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First it was Esquire, which recently stirred the pot by selecting Blue Ridge‘s Barton Seaver as chef of the year. Now comes GQ, which just named José Andrés as its chef of the year.
GQ’s Alan Richman virtually gushes over Andrés and his approach to tapas:
America in recent years has became obsessed with undersized portions—the inexpensiveness, the informality, the joy of knowing that if the food turns out to be not quite what you had in mind, you aren’t stuck with a lot of it. There’s even intimacy in small plates, the sharing of a couple of bites. Nobody does this better or more expansively than Andrés, and it’s no coincidence that the five dishes I liked best at his restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles are all miniaturized. I could eat all five at one sitting, and I would do so if traveling didn’t make it impractical.
That’s all nice. But here’s the part of Richman’s essay that I found most interesting: how, 16 years ago, Andrés refined his tortilla de patatas at the behest of the legendary Jean-Louis Palladin. Writes Richman:
Andrés told me the story behind the dish: On a Sunday in 1993, the legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin, who had a restaurant in D.C., walked into Jaleo. He ordered tortilla de patatas, sent it back, and told Andrés to do it the right way. “At first I had no idea who he was,” Andrés says. Palladin dragged Andrés back into the Jaleo kitchen, and taught him how to make an omelet the French way. Now, sixteen years later, it’s still made according to Palladin’s specifications. A wonderful story. A lovely omelet.
A good story and a good get by Richman. Y&H congratulates Andrés on the recognition. It’s an honor well-deserved.