Update, April 17, 2009:
I seem to be on a little bit of a Spanish kick with my posts here recently, so let’s go for trillizos.
If you like chefs with wacky accents and cooking shows that amuse you while you’re learning things, then set your TV-watching machine right now to catch the next installment of Made in Spain on your local PBS channel.
I first became aware of Chef José Andrés last July when he was interviewed by Dorothy Hamilton on her Chef’s Story program. The fact that he had apprenticed under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, reputed to be the best restaurant in the world, caught my attention. What really impressed me, however, was the guy’s heart and imagination as he asked people to consider how fascinating even a tomato seed or a glass of water can be when approached creatively. For someone who was trained at the Los Alamos of molecular gastronomy, he was incredibly passionate about the miracle of cotton candy.
While traveling the world as a sailor in the Spanish navy after his apprenticeship, Andrés first set eyes on the USA in Pensacola, Florida. He returned and spent some time in Norfolk and New York City before being offered the opportunity to help introduce tapas to America at Jaleo in Washington, D.C.
The new TV series debuted in February. Each episode combines cooking segments, shot in Andrés’ home kitchen in Washington, with visits to Spain where, for example, he follows the process of cheesemaking in Asturias from the pastures to the local market, or samples the various sherries of Andalucia.
José Andrés is a very entertaining character. Whipping up his mayonnaise recipe (as seen in the clip above), he explains the principle of emulsion as a diplomatic mission executed by the egg yolk which gets the aristocratic oil to coexist with the lowly water in the whites. He’s got a strong Spanish accent, a robust sense of humor, and his face and gestures are so expressive that you can’t help but laugh. For extra fun, take a drink each time he says something is “very unique” (as long as you’re not going to be driving anywhere) — speaking of which, here’s José Andrés in one of his TV appearances with Conan O’Brien:
A companion book to the series, Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen, can be ordered from Amazon. Chef Andrés is already a hit in print with his Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America.