Boy wonder cooks up a televised taste of Spain in America

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New cooking programme introduces the US to Spanish cuisine.

28 February 2008

WASHINGTON - "This is a pepper from Padrón. And today, as a matter of fact, we are going to visit the Galician town of Padrón to learn more about it," the chef José Andrés tells the camera.

His new cooking programme, Made in Spain, is available in 70 percent of US homes through the public station PBS, and it is more than a mere overview of Spanish recipes. In 26 episodes lasting 30 minutes each, the popular chef who now lives in Washington DC travels across Spain to show viewers where each ingredient comes from, its history, and how it gets onto the consumer's table. In the programme, he does everything from cooking dishes to collecting peppers, chatting with fishermen and farmers, and interviewing other kitchen celebrities such as Ferran Adriá, in an attempt to bring a human touch to each dish.

For instance, Made in Spain explores the cheeses and monkfish of Asturias, the thick hot chocolate and thousands of tapas from Madrid, and the saffron of Castilla La Mancha.

"Chef of the year"
Andrés is famous in the United States for being the executive chef of Jaleo, the most famous chain of tapas restaurants in the country.

In 2006, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington named him Chef of the Year, and a year before that the magazine Food Arts wrote that he is the best thing that has happened to Spain in North America since 1492. Even The New York Times once described him as "the boy wonder of culinary Washington."

"Spain is my country and no one is more proud of it than I am," says Andrés, who became popular in Spain before moving to the United States thanks to a cooking programme on TVE called Vamos a cocinar (Let's cook). He has also written Los fogones de José Andrés (José Andrés' stove) and Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / DAVID ALANDETE 2008]

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