If you’re even remotely into watching people cook on TV, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen Spanish chef José Andrés do his thing. The cheerful nature and oversized personality of the celebrated restaurateur make it makes him incredibly watchable, a fact made clear in the United States during his years as a PBS host. Made in Spain.
More recently, however, a subset of viewers got to know the James Beard Award winner and the driving force behind Spanish cuisine in America as this goofy dude on TikTok, who was seen dancing with his young adult daughters in the kitchen in the early months of the pandemic.
“We cooked together and I posted the videos,” Andrés tells TVLine. The segments were funny, wine-influenced, and often ended with his hilarity erupting in song and dance. “It got so popular online that I said to my daughters, ‘You want a show?’ And they said, ‘Okay, maybe, yeah.’
The result – José Andrés and family in Spain – starts streaming on Discovery+ today. The six-episode docuseries follows the chef and his children, Carlota, Inés and Lucia, as they journey through their home country, sampling local cuisine and engaging with inherently Spanish traditions. (The Andrés sisters were born in America; José Andrés and his wife Patricia are both Spanish and became American citizens in 2013.)
The superbly shot show follows members of the Andres family as they shine a spotlight on Spain’s legendary gastronomy: milking goats for cheese in Asturias, stirring up large pans of paella in Valencia and dipping churros in thick chocolate in central Madrid.
In mid-December, we chatted with the chef — who is also the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides hot meals in areas of major unrest like Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria or Ukraine — as he sat in Spanish at the diner, Part of his Mercado Little Spain in New York. Read on for his thoughts, including those on the seriousness of drinking champagne at breakfast.
TVLINE | What misconceptions do you think Americans have about Spanish food in general?
Listen, it’s not a misunderstanding… What you realize is that the world is such a big place that we don’t spend enough time exploring what you don’t see. [For example,] Papayas, the most American food America doesn’t know exists. My daughters were the ones who taught me about paw paws on the Billy Goat Trail in the Potomac River. My daughters taught me papaya, a fruit you didn’t even know it existed.
Now let’s go to Spain. If America doesn’t know about its own traditions, do you think every Spaniard knows about every tradition in Spain? This also does not happen. The message is that we all need to be open. We all need to be discovered. We must all be explorers…
We’re doing this show because we all need to do more shows, not just for Spain, but for every part of the world, to bring the world closer together. There are the longer tables, not the taller walls – and in the end those misunderstandings just go away. Why? Because knowledge is power and showing the ideas in a fun way is educational, but you don’t think anyone is teaching you because you learn as you walk, as you drive, as you open the door of every restaurant or every cheese market . That’s what life should always be about.
TVLINE | I’ll tell you what I learned from your show when you’re at the Mercado de la Boqueria in Barcelona: I learned that cava – Spanish sparkling wine – is acceptable for breakfast.
[Laughs] Cava for breakfast is acceptable… But for me, since I was at this market, I went to the market with my father when I was very young and this was a expensive Market. I remember my father going to this market, La Boqueria, and buying kiwis. I remember the moment my dad spent money to buy two kiwis! Two kiwis because it was too expensive to buy more! And that moment when I ate the kiwi with my dad is still something I remember.
TVLINE | I love that.
So, you know, so I can be in this market and take my daughters to dinner, a breakfast place I couldn’t afford when I was young? This man [Juanito Bayen, owner of Pinotxo Bar in La Boqueria, whom we meet in Episode 1], if I had to, this legend would buy my breakfast because he knows that sometimes I didn’t have enough money. But he wouldn’t [just] buy my breakfast I ordered a coffee and that was it and a small piece of tomato bread and he brought me an extra small tapita or two because he knew he knew how much I enjoyed eating.
For me, 20, 30, 40 years later, taking my daughters to the same market my father took me to is something special. It’s unique. [Laughs] And yes, in these places you learn that you can drink a sparkling cava, Catalan cava, at 7, 8 in the morning.
TVLINE | What do you think is the least appreciated tapa and what is the most overrated tapa?
Well, let me put it this way: there is no such thing as an overrated tapa because all tapas are amazing. The one you don’t know is underestimated. There are so many tapas. Obviously there is more to Spain than just tapas, but tapas has become an amazing way to export the culture of Spanish cuisine. One could argue that Lebanon or Greece or Turkey are more than mezze. But this is a great way to celebrate. Tapas, what it is in the end is: Why eat one dish when you can eat 20? Why eat in one place when you can go to 10? In this moment, more is more, through tiny portions.
So what I can tell you is this my The most amazing tapas are croquetas. My mom made these for me and my brothers when we were little. Croquetas came in handy at the end of the month when you were out of money, and any leftover is poured into the béchamel that will be in the croquetas, which will be rolled in the breadcrumbs of stale bread that my mother will grind in the coffee grinder. That’s why my coffee at my house was always a bit thick because they never removed the breadcrumbs from it and the coffee would thicken on its own. Magic! [Laughs]
Those croquettes, I still remember my brothers and I eating them out of the tray at night, making noises and opening the fridge. [Mimes eating them] and the béchamel In front My mom rolled them the day after, that’s one of the biggest things. In fact, new visions come to me as I speak to you. I will serve the croquetas before rolling them and you can eat them with a spoon. Shit, this is going to be great!
TVLINE | That is fine.
But that’s a good question! I gave you these very long answers because I didn’t have the smarter answer.
But any tapa – I mean there are so many dishes in Spain. The more I know about Spain, the more I know that I know nothing. All [thinks I’m] an expert and I look at myself in the mirror and I think me, an expert?! Every time I go somewhere, it’s like I learn 10 new things there. Knowledge makes you aware of things you don’t know.
https://tvline.com/2022/12/27/jose-andres-in-spain-interview-discovery-plus/ ‘José Andrés and his family in Spain’: Interview with a Spanish chef