Why celebrity chef José Andrés is eating less meat


When chef José Andrés brought his new cookbook "Vegetables Unleashed" to “Salon Talks, he gave his recommendations for making vegetables the star of your home-cooked meals, which have been at the center of his recipes since childhood, and offered his take on how America’s big food policies fail to address the root causes of hunger and climate change.

“Boiling vegetables sounds so bad, but to me, boiled vegetables are sexy, are good. It's the best way to bring the flavor of the vegetables forward without spending a lot of time in the kitchen,” Andrés told SalonTV’s Manny Howard. “Boiling vegetables is actually the beginning of a great meal.”

Andrés’ avant-garde cuisine is infused into his award-winning group of 31 restaurants, including the Michelin-starred minibar by José Andrés and his vegetable-obsessed fast casual concept restaurant Beefsteak.

From discovering his affinity for corn fritters from a first edition of Irma Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking,” to drinking his wife’s gazpacho straight from the fridge, vegetables were a familiar presence in Andrés’ home growing up and in his restaurants today.

“In my house the vast majority of the meals are vegetable and fruit-centric—a lot of legumes, a lot of lentils, a lot of chickpeas, and every single root vegetable you can imagine. Meat, I love meat, my family loves meat, fish, but we feel better every time we eat less of it but better quality of it,” Andrés said. “I wanted to start bringing vegetables front and give them the importance they should have in the way we feed ourselves.”

Originally from Spain, Andrés is passionate about immigration reform and has been an advocate for finding solutions to end hunger through his non-profit World Central Kitchen, which notably served over 3.6 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Andrés explained how the focus there has changed from feeding hungry people to changing the food system in Puerto Rico. “As we move away from that disaster and as the island began many months later coming back to normal, World Central Kitchen changed modes and for the last year we've been investing in farms,” he said.

“Puerto Rico imports more than 85, 90 percent of the foods they consume. That cannot be sustained any longer. We began investing in the small farmers that were closer and living the island.”

Watch the interview above to hear Andrés identify the shortcomings of America’s food policies and why he wants to give meatless cheeseburgers a chance. For more food-centric episodes, visit our “Salon Talks” Food playlist.

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