Chef José Andrés to Teach Food Class

The spring course, “The World on a Plate: How Food Shapes Civilization,” is open to all students and explores the intersections of food and society.

October 29, 2012

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World-renowned Spanish chef José Andrés will bring his vast knowledge of food this spring to his first-ever course at the George Washington University.

The 1.5-credit hour course, “The World on a Plate: How Food Shapes Civilization,” is open to all students and will be held Mondays between Jan. 14 and April 22 from 4 to 5:20 p.m. in GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium. Students follow normal registration procedures to sign up for the course; its registration number is HONR 5701.11 and 230 spots are open.

“Food is the ideal context for communicating ideas. Eating is the one thing, besides breathing, that we all do from the day we are born until the day we die. Food is that thread that runs through the fabric of society: culture, energy, art, science, the economy, national security, the environment, health, politics, diplomacy,” said Mr. Andrés, a member of GW’s Urban Food Task Force and special adviser on food issues to President Steven Knapp. “I could not be more proud than to bring this idea—an education course focused on the power of food and how it changes the world—to life here at GW.”

Mr. Andrés added that the commitment from the GW community, especially Dr. Knapp and his wife, Diane Knapp, shows “innovation and leadership in new ideas.”

“José Andrés is internationally renowned both as a culinary innovator and a visionary humanitarian,” Dr. Knapp said. “We are delighted that this new course will bring his passion for connecting food and education to our students.”

Although subject to small changes, the probable outline includes classes on:

  • How food has shaped the world
  • History of food
  • Craft of cooking food
  • Science of food
  • Food crisis and international aid
  • Food supply chain
  • Food and politics
  • Food as an industry
  • Food and public health
  • Food and national security
  • Hunger and obesity
  • Food and culture

Mr. Andrés will teach some of the classes. The rest will be taught by GW faculty and guest lecturers, including Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel series “Bizarre Foods”; Harold McGee, author of “On Food and Cooking”; Alice Kamps, who curated the National Archives exhibit “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?”; and Philip Derfler, the deputy administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional guest lecturers will be announced at a later date.

Denis Cioffi, director of GW’s Teaching and Learning Collaborative, is helping to oversee the course. Dr. Cioffi said the class makes connections between disciplines often viewed separately—like science, history, culture, politics and security—and will encourage problem-solving on individual, community and national levels. It also allows students to hear from internationally known experts.

The new course won’t be Mr. Andrés’ first time on campus. In March 2011, he participated in a panel about food issues hosted by the Urban Food Task Force. And in September 2011, he joined longtime friend and acclaimed chef Ferran Adrià in an appearance at Lisner Auditorium. Mr. Andrés has also been instrumental in developing a pilot program integrating food and nutrition into the curriculum at the School Without Walls, a D.C. public high school located on GW’s campus.

A James Beard Award-winner, Mr. Andrés is internationally recognized as a culinary innovator; owns ThinkFoodGroup, which includes restaurants Jaleo and Oyamel, among others; has authored several cookbooks; and frequently appears in national television and radio features. He is active in hunger and nutrition issues and launched the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which aims to feed people in humanitarian crises around the world.