to focus the campaign on criminalizing immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the Lower 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 lady, Jill Biden.

A secular saint, according to a Democratic strategist.