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Andrés Talks Trends, Trueness, Power Of Working Together For Good

José Andrés at IDDBA
José Andrés

To culinary innovator and humanitarian José Andrés, the retail food industry has the power to ensure no one goes hungry during emergencies.

Furthermore, feeding the world is not as complicated a problem as it may seem and World Central Kitchen – a nonprofit he founded in 2010 to deliver food relief in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters – is an example of how simple solutions can make a big impact.

Those were among the takeaways from Andrés’ wide-ranging address June 10 at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s 2024 Show in Houston.

Andrés, chef/owner of a restaurant group that pioneered Spanish tapas in the United States, began his remarks by retracing the passion for food instilled in him by his parents and his rise from culinary school and through the restaurant industry. Along the way, Andrés said, he came to realize food is a fundamental aspect of human nature and connection.

Andrés went on to discuss food trends – how they can be confusing – and the importance of understanding and adapting to changing consumer preferences while staying true to one’s core values.

Marveling at the confusion, he said: “You cannot eat this because it’s bad for you. Five years later, you should eat more of it because it’s going to make you stronger. Holy cow!

“You don’t want to fall behind if the trend is not your way. But for something like that to happen – change that’s happened dramatically from black to white in a day – [creates] a beautiful range of opportunities. You want to be current, but at the same time you cannot be everyone.”

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Turning to the power of social media, Andrés noted it is key to understand what is happening. 

“You realize that there are people that are non-professional in our food business. These people have no clue,” he said. “But all of a sudden, they make one dish, and they have 100 million viewers. Who cares about the centralization? That person somewhere in the middle of nowhere has made the dish that has illuminated the reactivity of hundreds of millions. That’s interesting.”

Returning to trends, he reiterated the importance of experimentation.

José Andrés
José Andrés

“I’m all about research and development. But let’s make sure that you never forget who you are,” he said. “Change must happen. And we all change – we must change. But make sure that the change happened because you believe in it, you understand it and it still is part of your core DNA. 

“Don’t follow the waves of all the people that are telling you to be there. Just follow your own gut instincts and your heart and then things will be fine. This is the biggest conversation that we’re going to have.”

Long an advocate of food and hunger issues, Andrés is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, World Central Kitchen has partnered with restaurants, small farms and community leaders around the country to fight food insecurity.

In closing, he shared how the organization has overcome challenges to serve 1.5 million meals a day in war-torn Ukraine.

“Working as ‘we the people,’ when we come together in emergencies, there is no way one of our cities, neighborhoods, countries will go hungry. That’s the power we have to work together.”

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Kevin Atwill

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