Innovative Spanish chef wins top U.S. cooking award

Mon May 9, 2011 10:56pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Spanish chef Jose Andres, known for his innovative cooking and credited in popularizing tapas in America, won the award for outstanding U.S. chef on Monday.

The 41-year-old beat out veterans Gary Danko, Suzanne Goin, Paul Kahan and Charles Phan for the top honor handed out by the James Beard Foundation.

Andres, who grew up in the Asturias area in northern Spain, started as a young cook in el Bulli under the tutelage of Ferran Adria, who pioneered molecular gastronomy.

Andres moved to the United States in 1990 and has opened a string of acclaimed restaurants in Washington, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

"Here's an immigrant celebrating the melting pot," he said.

"I feel like I'm an ambassador bringing Spain to America and also to the world."

His minibar in Washington serves 30 to 35 small courses to six diners per seating, featuring avant-garde twists on guacamole, tzatziki and other global dishes.

In other major award categories, the James Beard Foundation named Michelin-star Eleven Madison Park in New York as the top restaurant of the year and its pastry chef Angela Pinkerton outstanding U.S. pastry chef.   Continued...