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#foodbeast Culture Features FOODBEAST The Katchup

Chef Jose Andres’ Charity Is Re-Activating Closed Restaurants To Feed Seniors

“So World Central Kitchen had to pivot its mission once again in the face of COVID-19. Can’t do a pop-up kitchen, can’t bring thousands of people together, so [the question was] how are we still [able to] get meals to those in vulnerable populations. José Andrés, being a restaurateur, really thought of entrepreneurs, people who were chefs, people who really took risks to cook for people and set up restaurants… And thought this is a perfect way to kickstart the economic engine of the restaurant industry,” outlined Tank Rodriguez, the project lead for a pilot program in Long Beach, California that re-activates closed restaurants and feeds at-risk seniors.

With rejuvenated energy and newfound focus, World Central Kitchen, the non-profit, non-governmental organization founded by world renowned chef, Jose Andres, set out to continue their mission to feed disaster areas globally. As recent guest on the Foodbeast podcast, The Katchup, Rodriguez outlined the encouraging and intimate details into an operation that was able to reactivate closed local restaurants and serve thousands of meals to at-risk seniors.

“In Long Beach, I heard a lot of people getting food to kids that weren’t getting them from school. — incredible work. People who were getting meals to women in shelters — incredible work. I didn’t hear about seniors, which is why I chose the senior population in Long Beach.”

It’s the city he holds two businesses in — a renowned tattoo parlor and a law firm — so the want to help resonated and propelled Rodriguez to go the lengths to make things work logistically and efficiently, all while properly feeding at-risk senior citizens, and restaurants that had to shut down during the pandemic. From him initially cold-calling hundreds of businesses to try and employ their participation to these participating businesses given the opportunity to hire back their staff and re-open to even UPS lending a helping hand by allowing Rodriguez and World Central Kitchen access to their trucks as a means of delivering the meals, details of what they’re doing in Long Beach shed light on uplifting acts of kindness that go above and beyond for their fellow person.

“I believe that things will come back. I believe in the American economy. I believe in the business models that we’ve set up… I don’t know what a month from now is going to look like, but I do know that today, we’re going to get people fed.”

Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast: “#115: Jose Andres Is Re-Activating Restaurants To Feed Seniors,” out now on Spotify, the Apple Podcasts App, and most major platforms where podcasts are heard.

Feature photo: The Q Speaks
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Celebrity Grub Culture Feel Good News

Celebrity Chef Jose Andrés Says Doctors And Nurses Will Eat Free At His Restaurants For A Year

Chef Jose Andres is no stranger to philanthropic efforts centered around his love for food and community through his charity World Central Kitchen, as evidenced by the massive contributions he’s made during this COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it be turning the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium into a community kitchen to feed thousands or jumping on board the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship to feed its guests and crew, Andres has been an active force of good that’s become a regular highlight during the coronavirus news cycle.

In his on-going efforts of doing good through food, Andres has promised in a recent tweet that doctors and nurses will eat for free at his restaurants for the rest of the year.

My mom and dad, and uncle, and godmother were nurses, doctors, pharmacist! When I reopen my restaurants, I hope I will, every active Doctor and Nurse will eat for free for the rest of the year!

We’re all just as grateful for the work that medical workers and other frontline staff have been putting in during this turbulent pandemic, and for Andres to show his gratitude in such a way is to be commended — especially since most of his restaurants are high-ticket, fine dining, one-of-a-kind gastronomic experiences.

This gesture is but another in a long line of positivity and service that the lauded celebrity chef has displayed in his career, and we’re sure that Jose Andres’ generosity will continue on.

Feature photo: Geoff Livingston
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Celebrity Grub Restaurants

Jose Andres Thinks The Term ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ Is Useless

Today, the term “molecular gastronomy” carries with it a sort of culinary mystique. It refers to the blend of science and food in a fine dining restaurant setting, where folks like Jose Andres and Grant Achatz create mesmerizing concoctions never seen before.

With that magical feel and fine dining appeal has come an air of pretentiousness that’s surrounded the term, and it’s something that Andres has not become a fan of. In fact, he feels that “molecular gastronomy” doesn’t really have any meaning to begin with.

Jose AndresPhoto: USDA on Flickr // CC 4.0

Andres gave his take on what “molecular gastronomy” really meant when he sat down on a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air podcast.

“Listen to me, people of America,” he said, “EVERYTHING is molecular. When you drink wine… when you drink beer… when you eat cheese… when your food gets rotten… your pickles, that’s molecular. Everything is molecular, what has happened is that before, we were clueless. We didn’t know why things happened.”

“Now we have knowledge, which makes you powerful,” Andres added. “That’s what gives you the power to do better food, more tasty food, and that’s the way forward. More knowledge in the hands of chefs, and people will be helping us to feed the world better.”

The term “molecular gastronomy” is useless to Andres because its most accurate definition, and the one he abides by, is literally cooking or eating molecules. AKA, what we do to food every single day.

For Andres, his work, or what most people call “molecular gastronomy,” is the next step in the evolution of cooking techniques. Every time he or someone else develops a new way to prepare food, it will eventually spread and become more common especially in today’s day and age. I mean, look at where sous vide is now versus the niche status of it not even a decade ago. There’s also the Instant Pot, which effectively commercialized the once chef-exclusive technique of pressure cooking. Don’t forget about liquid nitrogen, which has become the freezing material of choice for ice cream and is the basis of the now-popular “dragon’s breath” challenge.

It is the rise of these technologies and scientific advances in food that’s helped humanity accelerate. Think about where we would be today if canning didn’t exist. How space travel would have proved useless without the freeze-dried foods astronauts needed for nourishment. Or even how to create a stable mayonnaise that won’t split on you within a couple of hours.

Andres understands the work that he, Achatz, and other so-called “molecular gastronomists” do, could have huge impacts on the future of food. As pretentious as the name may be, we’ll eventually be using at least some of their techniques in our everyday food as well.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Feel Good News

Guy Fieri Wasted No Time In Feeding California Fire Victims and First Responders

A devastating wildfire is mercilessly sweeping through Northern California right now. Known as the Carr Fire, the blaze began a week ago in Redding, CA, scorching more than 98,000 acres and destroying over 850 structures. At the time of publication six lives have already been claimed by the disaster, including that of two firefighters.

While first responders work tirelessly to extinguish the flames and evacuate people, culinary icons are stepping up to lend a hand with the efforts. Among them were celebrity chefs Guy Fieri and Jose Andres.

The fire began last Monday on Highway 299, caused by a spark from the mechanical failure of a vehicle.

Fieri told CNN that as a kid, he would often visit Redding. When news of the fire broke, Fieri, his son, and some of their friends caravanned out from Wine Country to help assist victims and first responders.

Teaming up with with non-profit Operation BBQ Relief, Fieri and his team got to work serving meals to over a thousand evacuees and first responders. Operation BBQ Relief provided the teams with smokers and pit crews to organize the cooking efforts.

They were joined by chef Jose Andres and the non-profit World Central Kitchen as the collective diligently worked to help keep both crews and victims fed. Donations of beef from nearby cattle farmers were provided for the chefs to smoke.

Though many are coming together to tackle this blaze, there is still a long road ahead before the Carr Fire is out. With so much devastation already claimed by the fire, it’s inspiring to see so many come together in an effort to assist those in need during this time.

As of run time of this story, CalFire reports that 20 percent of the fire has been contained.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Hit-Or-Miss Nightlife

Chefs Give Simple Valentine’s Day Cooking Hacks For The Average Guy

With Valentine’s Day approaching, bros might be scrambling to make reservations at high-end restaurants, trying their best to impress that special girl in their life.

Dinner at a nice restaurant is a great idea, but there’s also the other side of it, where you can be more hands-on and opt for a home-cooked meal instead.

I know what you’re thinking, “Pressure!” but it doesn’t have to be that stressful, I promise.

While at their new restaurants inside the new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, we had a chance to ask some of the best chefs in the world to help us guys out a bit.

A veritable who’s who in the culinary world, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Marcus Samuelsson, and Jose Andres all chimed in with some Valentine’s Day dinner tips for the average Joe like you and I. With their romantic cooking expertise on your side, putting together an amazing Valentine’s Day meal doesn’t have to be so nerve wracking.

First off, they all basically said that simplicity, along with togetherness are major keys. I know we can make that happen.

Check out what each chef had to say and make that special night as memorable as possible:

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Michael Voltaggio – Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse, Top Chef Masters

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Photo by Isai Rocha/Foodbeast

“One of my tips for Valentine’s Day — this is going to sound really dorky and cheesy — but, go to Trader Joe’s and get some pizza dough — or make pizza dough if you have time — have all the toppings out, and have fun just making a pizza together. The experience of making something together is more romantic than making food for someone.

If you’re a chef, and you know how to [twirl a pizza], you can think about that movie, ‘Ghost,’ do that with pizza dough. It works.”

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Bryan Voltaggio – Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse, Top Chef Masters

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Photo by Isai Rocha/Foodbeast

“Along the same lines, cooking together rather than for somebody. If two people are cooking, divide the menu and bring something together to the table. One’s doing a simple salad, one’s doing something as simple as a steak, but you’re both having some involvement.

If you really want to cook for someone else, pay attention to what they like. Cook for someone else, not for yourself.”

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Marcus Samuelsson – Marcus, Top Chef Masters

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Photo by Isai Rocha/Foodbeast

“Engaging and doing something together. You want to eat something with your hands. Maybe you want to cook the first course together. You can do strawberries dipped in chocolate, as long as you eat them together. Maybe you can do pasta as a first course. Have one piece of steak you share together so it doesn’t have to be so heavy.”

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José Andrés – Fish by José Andrés, Iron Chef America

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Photo by Isai Rocha/Foodbeast

“Romanticism is very much a state of mind. There’s nothing less romantic than a sink full of pots that you have to clean after. If you want to be romantic, make sure you make the most with the least. Romanticism in this case is having enough time to look at the person you love, as many times as you can, deep in their eyes, and that means making sure your sink is empty, so you have more time to do other things.”