March 20, 2023

José Andrés

CEO & Executive Chairman / José Andrés Group
Founder / World Central Kitchen

Chef José Andrés addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on March 20, in front of a live audience. The conversation was moderated by Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. Topics ranged from his journey as a chef, the importance of adaptability and learned lessons from working in areas experiencing a crisis and more.

We need to put plans aside and start embracing complexity and start enjoying adaptation.

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Chef José Andrés on how people can best serve their communities.


José Andrés

Founder / World Central Kitchen

Born in Spain, where he learned the craft of cooking first from his parents and then in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià’s groundbreaking avant-garde restaurant elBulli – José Andrés immigrated to the United States in 1991, first to New York City and later to Washington, D.C., where he and his partners established a group of restaurants that has earned countless fans and won numerous awards over the years. José holds close both his identity as a Spanish immigrant and an American citizen, placing upon himself the responsibility of both culinary ambassador and immigrant representing the two nations. He is a visionary and a humanitarian, establishing World Central Kitchen in 2010 as a means for feeding the many – using culinary training programs to empower communities and strengthen economies as well as food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe. He has been widely recognized for both his culinary and his humanitarian work, including by the James Beard Foundation – which named him Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2003, as well as Humanitarian of the Year in 2018; TIME Magazine, which included him on the list of 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and 2018; and President Obama, who awarded José the National Humanities Medal in 2015. José holds two Michelin stars for his avant-garde tasting counter minibar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C., as well as four Bib Gourmands.


Claire Babineaux-Fontenot

CEO / Feeding America

As Chief Executive Officer, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot oversees the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and second-largest U.S. charity, according to Forbes. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries, and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year while supporting programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve. Prior to joining Feeding America, Claire spent 13 years on Walmart’s leadership team, with her most recent role being executive vice president and global treasurer. In this role, she had global responsibility for tax, treasury operations, capital markets, investor relations, global risk management, casualty, and self-insurance, leading teams across 28 countries and over 1,000 associates worldwide. A Louisiana native, Claire has been entrusted with the leadership of teams for nearly three decades. Before Walmart, she was partner-in-charge of the Baton Rouge office and tax practice leader for Adams and Reese LLP, one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms.” Earlier in her career, she was dispute resolution practice group leader for the southwest region at PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) and an assistant secretary for the Office of Legal Affairs for the State of Louisiana. With a deep personal commitment to strengthening communities, Claire has long been an avid volunteer and board member. She has volunteered in the fight against hunger and other causes since her youth. Later, she served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the board of directors and audit committee for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the board of trustees and finance and audit committee for the National Urban League and the National Association of Black Accountants. She also was on the corporate advisory board for the Association of Latino Professionals for America. Additionally, she served on the global board of directors and executive committee of the Walmart Foundation. Her board experience also includes the board and the audit committee for Walmart Chile S.A, chair of the board of directors for ATLAS Technical Consultants and audit committee member, and nominating and governance committee chair at Charah Solutions. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of New York Life and is a member of the audit committee and investment committee. Claire was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2020. Claire holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, a Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La.; and a Master of Laws in Taxation from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas.