José Andrés is one of the most fascinating and well-respected chefs in America. With the establishment of his first restaurant, Jaleo, in Washington D.C., the Spain native brought the idea of tapas, or small plates, to the United States in 1993. Since then, Andrés has opened 20 other restaurants, ranging in concepts from high (like The Bazaar in Beverly Hills that offers squid ink pasta and sea urchin) to low (such as Pepe, his food truck that serves baguette sandwiches). From liquid olives made using a technique learned from Ferrán Adria to old-school crab louie with classic Thousand Island dressing, he serves up every type of dish imaginable. However, Andrés isn’t your average celebrity chef, he’s a philanthropist, showman, and educator who was named Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation and one of the most influential people in the world by Time. The chef and his restaurant group, ThinkFoodGroup, show no sign of slowing down and continue to grow their empire one plate at a time.
Their most recent endeavor hopes to expand Andrés’s presence in Latin America. J by Jose Andres opened last month at the W Mexico City Hotel. To celebrate his first restaurant outside of the U.S., Andrés and his team hosted a lavish party. The eatery, which is located on the hotel’s second floor, features a menu of dishes inspired by both Mexico and Spain. Think queso fundido made with manchego cheese and sherry instead of the traditional Mexican ingredients tequila and queso fresco. “It is an honor for me to be partnering with W Mexico City to open my first restaurant outside the United States,” José Andrés told Haute Living at the Friday night affair. “The playful, dynamic spirit of the W brand is a natural fit for us and this concept, especially this property in Mexico City, one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Today I feel I belong more to this country that I love and that has given me so much. I can’t wait for the people of Mexico City to try the food of my native Spain, and taste the dishes that celebrate the astonishing cultural and historical connections between Mexico and Spain.”
Trendsetting influencers from Mexico City, an elite carefully-selected group of media from the U.S., W Mexico City insiders, and a team of stylish travelers from AeroMexico (one of the sponsor’s for the event) mingled on the restaurant’s expansive open-air patio during the cocktail portion of the party. Waiters passed glasses of citrus-infused gin and tonics and José’s margarita, a concoction that’s topped with a layer of foamy salt air instead of the typical salted rim. Spoonfuls of burst-in-your-mouth liquid olives, croquetas served hysterically from a dish shaped like a man’s shoe, and miniature crispy cones filled with avocado and topped with a fried grasshopper were the tasty appetizers that paired with the handcrafted libations. Our favorite bite was an Andrés signature: a finely-shaved Iberico ham taco with a generous dollop of caviar as the filling.
After a quick toast, the guests were invited inside to the vibrantly-decorated restaurant for an extravagant never-ending meal. Roasted red beets and segmented grapefruit were piled high atop goat cheese mousse and served with toasted pistachios and a fragrant sherry dressing. Pan de cristal, a special bread imported from Spain, was toasted and topped with fresh tomato pulp, fruity olive oil, and thick rocks of sea salt. Delicate, melt-in-your mouth crudo was served on a bed of tomato seeds with a sprinkling of briny capers. Oysters on the half shell, stuffed piquillo peppers, Spanish-style oxtail tacos, and octopus with potatoes and spicy paprika were also served at the feast. The culmination was cochinillo, suckling pig slow roasted to perfection—with a crackling skin and succulent meaty interior. It was served with the creamiest, buttery most decadent potato puree ever. After the dinner, guests lingered at their seats drinking Spanish wine and snapping photos for Instagram. The over-the-top meal and luxurious setting proved that Andrés world takeover is just beginning.