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José Andrés Joins President Obama's Historic Cuba Visit

March 2016

José made the most of a historic trip to Cuba this week, spending time with everyone from Cuban chefs and entrepreneurs to President Barack Obama himself.

José joined the president’s delegation to Cuba in his capacity as US Culinary Ambassador. His official duties included participating in a panel on business opportunities between the U.S. and Cuba, and leading a roundtable on entrepreneurship in the restaurant industry. Reportedly, José even put together a master class in modern mojito-making on the fly.

From the moment he tweeted “Hello Cuba!” from his seat on the plane, the trip was a typical José whirlwind. During a reception, he warmly greeted chefs and staff at Havana’s Hotel Nacional de Cuba, once host to American stars such as Frank Sinatra and John Wayne.

From there, it was stops at Casa Pilar, a restaurant owned by Spanish entrepreneur Pilar Fernández, and Floridita, the fish restaurant with famous daiquiris and a famous former regular: Ernest Hemingway. The highlight for José’s Instagram followers was definitely seeing him take a seat in a classic car, cigar firmly in hand.

But for José, the most important part of the visit was exchanging ideas and building new relationships. “I’m not here to give advice,” he told Spain’s newspaper El País. “I am here as a small businessman, as a youngster who came to America and who slowly built up his own small company. I am here to share my successes, my failures, my philosophy.”

“I think that the forces of good, of progress, are already out there and nobody can control them,” José added. “What we need to do is for change to be progressive for the good of the Cuban people, for change to be gradual, organized and always forward-moving.”