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An Award for ‘We the People’

July 2019

In a June 25 awards ceremony in Singapore, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awarded José with its first-ever American Express Icon Award, saluting him “not only for his global culinary contributions, but for his leadership empowering and connecting communities around the world through food” (read more about the nomination here).

In its announcement, the World’s 50 Best wrote, “Humanitarian. Immigrant. Chef. Three words that define José Ramón Andrés Puerta and his priorities better than any other. This is a man who takes philanthropy as seriously as fine dining; an individual who has made it his mission to do right to others on his journey to the top.”

On accepting the award at the World’s 50 Best ceremony in Singapore, José said, “This is not an award for ‘I the person’ but an award for ‘we the people.’ This award really goes to those men and women who, without being recognized, every single day do their best to create a better world.”

The ceremony took place on June 25, the birthday of the late chef, traveler, and storyteller Anthony Bourdain. Proclaiming the date “Bourdain Day,” José and Chef Eric Ripert called on people around the world to celebrate their memories of Bourdain. In his remarks in Singapore, José said he wanted “to recognize the person who brought us all together, who showed us that we are not supposed to be afraid of those who are not like us, who are not of the same religion or skin color, and who showed us that by eating with people we don’t know, we can believe that the world can be a great place again, just by sharing one plate of food at a time.

I do believe everybody really is an icon. There are people we don’t know about who are icons in their own community. And there are people who are doing an amazing job every single day, not being recognized by anybody because nobody knows them. Men and women not expecting anything in exchange by putting their lives at the service of others.”

The Icon Award follows other notable recognition for José and his team: his L.A. restaurant Somni earned two Michelin stars in the first state-wide California guide, and José was named the 2019 recipient of the Julia Child Award, which will be given at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November.

Read the World’s 50 Best nomination and watch José’s remarks.