Transcript: Creativity in Cooking Can Solve Our Biggest Challenges by Jose Andres

Take a look at this. This is Haiti. Do you see the garbage? Where do you think this garbage came from, people? Where? It came from overseas. Yes, we have goodwill; we went there to help. But look at all the trash we bring with ourselves in the process of helping. No one is really even thinking about it, how to take care of the garbage.

Creativity, and cooking and thinking about food, can help us to move this forward. I had a friend who had this simple, humble idea of getting a newspaper – if you’re Republican you know which one to use — If you’re a Democrat, too. And he had a party but he didn’t have a lot of money, and he needed a creative way to be saving money. And it was at this time, that such a simple thing as grabbing a piece of paper — a simple piece of paper — and transforming the beautiful paper into something so simple as a place to put peanuts, you will have a plate to support the peanuts that will allow you to eat them, you will have a place to put the garbage next. Simple ideas, people, can be helping to feed the world, and we need to keep thinking, and thinking hard. A newspaper can only be the beginning.

But take a look at this, what do we have here? Here we have clean cookstoves. A woman cooking with wood and charcoal, but those cookstoves are cleaner now. Cleaner means that, even if she’s using wood and charcoal, she’s using, probably, 60% to 70% less. So, by using less we cut less trees, by leaving trees in the forest, the rain, that we’re supposed to be celebrating because rain means water, and water means life. That rain doesn’t create life. That rain creates death because we cut the trees, and nothing, no roots to give life to that soil, and when the water comes down from the mountains, it takes away lives, homes, and the only fertile soil that we have left… Wow! And we could be using this to make briquettes. With paper and organic matter that can help us to have clean cookstoves that are part of the solution — feeding people, giving them opportunities, taking care of the environment, all with a simple idea.

I use many clean cookstoves, some use briquettes, other ones use pellets, other ones use charcoal, but other ones will use alcohol. There’s hope, we know how to do it, we know how to feed people, but we need to be really investing in true research and development, because research and development cannot be only part of the big corporations of the world. If we don’t start applying creativity, research and development into the third world, we will never have hope for those people that need it the most. And this was my simple contribution.


Why we don’t cook with CO2 zero emissions? Solar kitchens, it’s not the only way. I believe in many ways, but this is almost the dream way. I went there, many times, not trying to impose the white man philosophy, but trying to listen. Because these people in the third world, they only want from us, not our pity, but our respect, and they want us to listen to them, so we can really help them, and not imposing solutions that no one believes in.

And I did a simple thing – Creativity. The same creativity that uses the sun. A creativity that I used to feed six people. I painted this in black, with black we attract the sun, with the sun we’re able to steam water very, very quick — as quick as that — And forgive me for the video, it was with my phone.


[Video Clip: “I’m cooking lentils and I’m only using the sun, Wow! Clean cookstoves are a great way to cook.”]


Creativity in cooking can help solve, can really help solve the biggest challenges in our world. Creativity can be the way to teach people again how to feed themselves, by giving them the power of knowing how to cook. Through education we can achieve that.

Education and creativity will be key. If we really give people, like in Haiti, the tools through creativity to feed themselves, the world has hope.


Cooking is what makes us uniquely human, it’s what differentiate us from everyone else on this Earth. Creativity and cooking, guys, can give us hope that we may have a better world tomorrow.


I would like to use another phrase of Brillat-Savarin, “Show me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”

An important phrase, but I will ask Mr. Brillat-Savarin to allow me, in a humble way, to help me update this powerful phrase. I think from now on, it should be, “Show me how you cook, and I will tell you who you really are.”


My name is José Andrés. I know I feed the few but I really want to be part of the solution of feeding the world.


Thank you very much.

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By Pangambam S

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