Chef Jose Andres with Secretary Hillary ClintonIt’s a bold statement, but it’s not often that America’s respected Time magazine is wrong; according to their latest Top 100 of influential people, Asturian chef, José Andrés, is the 21st most influential person in America. Barack Obama, America’s current President, fares rather less well, only managing a comparatively lowly 62nd place.

Andres started his career as one of Ferran Adria’s sorcerers’ apprentices at the internationally renowned El Bullí restaurant, before moving to America 20 years ago. These days he is one of the biggest names in American cuisine and widely credited for introducing the country to the concept of tapas, or ‘small plates’, as they are known in the USA.

Jose Andres Puerta Time MagazineNow José Andrés Puerta is a culinary superstar in his own right and owns a number of fine restaurants mostly in the Washington DC area: minibar by José Andrés is his smallest venture, serving a tasting menu every night to only two lucky diners! Jaleo, in Las Vegas, specialises in traditional Spanish tapas – albeit with a typically imaginative José Andrés twist, Zaytinya offers mezze encompassing the finest Ottoman traditions of Greece, Turkey and Lebanon, while Oyamel concentrates on small dishes and antojitos (Mexican street snacks). Chef Andrés is also in charge of America Eats Tavern, in conjunction with the Foundation for the National Archives.

In 2011 America’s favourite Spaniard won the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef Award, which is the highest professional honour that anyone working in American gastronomy can receive.

No wonder that he is considered more important than this vast country’s president!