Chef and humanitarian José Andrés oversees not only the expanding empire of restaurants in his ThinkGoodGroup portfolio, but also World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that tackles issues of hunger and poverty around the world and at home. When Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico last year, the D.C.-based Andrés amassed a fleet of volunteers to cook millions of meals for the island’s inhabitants, an experience that he documented in his new book, We Fed an Island.
Here, Andrés reveals his tips and tools for getting the most out of every day.
What’s your Off Switch?
My off switch is to play Tanks or Fortnite for 30 minutes–just long enough to clear my head. Also in the summertime one of my favorite things to do at the end of a long day is to watch the lightning bugs with a glass of good Spanish wine in my hand.
What’s your On Switch?
Even before I have my coffee, even before my girls and I have fresh citrus juice, I like to start my day with time on the elliptical, watching a documentary or new TV series. It gets my brain and body moving!
What’s a product that you are currently in love with?
I absolutely could not live without my iPhone X. It is not just one tool but a million. I record voice memos for new ideas for dishes, FaceTime into meetings, take notes and photos, set a timer for when I am making paella, connect with my teams on the ground in disaster zones through WhatsApp, play video games, watch TV. I would be lost without it.
What’s a high-price-tag product that you recently splurged on?
I have a Farmshelf installed in my house. It is an amazing indoor garden that lets me grow herbs and ingredients that I can’t find anywhere else, instead of buying them and shipping them from far away.
What service or tool can you not live without?
I have to say Twitter. It is an incredible universe of conversations between chefs, farmers, humanitarians, politicians, activists, scientists, teachers, students–everyone, really! When we are working in disaster zones like we have for the last year it has become our window to the world. While working in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Hawaii, Indonesia, and beyond it has kept us connected to the rest of the world. We are all connected, all one army thanks to Twitter.
What do you do with the free time you have?
With just five minutes, I’ll open up a cookbook and read a few recipes, learn new techniques and history.
If I have a free hour at home, my girls and I will go out and work in the garden or our beehives.
If I have a whole free day, I will drive to Virginia to visit wineries, to eat at new restaurants, to discover an inn that my wife and I haven’t seen yet. A full day with a friends and family. It is amazing to refresh your brain and open yourself up to a new world.
What travel tips do you swear by when you’re on the road?
I like to bring my own chopsticks in my carry-on. You never know when you’ll need them! I have a lightweight bamboo set from Patagonia that I love. I also have a solar-powered phone charger, like the one made by BioLite. It is key when you’re going into disaster zones and you don’t know what the electricity situation is going to be. My wife will tell you that I always pack my utility fishing vest–the one I am always wearing in disaster zones–when we travel, even when we are going on vacation. Disaster can strike at any time, and it’s important to be prepared. I love going into vintage book stores where I go–I’m always on the hunt for old cookbooks to add to my collection. Always, no matter where you are, get out and go to the local bar and spend some time talking to people. You never know who you are going to meet.