José Andrés is an American hero. Besides being one of the most influential chefs of the past decade, the Spanish-born, D.C.-based chef runs more than two dozen acclaimed restaurants — including a new vegetable-centric fast-casual concept with celebrity investors — and was recently bestowed with a National Humanities Medal by President Obama; in his free time, he trades lawsuits with a certain presidential candidate whose name rhymes with lump.
In a new interview with GQ, the driving force behind minibar, é, Beefsteak, and numerous other hot spots talks about prized ingredients, education as a life-long journey, molecular gastronomy, and of course, Donald Trump.
On learning about food being a life-long journey: “I spend my whole life traveling, eating, milking cows, making cheese, fishing, learning every aspect, and I still [know nothing]! The list of places and things I need to visit and do, I mean… how do you catch a squid under the full moon? Because they say those are better than the others. And I’m like, really? Who says that? But you have to check. You have to find out. It never ends!”
On the versatility of an ingredient as simple as water: “You can steam it, or you can boil it, or you can freeze it, and you can do different forms of ices, and forms of frozen, and you can make croquettes and you can make puff pastry. Water allows us to do anything. You can make different gelatins—gelatins that are hot, gelatins that are soft, gelatins that are hard.”
On always learning: “I’m still in discovery mode. I consider myself still young—I’m a 47 year old walking millennial.”
On just an average day at one of his restaurants: “...everybody showed up at my restaurant, and when I say everybody, I mean everybody: Laurene Jobs; the Secretary of Education; Alice Waters showed up, all on a normal day.
On molecular gastronomy being totally misunderstood: “When we open a bottle of beer and serve it and the foam comes, that’s molecular gastronomy. When we take butter out of the refrigerator and leave it out and the butter becomes softer, that’s molecular gastronomy. So to a degree, we all do molecular gastronomy. That’s not a name I like to use because it makes cooking seem very scientific.”
On the most expensive ingredient: “For me, time is probably the most unique ingredient, the most expensive ingredient. The thing I can not buy is time.”
On Donald Trump’s behavior: “If he will behave that way in a soccer game, he will be thrown out by the referee.”
On politics in general: “It’s not about putting on boxing gloves, it’s about shaking hands.”