Chef José Andrés and his ‘clay pot’ become a museum exhibit in Washington DC

The Spanish-born restaurateur has been selected for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s 2022 ‘Portrait of a Nation’ series, which recognizes some of the most outstanding living personalities in the US

José Andrés, photographed earlier this year in Madrid.
José Andrés, photographed earlier this year in Madrid.Bernardo Pérez Tovar

A portrait of José Andrés, the Spanish-born chef who has made a career as a sucessful restaurateur in the United States, will hang inside the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. The 53-year-old, who is also known for his activism and humanitarian work at the helm of his World Central Kitchen, has been selected as one of this year’s honorees for the Smithsonian’s Portrait of a Nation, the series with which the museum recognizes the most outstanding personalities in US politics, culture, society and sports. Other inductees who will be recognized at a gala event on November 12 include the tennis players Serena and Venus Williams and presidential medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading figure in the fight against the Covid pandemic in the US.

The painting depicting José Andrés is titled José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World. The olla de barro (clay pot) is a symbol of his charity World Central Kitchen, which helps people in need during emergencies anywhere in the world, including in war-torn Ukraine and in Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Ian.

"José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World" was painted by Kadir Nelson for the Smithsonian's Portrait of a Nation series.
"José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World" was painted by Kadir Nelson for the Smithsonian's Portrait of a Nation series. Kadir Nelson / Smithsonian Institution

The portrait, an oil on canvas, was done by Kadir Nelson, a painter and illustrator well known for his covers of The New Yorker magazine and for his work on Michael Jackson’s and rapper Drake’s albums. José Andrés has asked to be introduced at the upcoming gala by Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Steve Jobs and president of the Emerson Collective, focused on education, immigration reform, the environment, the media and health. Kadir Nelson said that Andrés “is an inspiration to the world and embodies the spirit of the awards.”

“I am so humbled that it will hang in this prestigious institution that has been a source of inspiration for me in Washington DC for so many years,” wrote Andrés in his Instagram account. “This portrait is not ‘I the person’ but it is of We the People, the people feeding the world.”

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