food & drink

Holy chefs

Medals are awarded in wartime to the brave and diligent, and when this war is finally over the economic hangover will also need to be mitigated by a lengthy honours list.

Ask any American who most deserves a medal for undertaking selfless charity work during this and previous crises, and the name on many people's lips will be chef José Andrés.

Fresh from appearing on the cover of Time, José Ramón Andrés Puerta is currently America's best-known Spanish import. Born in Asturias, he has been working in the US since 1998, when he arrived at age 21 after being fired from the legendary El Bulli.

He started modestly with tapa bars, but in 2006 his career blossomed, opening restaurants in Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Chefs are not renowned for their intellects, but José Andrés left the kitchen for a time to work as Dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Centre.

Later he would achieve notoriety by breaking his contract to open a restaurant at one of Trump's hotels after the president had criticised Mexican immigrants.

In 2010 he became world famous for his World Central Kitchen, set up to feed victims of the Haiti earthquake, later doing the same in other disaster zones worldwide. Although responsible for his own chain of stateside restaurants, he always finds time for charity work, and in the current crisis he has organised field kitchens to feed passengers on quarantined cruise liners in US ports. And, as I write these words, news comes that a prayer candle has been launched in the States with José Andrés's visage on it. The 'José Andrés Saint Candle' sold out in five hours, and the $20 each candle fetched will be donated the chef's World Central Kitchen.