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House Calls Podcast
Encore | Recipe for Connection
With guest José Andrés,
Chef & Humanitarian

Description

As we enjoy the final swing of summer, we’re sharing one of our most memorable episodes on building connection.  

Why is food a foundation for human connection? Chef José Andrés has spent a lifetime of cooking for friends & family at home, in his many restaurants, and for people stricken by disaster around the world. For José, sharing and providing food spreads the empathy he believes people naturally possess for one another. This conversation between the nation's doctor and the global chef will make you want to break bread with those near and far, and it will leave you laughing over the unforgettable story of José's most stunning kitchen catastrophe. 

 

 

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Transcript

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Hello and welcome to House Calls. I'm Vivek Murthy, and I have the honor of serving as U.S. Surgeon General. I'd like to introduce you to José Andrés, an Award-Winning, Chef and Humanitarian. We believe conversations can be healing. And today, we'll be talking about how food can be a source of connection and support in stressful times. This episode serves up love, empathy, and inspiration for a warm meal.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

José, it is so nice to see you again. Thank you so much for making time again for this conversation. Really appreciate it.

José Andrés

Thank you. No, really, thank you for having me.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

José, you know, I was thinking about one of my most recent memories of you. And I don't think I ever, we ever talked about this, but I was at this TEDx talk in D.C., and a good friend of mine was giving a talk there. And it turns out you were as well. And I remember you came onto the stage and you gave this incredible presentation, and I was inspired and so many people were moved in the audience. But one of the things I actually remember about that is that you were actually barefoot at the time on the stage. And that always stuck with me because it was, to me, a reminder of how you were so comfortable in your own skin. And it's something I really admire about you. And it seems like you are able to move through the world just being yourself and your authentic self. And I wanted to actually start there and just ask you, have you always felt that way? Comfortable with who you are able to move through the world as yourself? Or was it a journey to get there?

José Andrés

Well. It's so funny you will remember about this. But I think so. I think I've always been very happy with the world. But to be happy with the world obviously, you have to be happy with yourself. I'm saying this is probably if my wife is listening, and my daughters, they will say I'm at times, sometimes, I'm a little bit grumpy boy. But I think we are, we are, never perfect. And maybe on the bad side, when my wife and my daughter say, "Daddy, you're grumpy," means that I'm speaking my mind, that sometimes I have frustrations, like we all do. And me, I try never to keep them inside. I try to share them, especially with the people I love, because I, I want them to know how I feel. We are always talking about the good moments, right? And the good happy moments in life. Sure, we should look for those and celebrate those. And hopefully have the best percentage of our lives through happy moments. But we need also to understand that sometimes life is not perfect, that we go through anxieties, that we go through low points, that we go through these situations where we wish things were better. But they are not. And it's okay sometimes be grumpy or even mad and upset when you feel you're powerless. But all my life I've been trying not to be powerless, but to say I don't want to be in that situation. I'm going to do my best to be better, but also the people around me to be better and whatever situation I am part of to be better. For me, being barefoot is not any different than cooking with my hands. I want I want to feel my food. I want, I want to sense it. I want to know if it's silky, if it's rough, if it's cold, if it's hot. I want, I want the ingredients to talk to me. I want the sun in the beaches to to to tell me something. And I feel like when I'm barefoot, it’s the best expression of myself. Right now I'm talking to you, and I'm I'm barefoot. Why? Because I'm at home, too, and I feel comfortable. So for me to be barefoot somewhere is almost my way to say "I am home." Doesn't matter what part of the world I am part of.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

That's really beautiful, José. I like what you just said at the end, in particular, about it being, it's about you feeling at home. And I remember when I was reflecting for my first term in service as surgeon general about the stories I had heard from people around the country. One of the themes that had come up a lot is people would often say they felt like they didn't belong, that they felt like they were moving through their life and folks wouldn't miss them if they were gone, that they somehow felt invisible. They didn't have a sense of belonging. And to me, that conveyed that many people actually felt homeless, even though there was a roof over their heads. Because home is where you feel you belong, where you feel you matter, where your presence is missed when you're not there. It seems like you have that beautiful feeling of home. And if you think back to your early years, your childhood, I'm just curious, where did that sense of, of self, come from? Was it from your parents? Was it from your friends? I'm curious how you develop that sense of self, that sense of wanting to be at home and feeling secure and being who you are.

José Andrés

I think I have obviously to go back to to my childhood and to my father and mother. We were a family that was middle class. My mom and my father, they were nurses. Actually, my father even worked in an American, in an American base in Spain as a nurse. For me, I always saw my father and my mother working in the hospital. They they had different shifts. And believe it or not, the hospital became the place where they will exchange my three brothers and I. We had the nanny home, and very often the hospital will be the place we will be exchanged between father and mother. I spent a lot of time in hospitals just sometimes waiting for my father or my mother to come out. That's why I feel I feel so like at home, unfortunately, in an emergency room in the hospital, and why maybe in this pandemic has been giving me almost a lot of joy to to be going to a lot of hospitals delivering food because in those moments, I saw not only my mom and my dad, but what we've seen in this pandemic over the last two years and beyond in many parts of America, many parts of the world, was selfless healthcare people, that will go way and above their duty. I saw that and with my mom and my dad and their friends in the hospitals. So I'm telling you this because you will say, are you telling the hospital was home? Well in a way, yes, because every friend my dad and mom had worked in that hospital. The hospital was home for me. In those places, I only saw happiness. You see, your place of work can be home, should should be home, with friendly faces and people that you feel comfortable. Those same people that my father would love to cook for every other weekend. My father would love to cook up very big payaya, a very big rice pot. And my father very much will invite everybody and my mom will be always, like, 'But how many people did you invite this time?' He'd say, 'I don't know. I lost count.' That means that my father always believed in longer tables. My father's saw big problems being, big problems being very simple in their solutions, only you had to be willing to. So my father will always say if more people come, the problem is simple. I will add more rice to the pot. The same thing my mom cooking at home. The kitchen in my house was the place we spend the most time. In the old days used to be that way because we will cook almost every other meal from scratch. Not complicated. My mom worked. My father worked. And had to be meals that were quick and fast and she could feed the entire family with the help of my brothers and my dad. But the kitchen became even being a very small kitchen that we barely could move four people inside, and where the table was in the middle of the kitchen, but was this kind of table will open against the wall up and down depends if we were eating or not. The kitchen became this place with the smells of the red peppers being roasted in the oven. My mother frying the potatoes or making croquetas, that béchamel traditional Spanish dish. That is the way that when you had no more food in the refrigerator, you still could keep feeding an army with leftovers and a lot of creativity and imagination. Those moments, those hours, my father, my mother spent in the kitchen while feeding people, friends on a Sunday celebration, but while, every other day cooking for my brothers and I, I saw every one of those moments of moments of love, of moments of empathy, of moments of ‘I care.’ Going to the bread every morning for me was a happy moment because I was bringing bread back home. Going for the fruit every other day, for the meat once a week, those were moments that very early on I shared with my father and my mother and my three other brothers. This kind of moment that food was was was home. The kitchen was home. But more important than the love of my mom and my dad, not only to feed my brothers and I, but sometimes feeding, it seems, the entire hospital.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

That's beautiful, José. You and I, I think, share this in common, which is that I also grew up with parents who were working in the medical field. And I spent a lot of time as a kid in hospitals and in clinics. And so that was kind of a home for me as well. It's where I, I felt very comfortable. But one of the things that's really striking to me about your story, and, by the way, it sounds like you have absolutely incredible parents. I don't know how they managed after tough days at work to come and cook so much for so many. But one of the things that you're helping me understand is that food was so much more than calories you put in your body. It seems when you were growing up it seemed like it was the love that your mother and father gave you as a child and that they shared with other people. I'm curious, is that how you think about food as love, as a source of connection, as a source of community?

José Andrés

So, listen. Everybody has a love relationship with food. Even if you don't have a clue how to grab a knife or even even less cooking, we all have a memory. There is no good or bad food memories. They are all great memories. Even even if the turkey was dry on Thanksgiving, I'm sure what all we remember is how good the turkey was. And all of it is because you are surrounded by people, people that you love or people that they've been part of your life and your family members. So even new friends that you are going through the amazing experience of knowing them and food is the medium that allows you to have that kind of new window into the life of a new person you are meeting. Food, I mentioned before, longer tables is a beautiful way to see it. But what I believe is at the heart of why humans, and actually any other animal on earth, probably equally. The reason we are so attached to food in ways we are not even able to understand is that Brillat-Savarin, the French philosopher in 1826 in his amazing book, “The Physiology of Taste,” he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” This phrase is very important, but what happens is this: the love we all have for food, of sharing moments with food at a table at home or, or in a restaurant or in a park in the middle of a picnic, the reason we love to share food with people we know or with strangers is because without a doubt, the first moment we ever receive a gift in a tangible form, if we think about it, this is the love of our mothers in the form of food, minutes after we are born. And because we are unconscious, we may think that this has no influence in us. But I do believe these marks humans forever. That’s why we love to smell the amazing the amazing aroma of food because it's bringing back the memories, even when we were unconscious of the smell of that person that gave us love, and those smells is what keeps us connected to to our beginnings, even even if we don't remember them. They are part of the DNA of who we are, of who we become. That is so beautifully put. And I think when you look at food through the lens that you just said it, it puts into perspective I think the work that some of my colleagues have been trying to do in medicine of guiding people to eat food that's healthier. And it makes it clear that you can't just tell people 'eat this, not that,' that our relationship to food is so much more complex and complicated than that. It's about who we eat with. It's about the associations we have with food. You know, and when you think about your own sort of the role that food is played in your own life, when did you know that food was going to be part of how you serve the world, that it was going to be part of the role that you played in the world? I'm 52 now and I'm still looking myself at the mirror and asking myself, what is my relationship with food? Because obviously food is, next to my obviously my my wife and my children are my family and my friends and friends like you and so many others. But food has been, for me, the medium. When the consciousness came, that food was everything I wanted to be. I always say that for me, being a cook has never been a job. It's not been my work. It's just I've been very lucky to always be doing something I adore. For me, when when I'm at work, I cook or I have created menus, so I'm designing restaurants, but when I'm off, I'm cooking and I'm going to the market or I'm visiting restaurants. So for me, cooking is like a 24-7. I mean, I have when I dream, I dream of what I'm going to be shopping or cooking next. So for me, food is, is use a way to to be expressing myself. I think was moments in my life like first time I remember very young visiting a distant relative of ours, of my father, in a very little town in the middle of nowhere. This type of old town with very big thick-walled houses. Dark streets at night because there was no lights. Just the beautiful moon that will, will give light to, to the streets. And we arrived late and it was cold and the house was dark and was these amazing long big table wooden older table with a beautiful smell with a very bare kitchen with almost nothing but a beautiful big fire and a very big pot iron pot and a big bunch of bread crumbs on the table. A little bit of pork fat and two cloves of garlic, and and a very big knife that probably probably was generations old. And, and those bread crumbs was the leftover bread of two weeks before. In some parts, it was even having some greenish mold growing, which, actually, nothing happens. And he was carrying that bread and he put the fat and, and when the fat began melting, he added the bread crumbs and with a wooden spoon he began moving the bread crumbs. Not too hot. Not too cold. Enough for the bread crumbs to start toasting. And after 45-50 minutes in the fire and with only fat the kiss of the pork fat and little bit of the garlic aroma and the bread crumbs that they were not soft anymore, but they were now nice and toasty on this slightly golden color. He will fry two eggs on the side of the same open fire, and he will serve one egg and one a spoonful of those bread crumbs. To that moment, I still remember those simple, humble, moldy bread that became something glorious with these simple fry eggs as one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten in my life. And I think it was moments like these watching my mother. Peeling the red roasted peppers and making these silky, amazing peppers, also with olive oil and garlic, and my father making the fire and telling me that if I wanted to be a cook, most important, before cooking, was controlling the fire. All those little moments, is what began obviously planting the seed in me of understanding that food was a good place for a happy boy like me, where I always wanted to learn. That's why I'm always surrounded with more cookbooks than I have more time to read in the rest of my lifetime. But that for me, food was a way to express myself. But also, food was an nonstop ending place to keep being amazed. Not about all the things I know, but understanding that the more I know, I realize, the more I know I know nothing. And this is what fascinates me about food. That as I'm becoming an expert on my field, every day I become, and many see me as a teacher, every day I realize that I'm more of a student. And every day as older I grow, the less I know and more excited I become because there's so much more that I have to be absorbing.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Well, it's such a humble way to look at your journey, and it also feels very exciting to think that this is a journey of discovery that you're on. And speaking of discovery, you know, I was thinking before we chatted about 1992 and the summer of 1992, I was living in Miami, Florida, and Hurricane Andrew swept through Florida, devastated much of Florida. We were, our home was damaged. We were without phone and power for weeks and weeks. And one of the things that we needed was food and we had some friends who came from a couple of hours away and who were worried about us. They came and they deliver food to us. And on a much, much larger scale this is what you have done with Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. We didn't have a chef José Andres when I was in high school in 1992 going through Hurricane Andrew. But you have brought so much of these communities here in times of distress and I'm curious if you reflect on those experiences through which you use food as a vehicle for not only community in connection, but service, I'm curious what you learned from those experiences and was there anything that surprised you.

José Andrés

Well, I mean, in ‘19, I remember that hurricane. I was watching. I was 22 years old and watching it from New York where I was working. Many of those moments that happened like like Katrina, like September 11, I'm watching in the distance. It’s how I begun getting the anxiety in the distance by not doing anything, of saying, man, it's always good empathy over there. It's random moments of people that will go in the street and put a grill and start feeding first responders, people that were losing everything. So the empathy and the willingness to make it happen was always there. Like the friends came to take care of you. But imagine if we are able just to organize it, how much more powerful we can become? So that was the very basic idea, obviously, of what became World Central Kitchen when I went the first time to Haiti in 2010. Since then, slowly we've been growing. Haiti, we've been there for over 11, 12 years. I began seeing the power of food, which is something I learned very early on when I arrived in 1993 to Washington, D.C. And I learned about DC Central Kitchen, funded by Robert Egger. DC Central Kitchen became this organization which, right now, in this, in this year is celebrating 33 years. The first feeding of DC Central Kitchen was on President Bush's inauguration day and this was on the very simple idea by Robert Egger that food waste was wrong, but more important wasting people's lives was wrong. So, he made sure he began bringing the food and the people, no wasting anybody anymore, and no food either, making meals, feeding the hungry, which is brilliant. You're already taking care of the food waste, giving an opportunity to people, then feeding the hungry. And in the process, those people where were being trained. Restaurants like mine, we could be hiring them. So, every dollar multiply by four. So, I understood the power of food as creating community. So, for me, this was very important as I was learning how we could be having this organization to feed people in disasters. What did they learn through the process? Just take a look. Only the last few months. In the last two years, probably we've done like what, 60, 70, 80 million meals. We've been in 17 cities in India. At one moment and we were in 97 hospitals in India. In one moment, we were in over two, three hundred hospitals all across the United States. At one moment we were doing all the public hospitals of New York and many other cities. Why? Because the systems stop. People didn't have public transportation. Or people were worried. Or people were sick. Or people… Or who knows. It was many reasons why the feeding systems stopped working. So what did I learn is that in the moment you have a simple call to action, that you say, "We can do more. It's not going to be easy. We're going to put ourselves at risk but if we minimize those risks and we have a plan and we protect ourselves and we come up with ways to feed those that are in need of food, what is very clear is like we cannot stay home because people need to be fed." So, what I learned is that you don't have to give people too much of a little flame to create a beautiful fire of empathy. You, people only want a glimpse of hope that something can be done for people to join that that burning fire of saying we're going to be part of the solution. I'm not going to stay behind. So, this is what I've been learning in those moments, especially in this pandemic, that putting putting politics aside, putting if people are Democrats or Republican, right or left. At the end, sincerely, America and the world is just full of wonderful people, full of empathy. That they want to be in communities that work. That they don't want to just be talking about the problems. They want to be part of the solutions. Let's stop talking about the problems. And if we have them and you know you have them you do something about fixing them, period. And that's what I learned in this pandemic. In September, Haiti was an earthquake. We were there in less than 12 hours. We had the hurricane in Louisiana. We were there in less than 6 hours, already feeding. The Afghan refugees, in many cities, across the world we were there, feeding as they were arriving from the many flights leaving Kabul. The Haitians in Texas. We were there feeding the 20-25,000 Haitians under a bridge in a very complicated situation. The volcano, La Palma, we were there within 12 hours of that volcano exploding. Long story short, what I've seen is that we do what we do, only because we are surrounded by an army of people full of empathy. That they only care about helping their fellow citizens because they know they are there today for them. And maybe one day they're going to be there for them. Therefore, this is why I learned: that the only people want leadership that brings people together, that brings the best angels in out of, out of us and puts away the worst demons. That's what people need. That's what people want. And that's what people are showing me every single day with their actions.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

What an inspiring vision. There are two words you've used, José, and then since we started the conversation, which which I really appreciate, but I want to I want to underscore. You used the word ‘love’ and the word ‘empathy.’ And I want to I want to notice that and honor that because it's not that often, like in modern society, that we hear people, especially men, talking about love and empathy, even though they are some of the most powerful forces that we have in life, especially forces for healing. But as many of you could say a little bit about that, about how it is that you came to be comfortable talking about love and empathy. What words of wisdom do you have for society, as we think about how to have conversations about love and empathy, in a world where we often tell people, especially young, young boys and young men, that it's not masculine to talk about such topics?

José Andrés

Yeah, I think we we obviously we we all live in, in a moment that, especially if you are if you are a man, that you need to be strong. You need to be you need to be tall, or taller than everybody else. You have to have more muscles than everybody else. You need to look smart, even if you don't feel like you are. Doesn't matter. It's always, almost, I feel like, without nobody to blame, but maybe it's the way the DNA of humans is created, that that everybody's expecting men to be in a certain way and nothing else works. Right. And I think slowly we are seeing that we need to bring, tear down all those images we may have about men and it's okay to, to to show that that that you may cry sometimes it's okay to feel like you are not and that you are failing at times. It's okay to feel like sometimes you cannot cope with everything you have at your fingertips. I think it's okay that you are not everything everybody always expected from you since you are a little boy. Yeah. And I think it's okay for men to feel vulnerable and to speak about those vulnerabilities openly because it's good for everybody. It's is good for me to say that when I go to feed people in the middle of a hurricane and I go one night in the comfort of my clean room and hot shower where I have food and water at my disposal, that I cry at times, powerless, knowing that I'm leaving behind people that they are going to be going through a hard time. And I don't mind to share with others those moments of weakness, because I do believe by showing your weaknesses is how you really become stronger, because not only do you show who you are in the good and in the in the high moments and in the low moments, but because then others will be able to be there when you are at your lowest and and by all opening ourselves to each other we will be there understanding that we are only as good as the people we have around us, but that we need to open ourselves to others so they know that they can get our help when they need us because we are strong in certain things. But that we know that they will be able to help us when we are in our worst moments, lifting us up from whatever is the darkness we are going through, a hard day, a low moment, a moment of second guessing yourself. That this is okay. It's okay to feel. And empathy and love at the end is what carries those good days. But more important love and empathy is what carries you through those harder more difficult moments in your in your days and your weeks. It's okay to feel down, but is better when you open up to others so they can help you. One day, maybe, you will be able to help them back.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

That is so spot on because I do think that whether you're regardless of your gender, I do think that our ability to connect with love and empathy inside us, to use that as a way to serve others as well, to be ourselves, the world, to look at loving empathy is a source of strength, this is what I think contributes to healing and fulfillment. Those moments of darkness you mentioned. We all go through them. I think many people have experienced them during this pandemic. What do you reach for when you feel that darkness closing in, when you lose hope?

José Andrés

Well. I'm usually a very upbeat guy. But obviously when I have those moments I think is very often probably happens to all of us, that we feel the first feeling we have is ‘I want to be alone!’ ‘Leave me alone!’ We see this in movies. We see this in radio. We see this in sitcoms, in novels, and we know this happens in real life. ‘Leave me alone!’ I think this is the biggest mistake we all do. I think in those moments maybe you don't want somebody do be talking to you on your ear telling you, ‘You should feel better!’ Maybe that's not the thing we all need, but I think we need to reach out to those people that make us holy and we know who they are, because you need to be living with them because if not, you need to ask yourself, maybe it’s a great person, but maybe I shouldn't be living with that person. But in my case, it will be my wife. And me, I'm this kind of man that says, ‘Leave me alone!’ And my wife knows better and doesn't leave me alone. And we go for a walk. We need we don't need to talk or we talk. Or or we talk about things that have nothing to do with anything. You see how white the clouds are today? Oh, yeah. Today's whiter than yesterday. Sometimes it’s good to have conversations about nothing. But me, I'm very lucky. I have my wife next to me on Billy Goat Trail, which is, every every, I think every every person has to have a trail. Doesn't matter if it's a street in your city or or next to a river or somewhere on the field. Or in my case, next to the Potomac. The Billy Goat Trail is my place to go. I have a little mini garden, which I tried, used to grow tomatoes and eggplants unsuccessfully, but I try and I go there and I try to make believe I'm a farmer and I will feed the world with my skills, which I come to realize that the biggest failure in terms of farming in the history of mankind. But this doesn't make me go down. This makes me keep trying, every, every year even harder. And so so this is where I go. Obviously, we all have to have a person. If he's next to us, better. If not, now we have Zoom, we have phone, we have radio, we have whatever. Just find that voice. Find that lighthouse. We all need to understand what our lighthouse is. What those people are that help us reconnect with ourselves. And remember that especially for, for feelings, he even gave this example for that reason but Winston Churchill in the middle of World War Two, he he said something in the terms of talking about what success and failure. He said that success was going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. We sometimes we feel like we fail when we don't feel good about ourselves. Or when things don't go as well with our loved ones because whatever nonsense issue got us into a mini fight, or, or because our friend misunderstood our intentions and now he's upset with us. Or something is going wrong at work or, or you didn't pass the exam to get in the university you wanted to, or who knows the many little moments in our lives that we feel, that we feel that feeling of total failure. What is he going to get us going through is pure enthusiasm. You don't have to be laughing. You don't have to be smiling. But internal enthusiasm of saying, Okay, today didn't go as I wanted, man it's hard, but I'm going to do my best next and this enthusiasm if you can put the mini smile in your face or in your heart, that's going to get you there. Between that and your lighthouse, that person that brings the best out of you, that can listen to you if you want to talk or you can listen. Or you don't listen to anybody. Just grabbing hands and just walking in your favorite trail of your life. This is what keeps me going.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

You sound like you have an amazing wife. And as somebody who's been blessed with amazing wife as well and helps me heal, who knows when I need to not be alone as well, I think we're both lucky men. But you remind me that it is through other people that we find our way back to ourselves so often, and they help us find our way home. That notion of home is where we started this conversation. Thinking about food as a path to bring you love and connection. Thinking about love and empathy as forces that can help you find your grounding and footing in an often uncertain world. You know, José, as we bring our conversation to a close, I want to just ask you a few rapidfire, fun questions, if you will. One is what is your go to comfort food?

José Andrés

But, um, we call it Arroz a la Cubana. It is a dish that doesn't really exist in Cuba, but I grew up with that in Spain and it's like a national dish in Spain even though no restaurant serves it. White rice, homemade tomato sauce, two fried eggs, and maybe a piece of bacon, or pork sausage. That's home. That's a plate that I adore. That I die for.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I love it. That sounds delicious. This conversation, I will tell you, has made me very hungry, so I'm going to have to go find some food afterward. The last question I'll ask you, José, is this. Tell me about your biggest sort of funniest moment of kitchen chaos when things went terribly wrong.

José Andrés

Oh, my God. I have so many. There’s one that I will tell in another… when I'm older because it's way too embarrassing, and it only tells you that English sometimes, and accents make a difference, but that was a funny moment. But I'll tell it in another time. But one that is very amazing. I probably was around 16, 17. And I worked in the summer in a restaurant in North Spain. It was a fish restaurant, the best fish restaurant in that little town. And even though it was a fish restaurant, it had other dishes and one of them was cannellonis. In Catalonia because the many years, centuries before, that they were in parts of Italy, there's a lot of pasta dishes. One of them is this cannelloni made with pork and bread and milk and and béchamel. And this person ordered cannelloni for his entire family, a family of 24. And we plated that all the cannelloni on this very long tray, skinny, that you could put two cannelloni on each side, but was 48 cannelloni on this very long, very long over a meter and a quarter maybe meter-and-a-half long. And we made a cannelloni. I had to put half in the oven and the other half in a salamander to get the cheese melted in the top. The cannelloni's finished. I'm late. Service is about to start so we had to give the cannelloni so the person could take it home. And as I'm leaving the kitchen, even the waiter told me, “Let me help you.” I say “No, no, I want to do it.” I was so proud of the cannelloni I made myself for that gentleman. And as I'm coming out of the kitchen with those doors that are not revolving doors, but they opened and closed on the right and left side on their own that that you see in every restaurant. As I was moving through the doors and I was holding with one hand, one door I'm with my other foot, the other door, and I was going through, I knew I had to move quick because the door closes and because the tray was so long in my back you know, the door could hit the pan and make a mess. I knew all of that. Okay, the pan is hot. As I'm trying to leave, what happens? One woman that just came into the restaurant is crossing by. All this second, I have to stop, but I have to stop I already move my foot. The door is coming from the back. What happens? It hit the back of the tray. The trays kind of moving forward like a missile. What do they…. And the tray is super hot. What do I have in front of me? A very big aquarium with four striped bass and multiple lobsters, spiny lobsters and Maine lobsters. The tray ended, like it was a missile or a submarine going underwater into the aquarium. You could see the entire aquarium becoming kind of white because the béchamel. The striped bass jumping in the air, eating the cannelloni like it was the best feeding frenzy they've ever experienced. I look so embarrassed. Every person in the restaurant saw me. What did I do? I told the guy, “Okay, sorry! I was feeding the fish. Give me, give me 30 minutes." I went back in the kitchen. I made more béchamel. I boiled more cannelloni pasta. I rolled the cannelloni. I put the béchamel again. I grill. Thirty minutes later, I gave him another tray. You know, it was a very embarrassing moment, but actually, I was very proud because in 35 minutes or so, I was able to get another tray going and give it to him. But this was like, probably this should be in a movie because that was like a moment. Hilarious is an understatement.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Oh, my God. And what an incredible recovery. What happened to the sea bass?

José Andrés

The sea bass, it survived. Even I can tell you, it was eaten a few weeks later. It probably was the tastiest sea bass, striped bass, in the history of striped bass. I don't recommend we feed striped bass with cannelloni from now on, but that happened and that was kind of one for the history books.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Well, what an incredibly funny story to end on. José, this has been such a wonderful conversation for me.

José Andrés

Thank you.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Not just for the conversation, but for just the example that you set for leading with love and empathy, for following your passion, for being so open and so vulnerable about those moments of doubt and darkness that we all go through. You certainly left me more inspired and hopeful about the world and I'm just grateful for you, my friend.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Thanks for joining this conversation with José Andrés. Join me for the next episode of House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy. Wishing you all health and happiness.