José Andrés is in Austin for the annual SXSW festival, and yesterday, the D.C.-based chef sat down to discuss the future of food with Recode’s Kara Swisher. Andrés, whose restaurant empire includes the fine dining Jaleo, fast-casual Beefsteak, and even a food truck, envisions a world in which technology can help feed the world.
At this point, Andrés is as much a humanitarian figure as well as a culinary one. The chef spent the last year speaking out against Trump and acting as an advocate for the people of Puerto Rico through his efforts with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen. In his discussion with Swisher, he addresses his ongoing work on the island, reiterates his support for immigrants, and, in response to a question from the audience, shares his stance on the #MeToo movement.
Watch the talk in full over at Recode, and see below for the Andrés’s best quotes.
On the future of food:
“If we’re going to be feeding 9 billion [people], we need to be open in many ways. Impossible meats [ed note: Impossible is the brand behind the meatless Impossible Burger] is a great thing.”
On eating local:
“When we say local and organic, the same person who is telling me this, the jeans he or she is wearing are from Cambodia and they’re drinking a bottle of champagne that happens to be from France from 1997. That’s not seasonal and that’s not local. And obviously that doesn’t entitle you to give me a talk about seasonal and local, you moron.”
On vegetables as the biggest trend in food:
“A vegetable — a pineapple — you put it in [your mouth], it’s elegant from the beginning almost to the end. Why are we eating meat still? That’s why women seem to be eating more vegetables than men, because women always are smarter. Men, we’re stupid.”
On robots replacing chefs:
“Eventually one day this will happen. Already, to a degree, it’s happening. Already robots are doing big-system productions. But one day we’re going to have a robot being José and, quite frankly, I cannot wait so I can be playing golf.”
On tangling with Trump:
“I respect my president, who is our president. We don’t all like the same music and we don’t all like the same foods. But we respect people liking other foods and we respect people liking other musicians. That’s not any different with the president. I think the potential for improvement is huge and that we should celebrate [that].”
On undocumented immigrants:
“My restaurants don’t have enough people. I need to be hiring more people and sometimes I don’t have the workforce. We need those 11-plus million undocumented to be part of the American Dream because right now they’re ghosts. They’re the ones helping us run many parts of our lives.”
“Number one, I have three daughters. On my end, as a father, I want the best for my daughters. Number two, it’s been a world that’s been happening and now [I’m] super aware. Number three, I am a #MeToo movement supporter. This is not restaurants, this is society.”
On establishing HR protocols in his restaurants:
“In my restaurants, I don’t know if we are perfect or not, but I know we have a very good human resources system of addressing this. But we cannot make it in a way that becomes kind of a structure that is so rigid that it’s corporate. It’s humanity. It’s making sure I take care of you so you take care of me, and making sure that if we see something we have to say something, and making sure that everybody feels comfortable enough to speak up and they have a place that they can come to us for help. But, we cannot be allowing this to happen.”
On practicing what he preaches:
“I’m not a perfect guy. I scream sometimes more than I should and I raise my voice more than I should, but I aim to be a better person, and I aim to be a better guy. But everybody is going to have to rethink their morals and rethink what’s your engagement with others. And to this day, I believe our society has failed, especially women. And it’s good that this conversation has become so public. And again, I repeat, it’s up to everybody to check on everybody.”
• Watch Kara Swisher’s full interview with chef José Andrés at SXSW [Recode]