Bethesda's José Andrés Named James Beard Humanitarian of the Year

Restaurateur's nonprofit has served more than 3 million meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

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José Andrés

Ryan Forbes/Via James Beard Foundation

Celebrity chef and Jaleo owner José Andrés was awarded the James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award on Wednesday for his philanthropic efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

When announcing the award, the James Beard Foundation noted Andrés’ work with his nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which has served more than 3 million meals in Puerto Rico since September. The foundation is known for its prestigious awards it confers on chefs annually.

Andrés, who lives in Bethesda, owns Jaleo on Bethesda Row and D.C. restaurants including Oyamel and minibar. He will accept the award at a May 7 ceremony in Chicago.

Andrés wrote in a statement that he was honored to receive the award and would share it with World Central Kitchen, other collaborators and “the incredible people I have been fortunate to meet over the years through the simple act of cooking a hot meal.”

“Whether it’s teaching and preparing a meal alongside people who have just started a new chapter, empowering communities through clean cookstoves, or cooking meals for people who have experienced unimaginable devastation, I’ve learned that food is powerful,” he wrote. “It nourishes, but it also has the power to be an agent of hope and change.”

The James Beard Foundation previously named Andrés the best chef of the Mid-Atlantic region in 2003 and outstanding chef in 2011. He has earned other recognitions for his restaurants and his work, and in 2015 he became the first chef to receive a National Humanities Medal from the White House.

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