Chef José Andrés: “You’ll See Me Doing Fast-Food Restaurants in the Next Year” or So
From working under Ferran Adrià at the iconic elBulli in Spain to launching the Bazaar at SLS Hotels, José Andrés has catered to highbrow foodies who are impressed with innovative (and expensive) dishes. But, soon, the Spanish-born chef plans on tackling a whole other world outside his epicure comfort zone: fast food. In an exclusive interview, we caught up with Andrés at South Beach Wine & Food Festival this past weekend to see what’s next for the world-renowned chef.
VF Daily: I hear you’re a busy bee these days . . .
José Andrés: Well, being a great husband, being a good father, and at the same time dealing with all the business coming, trying to be a leader for all the people that were with me, so many projects coming.
What are some of these projects?
We are getting ready to open up SLS Las Vegas, I’m going to have new concepts in there . . . I’m working on my new restaurant in Washington D.C., a Peruvian and Chinese fusion. We’re opening American Eats, which celebrates the history of American cooking, at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner [Virginia]. Man, it’s going to be a busy year.
It sounds like you have your hands full. Will you ever venture into any other territory outside your normal epicurean realm?
Maybe I shouldn’t tell you . . . I’m not going to tell you why, but, I’ve been saying for a while that more and more chefs, we need to be [better at] influencing how to feed the many. We only feed the few. I don’t mean only on hunger issues, which I love to see the food community very involved in, solving the hunger and obesity issues in America and overseas, but I believe there’s an opportunity for chefs to have more of a say in how we’re going to feed the vast majority of this planet. You achieve that through the fast-food restaurants. I guarantee you that in the next 10 to 20 years we are going to see more and more fast-food restaurants lead by chefs.
So you’re telling me you’re interested in exploring the fast-food industry?
It would be right. Let me ask you: Who do you prefer, a clown organizing your menu—with all due respect to Mr. McDonald—or a chef? I do believe it’s a very simple answer.
Sure, I think the answer’s pretty obvious.
You’re going to see more and more of this happening. We see Bobby Flay, we see Steve Ells, who came from the food community, a guy that came from C.I.A. (Culinary Institute of America) with a good culinary background. So already this has been happening, we realize. So it’s nothing new. Ells, the founder of Chipotle, was the first chef to create a fast-food concept of biblical proportions, so we’re going to see more chefs doing this. Ells is a great chef that created a great fast-food restaurant. Behind Chipotle is not a corporation, behind Chipotle is a man that is one of the great cooks, that created a great concept. So this already began many years ago, is nothing new. We need to think those ways. So I’m going to tell you, José wants to contribute to that, creating a fast-food restaurant. Which one? I cannot tell you yet. But will you see me doing fast-food restaurants in the next year, year and a half? Yes.
I’m looking forward to that. Since we’re here in South Beach, who are some local chefs doing great things we should have on our radar?
Well, I love what Michael Schwartz has done with—on paper—you could argue was an unpretentious restaurant that has made a huge mark in Miami. Great guy, very clear on what he wants. There’s many others. But he’s a man of great honor, great talent, and it’s good to see restaurants that do very honest food and become part of the DNA of the city.
This article was published by Vanity Fair. Photo of José Andrés by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images.