José Andrés Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Chef José Andrés
Chef José Andrés Courtesy of Think Food Group
Acclaimed chef José Andrés has won many accolades for his culinary expertise. Now, he may receive one of the world's greatest honors — and it's for being a human.

Late yesterday, it was confirmed that Andrés is nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Washington Post, Congressman John Delaney of Maryland acknowledged he had nominated the chef for the 2019 award because of Andrés' work in feeding millions of people. In the nomination document, Delaney said the chef "has proven to be world-class in this essential humanitarian field. With an incredible spirit and an innovative mind, Mr. Andrés is solving one of the world’s ancient problems and supplying world leaders with a new road map to provide more effective disaster relief in the future.”

The Post reported that Delaney "could not discuss any specifics of his nomination or what motivated it" and that the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the annual prize, "discourages nominators from making any public announcements."

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 1901. The committee is comprised of five members appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. According to its website, any person who meets the nomination criteria may submit a nomination. In 2018, there were 331 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, the second-highest number ever. The award went to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, who have "made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, war crimes." President Barack Obama won the prize in 2009.

The nomination of Andrés will likely not be officially confirmed by the Nobel Committee since by rule "the names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later." That means we will only know if the chef and restaurateur actually wins the prize in fall 2019.

In the past year or so, Andrés, who owns the Bazaar by José Andrés and Bazaar Mar in the Miami area, has traveled to Puerto Rico, Florida, North Carolina, and Guatemala with his nonprofit group, World Central Kitchen. When hurricanes or other disasters strike, the chef can be found right on the line helping to bring nutrition to people in need. In Puerto Rico alone, his organization served more than 3.5 million meals. Last year, the chef was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and Miami New Times named him best philanthropist.

Just this past week, the chef was in California to provide food and support to first responders and survivors of the Camp Fire that killed 88 people with dozens still missing. Chef Richard Hales (Sakaya Kitchen, Blackbrick, Bird & Bone) witnessed firsthand why Andrés is worthy of such an honor.

Hales was in Sonoma visiting his good friend Guy Fieri for the Thanksgiving holiday when plans suddenly changed. "Guy called me and said that chef Andrés asked him to help up in Chico, California, with World Central Kitchen. Guy asked me to join his crew." The city of Chico has set up two disaster recovery centers in response to the Camp Fire disaster.

At 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Hales found himself feeding about 15,000 people with turkeys provided by Fieri. "As I was carving a turkey, I felt this huge bear hug behind me and it was chef Jose. He thanked me for being there, snuck a piece of turkey, and scurried off to speak to another group."  Hales said he wasn't even sure at the time if the legendary chef knew who he was, "but you can just feel how grateful he is for all of us there."

Hales said that during the meal service, Andrés was hands on. "He filled us in on both the details and the big picture. He wanted everyone engaged."

As Hales was leaving for the day, the humanitarian chef waved for him to stop his car. "He ran over and as I got out of the SUV, he gave me a huge hug, thanked me, and said he would see me in Miami."

After cooking about 700 turkeys in a parking lot in the freezing rain on Thanksgiving with the chef, Hales has no doubt Andrés is worthy of one of the world's highest honors. "Chef José Andrés is a very special human being."
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss