Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chef José Andrés Honored with the Vilcek Foundation Award

Tuesday night I had the opportunity to join Ambassador Jorge Dezcallar of Spain at his residence and Dr. Jan T. Vilcek, President of the Vilcek Foundation, as they announced the fifth annual Vilcek Prize for the Arts, this year bestowed in the field of culinary arts.

Celebrated Spanish-born culinary pioneer José Andrés, credited with bringing Spanish culture to the forefront of American cuisine, is the the recipient of this years award and will be presented with a $50,000 prize and a sculpture by Stefan Sagmeister this April.

The Vilcek Prizes epitomize the mission of the Vilcek Foundation, which raises awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States.

Chef Andrés’s groundbreaking restaurants include Jaleo and minibar by josé andrés in Washington D.C., and The Bazaar in Los Angeles, while his PBS food-and-travel series Made in Spain brought the various regions of his beloved homeland to American culture.

I spoke with José about his plans for a new foundation and how he will use the award from the Vilcek Foundation to address issues of hunger and nutrition within immigrant cultures. His emphasis on the link between culture and cuisine reflects the Vilcek Foundation’s values of enriching American society through the infusion of immigrant culture and talent and should be commended.

Ambassador Dezcallar and Dr. Vilcek also recognized Laos-born pastry-chef Varin Keokitvon; a Chef Instructor for the Seattle-based FareStart. Chef Keokitvon trains homeless and struggling individuals for careers in the culinary arts. Mr. Keokitvon will receive a $25,000 cash award.

Over the past 17 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for over 3,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 3.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children. Learn more about them and how you can help HERE.

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