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Spanish olives. Photo by Andre Flewellen
Spanish olives. Photo by Andre Flewellen

Chef Jose Andres

Renowned Spanish Chef visits Philadelphia to promote olives as a delicious, nutritious snack.

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If you have ever visited a restaurant in the Iberian Peninsula or taken a drive through Andalucia in Southern Spain, you will know that the country is teeming with olives. The Mediterranean staple is a major part of the local diet and consumed both on its own as a tapa, or as a garnish on dishes like paella or tortilla espanola. Spain alone produces 21 percent of the world’s olive production and 30 percent of olive exports. Here in the United States, we import over 155 million pounds of European olives a year with over 95 percent coming from Spain.

To promote this tasty Spanish snack, renowned Spanish Chef Jose Andres, one of Time magazine’s “World’s Most Influential People,” and the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2018, visited Philadelphia this May to highlight the importance of Spanish olives.

“They have always been Spanish,” said Andres. “They are an important aspect of our history. They form part of who we are and will not stop being important.”

At the “Have an Olive Day” event, located on the rooftop of the Versailles Residences in Center City, Andres and his team from Spain featured six types of olives: green olives stuffed with pimiento, black ripe olives, queen olives, green olives, sliced ripe black olives and stuffed olives. He noted the health benefits of the food as well as its versatility.

Andres has used the product throughout his long tenure as a chef in the United States. He is credited with helping to bring the Spanish tapas concept to America with over 31 restaurants throughout the country. His businesses range from 2-starred Michelin restaurant Minibar by Jose Andres — “a study in avant-garde cooking where each bite is designed to thrill the senses by pushing the limits of what we have come to expect” — all the way to Pepe Food Truck, a mobile food truck that offers a variety of sandwiches ranging from jamon serrano y queso manchego to a Spanish pork burger with alioli and brava sauces.

Andres also noted the importance of olives to the Spanish economy, particularly in lower income areas without many sources of revenue.

“Olives are easy to package and are produced in rural areas,” explained Andres. “To import them is always good for those places.”

Andres has dedicated a significant part of his long career to humanitarian work and helping those in need. In 2010, he established World Central Kitchen, a non-profit “that provides smart solutions to end hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies.” The organization served over 3.6 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

More recently, in 2016 Andres pulled out of a restaurant deal at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., protesting Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexicans during his presidential campaign. He remains an outspoken critic of the current president’s policies.

To learn more about Chef Jose Andres or Spanish olives, check out https://haveanoliveday.eu/ or his own website at http://www.joseandres.com.

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