It took chef José Andrés a decade to obtain U.S. citizenship, but since then he's become something of a representative for President Barack Obama's immigration reform agenda. Earlier this week, at a D.C. fundraiser, Obama took the Spanish-born chef aside and called him "exhibit A of giving immigrants an opportunity," and then said the chef was "the quintessential American success story."
This summer, Obama singled out Andrés as an "Outstanding American by Choice," upon completion of his naturalization ceremony. Andrés, for his part, wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed: "As immigrants, we understand better than most that to be an American is a privilege that conveys not just rights but responsibilities... But we also have an obligation to give something back — to enrich the American mosaic with our unique cultures, traditions and ideas."
It seems that José Andrés' success — he owns 11 restaurants in the U.S. — has primed him to become a shining example for President Obama's campaign to ease immigration restrictions. A key element of his second term, immigration reform measures continue to stall in Congress. Could Andrés and his mostly experimental, molecular gastronomy-influenced tapas make a convincing case to Americans who are on the fence about immigration reform? Obama is betting on it.
At the end of the fundraiser on Monday night, Obama said of the golden boy/chef "Michelle loves him. I love him."