♪ This is my kitchen table and also my filing system.
David, voice-over: Over much of the past 3 decades, I've been an investor... David: The highest calling of mankind, I've often thought, was private equity.
[Laughter] David, voice-over: And then I started interviewing.
I watch your interview because I know how to do some interviewing.
David, voice-over: I've learned from doing my interviews how leaders make it to the top...
I asked him how much he wanted.
He said, "250."
I said, "Fine."
I didn't negotiate with him.
I did no due diligence.
I have something I'd like to sell.
David, voice-over: And how they stay there.
David: You don't feel inadequate now because being only the second-wealthiest man in the world, is that right?
[Laughter] One of the world's greatest chefs is also one of the world's greatest humanitarians.
His name is Jose Andres.
He owns and operates 30 restaurants around the United States.
He also operates World Central Kitchen, something that he helped to start to feed people in times of great distress around the world.
It's an incredible gesture for which he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
He's also a great chef at his own house.
I've eaten at his house, and I can tell you there is no better meal you're ever gonna have than eating at the home of Jose Andres.
Well, today I'm here with Jose Andres, who's the world-famous chef and a world-famous humanitarian.
And we are doing this in a very unusual place-- my kitchen, which I suspect is not used quite as well as your kitchen.
So, Jose, thank you very much for coming to my house in Bethesda and to my kitchen.
Andres: Thank you for having me.
It's an honor to be here, really.
Rubenstein: So, yesterday, I was at your house and you cooked me a terrific meal.
And I've been at your house a number of times.
Andres: On top of everything, he has a TV show!
Rubenstein: One thing I don't know how to do is cook.
The only thing I've ever cooked in my life is when you put something in a microwave.
I call that cooking.
So is that counting?
Or that doesn't count?
Andres: I think microwaving is cooking, too.
Rubenstein: OK. What you're planning to make is some type of... fried rice?
Andres: I'm making something that you are gonna like because I know you love vegetables.
So, let's talk about your background and what you're doing which is quite extraordinary, but to give people a sense of it, you are Spanish by birth and you came to the United States originally with the Spanish Navy.
Is that right?
Andres: Yeah, first time.
Well, in Spain, the military is mandatory, back in the days.
Was a dream of mine to be in the Navy.
Uh...they put me to cook for the Admiral of Spain.
Because I already was a young cook with talent.
I already was champion of Spain of young cooks.
Rubenstein: Oh, really?
You had already had a background.
Andres: Yeah, I began working in kitchens when I was 14, pretty much, 14, 15.
So, in the military, all of a sudden--Admiral, but I'm, like, "Sir, I don't want to cook for you, with all due respect."
"What are you--you-- what are you saying?
This is the best position in the Navy."
Rubenstein: Right, right.
Andres: "No, I want to go on a boat."
This boat--I came to America, and I travel around the world-- was a tall ship, the "Juan Sebastian de Elcano," the training ship for the midshipmen, [indistinct].
It change my life, because on that boat, 6 month on the ocean-- Rubenstein: Right.
Andres: I learn the meaning of teamwork.
I arrive to Pensacola, Florida, and then I arrive to New York.
Can you believe that 30 years ago with that ship, I dock on the West Side in Manhattan on 30th Street.
30 years later, I open my biggest restaurant, Mercado Little Spain on 30th Street, 150 meters away from the same place I arrived as a young sailor.
American dreams--the American Dream is real.
Rubenstein: So, after you finish your tour of duty in the Spanish Navy, you went back to Spain.
And when did you come to the United States as a non-Navy person?
Andres: Yeah, I arrive, like, around-- I came back, like, beginning of 1991 to New York to be a young cook in a-- in a Catalan restaurant in New York, in Manhattan, was a lot of investment that was coming from Spain into the United States.
Was the Olympic games in Barcelona '92, it was a lot of kind of cultural and business collaboration.
I was one of those guys that came to America to become almost like, you know, culinary ambassador, to--to a degree.
I came to America, I never look back.
So you set up your own restaurant eventually.
Rubenstein: And your first restaurant, was it a Spanish restaurant?
Andres: Yeah, I then-- I was in New York.
I left New York.
I travel around.
I went Puerto Rico.
I went to California.
Was in La Jolla, um...
I really got to know America, different parts of America, but then I got this call.
Two businessmen that both had two restaurants-- Roberto Alvarez and Rob Wilder.
And they say, "We are opening a Spanish restaurant in Washington and we would like for you to be our chef."
I join another great chef, who was a partner and executive chef, Ann Cashion.
I was 23.
Was January of 1993.
Washington has been my home since then.
Rubenstein: Now you have 30 restaurants, more or less, in Las Vegas and other parts of the-- Andres: Los Angeles, Miami, New York.
Rubenstein: OK, but they're not all the same.
In other words, you have restaurants that do Spanish food, different types of food.
Is that right?
In a way, what I do is, I don't open businesses.
I always say, I--I tell stories.
I'm a cook.
I express myself through my cooking, my plates, and what you see is a collection of stories.
I--I share with people the stories I learn and the stories that other people tell me one plate at a time.
Then they become restaurants.
Rubenstein: Now, the most famous restaurant you ever wanted to open was in the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, and you had worked out an arrangement, I guess, with Donald Trump before he was elected president, and then after he made his opening speech when he said he was gonna run for president, you decided to back out, he sued you.
What was that all about and how did that get resolved?
Andres: Well, this was the restaurant where it became, uh-- the building that used to be the old post--post house office, the old post office that became the Trump Hotel.
Uh...I had a dream of opening a restaurant on that building, but then when Mr. Trump began opening, uh-- he's making opinions about immigrants, I thought that the way he was doing it was not aligned with my values.
I understand everybody can have their opinion, but their opinion should be respectful.
He began showing kind of a lot of disrespect in the way he was talking about my fellow citizens, in this case, immigrants, undocumented or not, just good people.
At the end, I guess, between the lawyers, they arrived to a-- a friendly resolution, which I cannot talk much more about it, but he open his hotel and I got what I wanted-- that was not opening my restaurant on that location.
Rubenstein: OK. You have 30 restaurants, more or less-- not the one in the Trump Hotel-- you're pretty successful.
You're well-known, you're also teaching at Harvard in food and other things, pretty nice life.
You're gonna build an even bigger business empire, and then all of a sudden, there's an earthquake in Haiti.
So, why did you decide to kind of walk a little bit away from your restaurant business to go feed the people in Haiti?
You're not Haitian.
Nobody asked you to do this.
What propelled you to all of a sudden say, "I'm gonna feed the people in Haiti that don't have any food"?
Andres: I--I almost have to go back 28 years ago when I arrive D.C. first.
I was able to go to an organization called D.C. Central Kitchen, the best fighting hunger organization I know.
We don't only take care of people out of the streets and ex-convicts, put them in a place of--of a possible success.
We train them to be cooks in the process.
We get food that is about to be thrown away.
We put everything together, we give opportunity to people.
We feed people at the same time.
I saw the power of food to change the lives of people, the life of a community.
After that learning, many years, obviously, I became the chairman.
I'm still very involved with D.C. Central Kitchen.
That power of food to change the lives of people really was within me, and I saw many times before that food was a big issue.
We saw it on Katrina, when on the Superdome, we were not able to respond in a timely manner to the thousands of men and women that were there just looking for a place to--to be rescue and feel safe... Rubenstein: Right.
I saw many times that food was an afterthought.
When Haiti happen, I was very close to Haiti.
I was in the Cayman Islands, and it's almost like a connection.
I'm enjoying a good time with my family on a beautiful island on a vacation, and all of a sudden, I'm like, "Man, take a look at that disaster."
Andres: I didn't go immediately but very--very much, few weeks later, I landed in Dominican Republic.
I drove to Haiti with one simple intention, first to learn, because to help you must learn how help must be provided, but for me, was the beginning of the creation of World Central Kitchen, that was very simple: to bring together the power of the food people of the world-- restaurants, chefs, food people, farmers-- to make sure that we will be able to answer to emergencies quick and fast.
Rubenstein: Unlike sometimes when other relief organizations go in to help people who are in distress, you don't just say, "Here's some food, go cook it."
You actually provide meals themselves.
You cook the meals.
Is that right?
Andres: At the very beginning, when there is destruction, you still think like you can give people food is very naive.
When it's destruction means that the homes are destroyed, there is no clean water, there is probably no gas.
People are probably in distress, looking for loved ones.
When chaos and--happens, just, you cannot give people just dry beans and expect that that's all you can do.
At the very beginning is very important that you move away the problem of where the food is coming from, where the water is coming from.
This is one least--less problem that they have to handle.
So that's what we do.
We arrive, we see the situation.
We start feeding people, using whatever--whatever possibilities we have in the places we go.
Every emergency is different.
We may be using food trucks.
We may be using some kitchens that they are still functioning.
We may be using a catering kitchen.
We may be using the kitchen in a stadium.
We may do a field kitchen in the middle of nowhere.
Every situation has a different response.
Rubenstein: So, since Haiti, you've done this essentially, all over the world and in the United States.
So, when Puerto Rico had its hurricane, you went down there.
And then you used, I guess, a big stadium kitchen-- Andres: Yep.
Rubenstein: which you used that technique now in other places, where you go to stadiums where they have big kitchens, and you used that like in Washington D.C. Is that right?
In Puerto Rico, we use a place call El Coliseo.
The--the Puerto Rican people love-- lovingly, they call it Choli, and is one moment that we began cooking in one of the restaurants of a friend of mine.
We went from 1,000 meals the first day to more than 25,000 meals, 5 days later, and the need was endless.
As people knew we were feeding people, the calls for food kept growing and growing.
I had to responds to all those calls.
I never said no to anybody.
We needed a bigger operation.
The only option we had was to use the biggest kitchen in San Juan that was at the coliseum, out at the stadium.
We didn't only open that one.
From that kitchen, we were doing 75,000 meals a day.
In total, at one moment, we were doing between 120,000 and 150,000 meals a day between 26 kitchens that we open all across the island.
Rubenstein: So, you've now been doing this in the United States and in Asia and everywhere there's a crisis, but where do you get the money for this?
Andres: Uh, people.
Um, we get a lot of $1.00, $2.00, $5.00 donations, and then we have other individuals that give us more, but at the end is the people.
We are organization that really people see in real time what we do, and people support us in real time.
Rubenstein: Let's talk about Covid.
When Covid came, people stopped going out to restaurants.
You had 30 restaurants.
I assume you had to close virtually all of them.
Is that right?
For a while?
Andres: We--we had to close all of them.
Rubenstein: But you still paid your employees for a while because you were nice about it, but wasn't that kind of expensive, the paying people who weren't working?
Andres: I mean, this is a decision I probably will make again.
My partners support through it, and then we were very lucky that then something called PPP came.
But when we made the decision, we kept everybody in payroll for 4, 5, 6 weeks.
And when you're talking about 1,200, 1,400 employees, that's a lot of money, but we had to do it because, remember, they were very chaotic days.
Nobody knew what was happening.
"We had to close because it's a virus?"
"When we will be reopening?"
Everything was kind of very complex.
And we thought that being there next with the people at the beginning was the right thing.
I will do it 10 times over.
Rubenstein: So, in this period of Covid, you have been feeding people in the United States who have lost their jobs, who don't have food.
Did you ever think in the United States you'd be in a situation where people are standing in food lines in quite the level that we've seen?
Um...kind of, we saw a glimpse when the federal government shutdown.
We don't realize that we had many Americans, hundreds of thousands of Americans, millions without a paycheck for 6 weeks.
And some people could handle it, but was many, especially mothers, single mothers with few children, no paycheck from the federal government, many of them suffer.
So, we already began kind of a system where we were feeding over 36 states and we were doing thousands and thousands of meals.
These somehow was the training for what happened.
I never imagined that we will have something like this, but we knew that America, as great of a country we have, is a lot of people that they are living under the poverty line.
And when something like this happening, when people losing their jobs, as an emergency situation, like the one we were facing, that hunger was going to be open for everybody to see.
Well, despite your efforts, which have been heroic, many Americans are going to sleep at night hungry.
And I think there are large numbers of tens and tens of millions of Americans.
So, is that because the government isn't getting food to people, in addition to what you're doing, or people just don't have the money?
Or what is the basic problem?
Andres: Well, World Central Kitchen, we are just the tip of the iceberg.
Is many great organizations doing good work.
But what happens is, we don't have anybody that really is trying to coordinate everything.
We saw in this pandemic hospitals without food because everything was shut down.
People were not going to work.
Cooks were not going to the kitchens.
All of a sudden, you had hospitals that nobody was feeding.
Organizations like World Central Kitchen, we had to activate that emergency, but then we saw millions of Americans losing their jobs.
Many of them are undocumented.
We--I'm not gonna get political if we should be taking care of the undocumented or not, but this is the reality-- that we had millions of Americans, undocumented, work in the fields so you and I, we could have vegetables in the supermarket; working on delivery, so you and I, we could be getting food delivered home.
We had them documented that they been moving America through this pandemic.
So, is very clear to me that we must be taking care of everybody.
The federal government has possibilities to have a better way to keep everybody fed.
The last big meaningful conversation about how to feed America happen in 1969 under the Nixon Administration, which was the White House Summit of '69.
50 years ago!
Over 50 years ago.
Is way overdue that we have another food summit at the White House, where we bring the ideas that have work in the past, new ideas that they need to be coming forward, and improving others that need some tweaking.
We have the power to do it.
I hope that in this new administration and Republicans and Democrats together will come to allow those new ideas to come and flourish.
Rubenstein: Now, you've argued, I think, that there should be a food czar and that the Department of Agriculture should be maybe renamed the Department of Food and Agriculture.
Right now who's in charge of food in the United States?
Uh, quite frankly, technically nobody.
And I know some people would say, "Jose, come on, I'm here.
Jose, I'm here."
We need the person next to the president that has the big political support.
Uh, and the office, we need-- after September 11, the--the National Director of Intelligence Office was created to make sure that all the agencies and all the intelligence people will come together so we can be good defending America from a possible terrorist attack.
I do believe it's time that we will create also the Office of the National Director of Food and Nutrition at the White House, almost with a seat on the National Security Council next to the President and making sure that we bring the resources of every single department.
Food is more than the USDA, even is the obvious one, but food is also the Department of Housing.
We can end food desert in every housing project that the U.S. Housing Department have.
Is transportation because food also needs to have good mechanisms to bring food to the poor rural areas all across America.
Food is also homeland security.
It's--food is immigration reform.
Food--it's so many things at once that that's why we need to take food, once and for all, seriously.
Rubenstein: So, you campaign for Joe Biden, President Biden.
Um, would you be interested in this job, or you still got your restaurants and World Central Kitchen so, you're not gonna do something like that in the White House yourself?
If was there nobody else, maybe I could be a good, a good leader on that front only because I'm a hard worker.
I'm creative enough, and I know how to bring people together, but me, quite frankly, I'm a guy that likes to be with boots on the ground.
I like to see what's happening.
So if it is me one day, who knows?
I'm 51 now.
What I want now is to make sure that, number one, we recognize that we need that person, that we recognize we need that position and that-- actually, I'm very happy with Secretary Vilsack because we need somebody with expertise, obviously having a governor of a rural, uh, state, having somebody that has done 8 years as Secretary of Agriculture is gonna help enormously to put the USDA forward.
And I know he's coming to the position with bold ideas, but I keep saying, "We need the white--White House Food Summit, "and we need this new director, National Director of Food and Nutrition."
This is imperative.
If we don't do this, we are gonna miss a lot of opportunities to maximize the potential of the many agencies coming, working together.
Andres: I cook because I love to feed my family and I love to change recipes.
I don't like to repeat recipes.
I barely cook the same recipe twice ever.
'Cause life is too short.
I only have few thousand meals in my life left.
I want to make sure that every meal counts.
I want to make sure that every meal is like, "Wow!"
So, when you're a chef, you're cooking elaborate meals for people.
They then consume it in 5 or 10 minutes.
Uh, do you get pleasure out of making people happy, or do you say, "I worked so hard on this and now it's gone in 5 or 10 minutes"?
Andres: Well, sometimes I create dishes that they are usually experienced in one second.
Sometimes a second is all it needs.
You know, sometimes one of the most amazing things, if you get fresh snow, and you go out with a spoon and you grab the top of the snow fresh, and you get a little bit of honey or maple syrup, and you put a touch on top, a little bit of salt, and you bring that snow that just came down, and you put it in your mouth, your life is gonna change forever because that's gonna be the best sorbet, the best that you've ever eaten.
So, it's very important to understand those moments.
Um, so, those moments are important for me.
Rubenstein: So, when you're a chef, do you experiment with recipes all the time, or do you just take the standard recipes, you change it a little bit, or how do you get your recipes or-- and your ideas for new foods?
So, in my company, we have a good-- uh, what we call the Think Food Tank, which is our research and development team, where we are always working for new recipes.
Sometimes we are only re-creating traditional dishes, if I open a Chinese restaurant or my Greek restaurant.
Other times, like Minibar, we are coming out with a new technique or a new use for an ingredient.
Uh, it's always something, like is the beginning of creation.
So, when you go home after a hard day at work or World Central Kitchen or your restaurants, do you say to your wife, "Could you cook a meal for me?"
Or do you do all the cooking at home as well?
No, she'd--my wife does a lot of cooking at home, and my daughters--obviously, she has more the traditional recipes that we always cook, like lentils or chickpeas with the spinach.
Those are dishes that are always in my home and my daughters love.
Rubenstein: But you don't say, "Honey, this isn't quite as good as I would have cooked it" or "Let me tell you how to cook this better"?
You never say that.
When my wife cooks, it's always the best meal.
So, um, if you were in a desert island and you could only have one meal, what would you want to eat?
What is your favorite food to eat?
If--if I was in an island and had one meal, this, uh...probably without doubt, without doubt, I will say, "Give me an egg."
Rubenstein: An egg?
Andres: I love eggs.
Rubenstein: OK. Andres: I--I love eggs.
A--a fry egg is the most complex thing in the history of mankind, to fry an egg properly.
Those people that will control the power to fry an egg is just people that they can retire from anything else on life, because it's the ultimate thing in life to know how to properly fry an egg.
Rubenstein: So, around the world, there is a rating system of great restaurants, a Michelin guide.
Uh, do you pay attention to that kind of thing?
Is that important to you, Michelin guide stars, or is that not that big a deal?
Andres: When I was 14, 15 years old in Barcelona, I will walk outside 1-, 2-, 3-Michelin star restaurants only so I could have the opportunity to have a glimpse inside because my family will not take them.
They were expensive restaurants.
I still remember that my heart was kind of bumping the first time I came into a Michelin star restaurant in the kitchen, no even to eat.
So, imagine myself 35+ years later.
Obviously, I have two restaurants with two-- two Michelin stars, in L.A. and--and Miami, when the L.A. one is already close.
And the biggest joy of my life was the day we got those 2-star Michelin.
Will I work hard to try to get in the future a third star?
Is what you living life for.
It's--Michelin has been here forever.
Is one of the big guides.
I don't do it so much for Michelin.
I do it for my team.
I do it for me.
I do it for the people.
I do it for the pride.
But do--I will work in the future to try to achieve 3-star Michelin?
You bet I will.
Rubenstein: Now, for your humanitarian efforts, you've been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Andres: Well, I don't know.
They said it, but I don't know.
Rubenstein: But is that something you care about, or you're more focused on other stuff?
Andres: I mean, quite frankly, all those things are good for the "Forrest Gump" movies of my life, but at the end, what I care, uh, uh-- I have a hard time now knowing when there is an emergency and I'm not there.
Right now, next to being with my family, my heart really is at its best, and I feel good with myself when I'm in an emergency knowing that we are bringing relief to others.
Andres: This is gonna be so good, I'm gonna charge you.
Rubenstein: OK. OK, well, I'd say I've eaten fried rice all over the world for many years.
This is the best I've ever had.
They're very good.
Rubenstein: It's really good.
Andres: Hey, you want to invest in a restaurant?
Rubenstein: Um...OK. Andres: Ha ha!
Rubenstein: If you're the chef.
Andres: Hey, he said OK. Boom.