SXSW: José Andrés Speaks on Puerto Rico and the Importance of Activism

By Alex Firer
"We dream one plate at a time.”
  • José Andrés made a splash during the Oscars when — during Andra Day and Common’s performance of “Stand Up For Something” — the activist chef unfurled a Puerto Rican flag he was carrying in order to continue awareness of the ongoing crisis following Hurricane Maria’s striking Puerto Rico, and incredibly little official aid heading to that part of the world. As a result, José Andrés, the Spanish born chef — teamed up with the World Central Kitchen in order to make sure that Puerto Rico stays fed. Discussing his incredible history of activism — Shira interviewed José Andrés during SXSW.

    José Andrés discussed the now famous Oscar moment of his unfurling the Puerto Rican flag — how he at first thought Common calling him on stage was a prank, but no! Common called him and told him to do whatever he wanted. José Andrés also covered the incredible work he’s done in Puerto Rico and Haiti — feeding both countries after hurricanes and Earthquakes destroyed the land and taking Puerto Rico from a thousand meals a day to 3.4 million meals a day — taking Puerto Rico from one kitchen to twenty-three kitchens. How did he achieve this kind of output? José says the secret was starting small and seeing if the kitchen could double the output of meals every day. A good strategy with inspiring results.

    Lastly, José goes into what makes an activist — and according to him, we can all be activists. We just have to want to change the life of at least one person. If we’re helping someone put away shopping bags, says José, we are activists as well. It’s a beautiful idea. Small actions with incredibly kind results, and as José put it, ‘We dream one plate at a time.”

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