and ;inkFoodGroup founded World
Central Kitchen, a D.C.-based nonprofit
that helps feed vulnerable populations
and empowers communities through
social enterprise, jobs, education, and
training in cleaner, safer ways to cook.
;e organization has provided meals for
victims and rescue workers after volcanic
eruptions in Guatemala and Hawaii, an
earthquake in Indonesia and wildfires in
California, as well as for furloughed federal workers, hungry Venezuelans, and
migrants in the Mexican city of Tijuana
hoping to enter the United States.
In March, Andrés opened Mercado
Little Spain, a 35,000-square-foot food
hall in New York City, and his fifth Jaleo
restaurant, this one at the Disney Springs
entertainment complex in Florida. ;is
fall, he’ll find out if he’s won the 2019
Nobel Peace Prize. He was nominated
last fall by then-U.S. Rep. John Delaney
of Maryland. “We don’t talk much about
it,” his wife says. “It’s so big that we don’t
think it is real.”
Earlier this year, Andrés appeared with
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda
on ;e Tonight Show Starring Jimmy
Fallon, attended the State of the Union
address as a guest of Democratic Speaker
of the House Nancy Pelosi, toured a farm
in Puerto Rico with Bill and Hillary
Clinton, and introduced a best picture
nominee at the Academy Awards.
Nonetheless, he remains humble,
noting that he’s been inspired in part by
his father, who died last November. “My
father was always feeding everybody in
his old days. He would never see much
of a reason not to be doing a big pot of
paella,” Andrés says. “Whether we were
20 or 100, he saw the meaning of bring-
ing people together over a plate of food.
Family, or people you don’t know. It’s
kind of the same thing.”
And then there’s Patricia. A gift given
to her by artist, author, internationally
known chef and family friend Jacques
Pepin says it all. On the bottom of Pepin’s
framed drawing of pears is a note that
reads, “Dear Patricia: Congratulations
on raising such a great husband.”
During a joint interview at the couple’s
home, and in a subsequent conversation
with Patricia, they talked about every-
thing from raising children in Bethesda to
how José’s work has a;ected their family.
Where did you first meet?
José: Do you remember?
Patricia: I do remember.
José: What do you remember?
Patricia: We met at Café Atlantico, the
restaurant, when it used to be in Adams
How did that happen? Were you
Patricia: No, it was just a fun place where
all my friends would go. And José’s partner [at Jaleo], Roberto Alvarez, was one
of the owners. José would also go there
after work. Actually, I was waiting in the
line with a friend because there were
always long lines to get into Café Atlantico. And José came with a friend and
he was like, ‘Do you want to come in?’
We said, ‘Sure.’ So we go in, and then we
say, ‘;ank you!’ And we went to look
for our friends.
José: She left me alone. She used me.
Patricia: ;en we ended up all meeting
José: I saw her dancing many times
before. She was always running with
these other boys…and so, when I saw an
opportunity to make my move, I did.
Patricia: José was really fun since the
José: And you see, she talks in the past
because it’s not the case anymore.
Patricia: When he gets grumpy, I remind
him how fun he used to be.
José: Well, somebody has to play the
dwarfs; they are all equally important.
How long did you date?
José: We are still dating.
Patricia: A year and a half. My dad had
passed away in September 1994, and
then we got married in September 1995.
Actually, we married here, a civil mar-
riage first, then we went to Spain to do a
religious wedding, the real wedding with
friends. But because of my dad’s passing,
we did a small wedding, which was nice.
What were you doing here in
Patricia: I came because my uncle used
to work for the Spanish Embassy. ;e
plan was to be here for six months, study
some English, then get back. But I ended
up staying here. I took some classes, went
to Montgomery College. ;en I finished
at University of Maryland University College. Meanwhile, I was working for my
embassy, the commercial o;ce. In the
process, I met José.
Why did you move to Bethesda?
Patricia: My kids used to go to ;e
José: My wife told me, ‘;at’s the school
we want.’ It has the values we like, the
size we like. She liked that school a lot.
Patricia: Our kids were already going
to that school [before they moved to
Bethesda 12 years ago].
José: ;ey were going there before we
José: Right, because I used to take them
to school every morning. [Laughter.]
Anyway, she wanted to make sure we
were close to the school. I grew up in a
place where I would walk to school every
day. And for me, that was very important.
I have a feeling that every single child
should grow up in a small community.
It’s so funny. You would think that in big
communities, you are more protected.
But in small communities, you feel more
in sync with the community. ;e first
time in my life I felt really alone was in
the heart of Manhattan when I was 21.
So did they walk to school?
José: Oh yeah, every day.
And did they feel part of that small
Patricia: Yes, just the fact that they could
walk to school helped them with independence, helped them with…
José: Finding mushrooms…
Patricia: Finding mushrooms on the way.