NEW YORK (AP) — Chef Jose Andres hopes that by boosting the profile of Haitian cuisine, he can inspire more travelers to visit.
Andres turned his culinary adventures around Haiti into a one-hour film special called "Undiscovered Haiti With Jose Andres." It's airing on PBS stations this fall and can also be watched online.
"It's a great country," Andres said during an interview in New York earlier this month.
The special shows him spending time with local chefs and markets, and sampling island specialties ranging from spicy pikliz sauce to djon-djon rice and akasan, a sweet, thick milky beverage.
Andres says adventurous travelers will find plenty to do in Haiti. "The best of Africa, the best of the Caribbean, the best of America ... all here," he says in the show, in between hunting for crabs, visiting a hilltop fortress and attending a voodoo ceremony. Former President Bill Clinton and chef Mario Batali make guest appearances.
Andres first visited Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to help with rebuilding, and founded the World Central Kitchen when he got back to the U.S., a nonprofit that fights hunger and poverty in developing nations. As part of that effort, he opened a bakery in an orphanage in Haiti that not only feeds the orphans and staff there, but also provides job-training for the kids and has become such a successful business that it is bringing in several thousand dollars a month.
Back in the U.S., Andres is busy growing his empire of 20-plus restaurants. Best known for Jaleo, his tapas restaurants (one in Las Vegas and three in Washington, D.C., and its suburbs), Andres is opening a J by Jose Andres restaurant in Mexico City in November as well as a Bazaar restaurant in an SLS hotel opening next year in New York City. It will be his fourth Bazaar, which offers high-end Spanish cuisine.
His other eateries range from China Chilcano in Washington, where the menu reflects Peru's Asian-influenced fusion cuisine, to Mi Casa in Dorado, Puerto Rico, pairing Puerto Rican cuisine with Spanish fare.
How does a modern chef keep standards high with so many different types of restaurants in so many different locations? Andres says it's about hiring excellent people to run his kitchens. As for his role, he says, "You are the conductor. You don't play every instrument per se, but you play them all."
"Undiscovered Haiti With Jose Andres": http://video.pbs.org/program/undiscovered-haiti-jose-andres/