Why The Smithsonian Gave José Andrés A Huge Honor

Chef José Andrés is a well-known and revered figure for many reasons. As the head ThinkFoodGroup, he's in charge of more than different restaurants, two of which have two Michelin stars, according to the Michelin website. He is the founder of the nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen (WCK), which operated a network of volunteers across 150 cities in the U.S. as of 2020 (via InStyle). He's also a bestselling author, culinary educator, and has been part of Time Magazine's most influential people list twice. And on top of that, the chef recently started his own media company (via Food & Wine).

Well, the latest accolade Andrés can add to his seemingly endless list of accomplishments is being a Smithsonian Portrait honoree. Earlier this week, the institution announced that the Spanish-born chef would be inducted into its National Portrait Gallery alongside the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Serena and Venus Williams, and many other notable figures who have, in Smithsonian Magazine's words, "made transformative contributions to the United States and its people across numerous fields of endeavor." The exhibition featuring his portrait is scheduled to launch on November 10 at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and will be on display until October 2023.

Andrés is being recognized for his extraordinary humanitarian work

Smithsonian Magazine states, "The Portrait of a Nation Award is an expression of gratitude for the leaders in our country who have made a difference and advocate for a better future." That's an apt description for José Andrés, whose philanthropic work has impacted millions.

Since creating WCK in 2010, Andrés has led initiatives that have fed people in need all over the world. Notably, he and his team were one of the first charities to arrive in Puerto Rico in 2018 after Hurricane Maria, where they served more than 3 million meals to residents (via Eater). And when the pandemic hit in 2020 and forced many businesses to close, the humanitarian chef stepped up again by transforming some of his restaurants into to-go kitchens that also provided free meals to people who couldn't afford to pay (via Today).

Part of what sets Andrés apart is the superhero-like swiftness with which he takes action in the face of crisis. His Time Magazine cover story details how in 2020, upon hearing about a cruise ship that was not allowed to disembark due to infection reports, he flew from New Jersey to San Francisco just to help deliver meals to those on board. And in 2021, when storms hit Texas hit, he rushed to the state to aid families affected by the disaster. It's stories like these that remind us of his commitment to service and serve as a testament to why the Smithsonian honor is well-deserved.