Chef José Andrés new dining experiment, America Eats, has been booked solid for dinner since it opened and also generally sees a significant rush during lunch hours.
The idea of a restaurant-as-exhibit is also something Andrés hopes to expand on in the future. He said his next idea might be a restaurant that pairs with the State Department to show what carbon-neutral, no-emissions cooking looks like.
Along with America Eats, Andrés is supporting the National Archives exhibit by hosting roundtable discussions that bring culinary experts together to discuss solutions to the world’s food problems. Andrés believes, in the same way it’s important for architects to plan the cities of the future and doctors to have a say in the evolution of the health care system, chefs should take part in planning future food policy.
“If you don’t speak up and you don’t nag anyone or you don’t push, someone else will. And, quite frankly, I prefer that the chefs of the world have something to say about how we feed America and the world than a politician from the middle of nowhere that has no interest in cooking or even loves food,” he said.
Andrés is particularly concerned with the 2012 reauthorization of the farm bill. He said it could be the most important farm bill negotiated in the history of the world because of the effects it could have on obesity in the U.S. and on hunger-related issues in other countries.
In a field focused so wholly on singular dining experiences, it’s unique to find a chef who considers the long-range effects of the food he serves to his patrons. But for Andrés, his study of food history and policy makes perfect sense.
“I am interested in all things food, and all things food means more than going to the market and shopping. All things food means history and politics and social and commerce,” he said.
For Andrés, each dish is more than just a moment’s meal.
“I think you can explain the history of the world through cooking, through food,” he said.