Who is on Bezos space flight?
By Christian Davenport9:12 a.m. The New Shepard rocket, carrying Jeff and Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen has lifted off from Blue Origin's launch site in West Texas. The flight is expected to reach a high point of more than 62 miles before it falls back to Earth. The Washington PostJeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen reach space, return safely on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket
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22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm
Jeff Bezos has just given CNN's Van Jones and celebrity chef Jose Andres $100 million each to donate to the charity of their choice just hours after spending $5.5billion on his 10-minute space journey.
The world's richest man gave the two men what he called a 'courage and civility award' in Texas on Tuesday following his successful space launch.
They were both on hand to accept their $100 million, which was announced at the conclusion of Bezos' space launch press conference.
Jones is a CNN political contributor and founder of Dream Corps, which is a nonprofit for criminal justice reform.
Andres, a Spanish chef who founded World Central Kitchen - a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters, received the $100 million.
Jeff Bezos gave CNN's Van Jones $100 million on Tuesday for what he called a 'courage and civility award'. As he accepted the award, an emotional Jones said: 'Sometimes dreams come true'
CNN's Van Jones and celebrity chef Jose Andres were both on hand to accept their $100 million, which was announced at the conclusion of Bezos' space launch press conference
Bezos noted that the two men can choose to donate the money to whatever charities they choose, including their own.
Jones' small non-profit had a total of $2.5 million in assets as of 2019, according to the latest available tax records.
As he accepted the award, an emotional Jones said: 'Sometimes dreams come true' and that 'the headlines around the world should be anything is possible if you believe'.
'Lauren and Jeff don't do nothing small - they just don't do it. They dream big, they love big, they bet big. You bet on me and I appreciate it,' he said, while mentioning Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
Jones went on to gush over Bezos, saying the billionaire had lifted 'the ceiling off of people's dreams of humanity'.
'That's an important thing. Don't be mad about it. When you see somebody reaching for the heavens, be glad, because a lot more heaven is up there to reach for. And we can do that together,' Jones said.
'If this small group of people can make miracles happen in outer space, a bigger group of people can make miracles happen down here, and we're going to do it.'
Jones went on to gush over Bezos, saying the billionaire (pictured above together) had lifted 'the ceiling off of people's dreams of humanity'
Jones revealed that Bezos had called him over the weekend to inform him of the award.
'He said that he thought that my attempts to try to bring people together across party lines, across racial lines had been inspiring, and can I use some more support,' Jones said.
'I really didn't know what to say.
'You got people coming out of prisons, you have got people on reservations, you have got people in Appalachia, you have got people at the border, all people.
'This country is unbelievable what people are doing, and how much heart they have and how much love they have. They don't care about these things we divide over sometime and they need more support. If we can connect them with more resources, it is going to make a big difference.'
Bezos said his new philanthropic initiative will recognize leaders who 'pursue solutions with courage'.
It is not clear how many Bezos plans to hand out.
The second award was given to Spanish chef Jose Andres, who is founder of World Central Kitchen - a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters
Celebrity chef Jose Andres was also given $100 million to donate to the charity of his choice
Bezos announced earlier this year that he was stepping down as Amazon CEO to devote more time to philanthropy.
He has been criticized in the past for only donating a small portion of his $160 billion fortune to philanthropic causes.
Meanwhile, his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, is renowned for having already donated a huge portion of her wealth since divorcing Bezos in 2019.
Scott - who helped create Amazon and is worth $60 billion - showed up Bezos earlier this year and appeared to take swipe at him for profiting during the COVID pandemic while millions of Americans and people around the world lost their jobs.
She revealed she had personally donated $4.1billion of her own fortune, adding that that the wealth of billionaires had increased amid the pandemic.
It was the latest example of how MacKenzie has publicly one-upped her ex with her giving.
She has given 9.4 percent of her wealth to charity in the last year alone but public records suggest he has donated $3.8billion over the last 10 years - 2 percent of his total wealth.
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22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced plans to donate $100 million each to chef José Andrés and TV analyst Van Jones.
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Wallace "Wally" Funk became the oldest person ever in space when she and Jeff Bezos' crew launched into space. USA TODAY Handout
Jeff Bezos had one more big surprise following his brief jaunt to space.
The Amazon founder, who recently completed a trip aboard the New Shepard rocket from his aerospace company Blue Origin, announced plans to donate $100 million each to chef José Andrés and TV analyst Van Jones.
In a press conference held after Bezos' voyage, the billionaire said he was launching a Courage and Civility Award aimed at recognizing leaders who pursue solutions with courage, and do so with civility.
"We need unifiers and not vilifiers," Bezos said, noting the award was for recipients who work hard for what they believe, but do so with civility.
"We live in a world where sometimes instead of disagreeing with someone's ideas, we question their character or their motives. Guess what? After you do that, it's pretty damn hard to work with that person. And really what we should always be doing is questioning ideas, not the person."
Jones founded the nonprofit organization Dream Corps, which tackles issues such as criminal justice reform and tech equity. He also works as a contributor for CNN.
"Sometimes dreams come true," Jones said during the press conference.
Andrés founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides emergency food relief.
"I'm so honored," he said. "I'm really grateful for this reward."
The announcement followed the successful launch by Blue Origin of its first manned space flight. Also on board were Jeff Bezos' brother, Mark; famous aviator Wally Funk; and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who received the seat after the winner of an auction for a spot aboard the vessel backed out.
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22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm
“I am beyond honored to accept Jeff Bezos' inaugural Courage & Civility Award,” Jones said in a statement after accepting the award. “I do so with a sense of gratitude, awe and wonder. In my 30 years as an activist and social entrepreneur, I have neither heard nor dreamed of a charitable prize of this magnitude.”
Back on Earth, Bezos Takes a Disruptive Approach to Decidedly Moderate Philanthropy — Inside Philanthropy
22 July, 2021 - 11:37am
We’ve begun to use the phrase “apex donor” to describe a new crop of billionaire givers who’ve thrown out the old playbook, employing unusual grantmaking practices to move large chunks of money fast and largely free of restrictions. MacKenzie Scott is the standout example, but this week gave us yet another indication that her ex-husband is also keen to play in those waters.
Right on the heels of his trip to the edge of space aboard a capsule launched by his own company, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos made an unexpected announcement. He’s donating $200 million to charity, and he has given two men, Van Jones and José Andrés, total liberty to disburse $100 million apiece to the nonprofits of their choice.
In a post-spaceflight press conference, Bezos described these “Courage and Civility Awards” as a new philanthropic initiative, inviting the expectation that they won’t be a one-off. He also couched the awards in the language of bringing people together. “We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” Bezos said. “We want people who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks.”
Coming as it does a week after Bezos pledged $200 million to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and immediately after he touched down, this seems like a pretty blatant attempt to secure good publicity after the Amazon founder’s “billionaire space race” with Richard Branson became the talk of the internet—talk that hasn’t painted the tycoons in a favorable light. But beyond the PR angle, these new awards have quite a lot to tell us about how Bezos’ giving may evolve, and what version of the apex donor playbook he’s likely to adopt.
For one thing, as if it wasn’t obvious already, Bezos’ selection of Jones and Andres shows he’s no radical. As his philanthropy develops—and it’s still in its early stages—the world’s richest man has taken a fairly uncontroversial “liberal but not progressive” approach, in contrast to the more left-friendly giving of fellow apex donors like Scott and Jack Dorsey. Bezos’ comments during the press conference appear to confirm that course, striking an explicitly centrist tone. “Try being courageous and civil. Try being courageous and a unifier,” he said.
José Andrés, at least, is unlikely to ruffle many feathers with his half of the pot. The celebrated chef is noted for his humanitarian work through the nonprofit he founded, World Central Kitchen, which primarily provides food aid in the aftermath of natural disasters. Originally from Spain, Andres moved to the U.S. as a young man and built a career as a celebrity chef and restaurateur before founding World Central Kitchen in 2010.
It seems as if Andrés will direct the $100 million to his own charity, although it’s hard to say for sure. In his comments at the conference, the chef spoke of an intention to tackle structural problems. “This award itself cannot feed the world on its own, but this is the start of a new chapter for us. It’ll allow us to think beyond the next hurricane to the bigger challenges we face,” Andrés said.
If he wanted, Bezos could have picked two awardees in the humanitarian aid space and kept the proceedings entirely innocuous. But he did stir things up a bit by selecting Jones. A former special advisor to President Obama and longtime CNN commentator, Jones’ imprint in the nonprofit world is quite extensive. Among numerous roles, Jones co-founded and leads the Dream Corps, a social enterprise outfit, and also heads the REFORM Alliance, founded several years back to advance criminal justice reform with a cadre of high-powered entertainers and philanthropists at the helm.
Jones has a mixed reputation in progressive circles. That stems in part from his willingness to amicably cooperate with the Trump administration around certain moderate reforms like the 2018 First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill. He also recently released a documentary titled “Reunited America” along with Meghan McCain, the conservative voice on “The View,” that sought to bridge the nation’s political divide. (It didn’t.) As an aside, it is, in fact, Andrés who has tangled with Trump in the past, over a decision to withdraw a restaurant location from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
By picking the relatively moderate Jones, Bezos has declined, for now, to get behind more progressive Black nonprofit leaders in the way his fellow apex donors have done with gifts to Black Lives Matter movement groups that are seeking more transformative change.
It’s unclear as of now exactly what Jones plans to do with his $100 million, but multiple organizations are likely to get a piece. In a press conference with no shortage of odd statements, Jones offered his own, cementing his centrist bona fides by talking about bridging the divides of sector and class and speaking favorably about the “genius” of contemporary business magnates.
“Can you imagine,” Jones said, “grassroots folks from Appalachia, from the hood, [from] Native American reservations, having enough money to be able to connect with the geniuses that have disrupted the space industry, disrupted taxis and hotels and bookstores, to start disrupting poverty, to start disrupting pollution, to start disrupting the $90 billion prison industry together?”
One big question going forward is whether Bezos intends to make a habit of this. Unlike Scott’s giving, Bezos’ philanthropy has been scattershot and feels reactive, a way to snatch up some good press while his daily efforts are focused elsewhere. In this, he’s closer to fellow space-racing billionaire Elon Musk, another emerging apex donor with an imagination-defying fortune and a relatively sparse giving record.
That said, we have been getting some clarity about Bezos’ philanthropic outlook, particularly through his big pledge last year of $10 billion to fight climate change via the Bezos Earth Fund, close to $1 billion of which has gone out the door. Though much of that money has gone to well-established “big green” organizations, there have been some signs of a more progressive strain amidst Bezos’ climate giving.
What is radical about these new awards, though, is the mechanism of their distribution. Plenty of individuals wield power over where philanthropic money goes—just take a look at our newly released Inside Philanthropy Power List—but it’s still rare to see giving handled quite like this.
Here are two individuals who have been given complete autonomy over where to direct sums of money that rival the grantmaking budgets of all but the largest of foundations. It’s at once an exercise in trust by Bezos as well as a full-throated exercise in power. In the millennia-old tradition of patronage, it pays to know Bezos, and it pays to be known by him.
Bezos embraced the lean-and-mean philosophy in his own remarks. “No bureaucracy, no committees, they just do what they want,” he said. “They can give it all to their own charity, or they can share the wealth. It’s up to them.”
Just to speculate a bit, say these personality-driven awards become a regular occurrence. Say we have, on a semi-annual basis, large chests of Bezos lucre passing through the hands of anointed intermediaries—not funds or professional advisors, but people directly selected by the kingmaker himself. It’s a novel and somewhat scary way to think about the future of the nonprofit world, especially since Bezos isn’t the only mega-billionaire with endless funds on hand and a reputation to salvage.
And if bolstering his reputation is a primary object of Bezos’ philanthropy, as this recent giving suggests, he’s likely going to have a hard time of it. As massive as the numbers are in and of themselves, these awards represent just a thousandth of his wealth, which he accumulated while contributing only a relative pittance to the public coffers. As far as apex donors go, Bezos’ ex-wife has been far more successful at deploying charity to reputational effect. And Scott has taken a far more pointed stance on the questions of structural inequality that come along with billionaire giving.
Of course, Bezos’ refusal to take a pointed stance in his giving is a stance itself. With this embrace of “civility,” he embraces the status quo, and it’s a status quo he’s done phenomenally well by, all talk of disruption aside.
In a telling moment of tone deafness, Bezos began his remarks at the press conference by thanking every Amazon employee and customer for paying the tab on his spaceflight, a venture many critics have panned as a personal ego trip. Drawing light laughter from the audience, the remark was a civil gloss on a structurally uncivil reality.
As gratifying as it is to finally see Bezos moving large sums of money toward nonprofit work, it’s unlikely his giving will acknowledge or come to terms with the structural inequities that enabled his wealth anytime soon.
22 July, 2021 - 10:40am
Here's to having longer tables and not higher walls!
Here's some news you don't hear every day: Jeff Bezos—the billionaire Amazon founder and former CEO who just blasted into space earlier this week—spent his return down to Earth passing out millions of dollars.
Though Bezos is the one who cited his trip to space as the "best day ever" once he re-emerged from his capsule, celebrated chef José Andrés might be able to argue the same for himself as he was the recipient of a $100 million donation. Honored with being the first of two to receive the Courage and Civility Award, one of the big perks for the World Central Kitchen founder that came along with the title was that astounding amount of money donated by none other than Jeff Bezos himself.
According to the Washington Post, Bezos prefaced the donation by letting the audience know that "unifiers and not vilifiers" are what's needed in the world today and then went on to say that the world is in desperate need of those who "argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but always with civility and never ad hominem attacks."
To the people of the world making food a bright light in dark times: thank you from the bottom of my heart. No single donation or gesture by itself can end hunger. But today we write a new chapter—no action too small, no idea too bold, no problem too big for us to solve together. pic.twitter.com/QPsnkIaQXU
Andrés—who revealed that World Central Kitchen would like to use the funds to "double food aid" around the world—sees the amount of money as a way to start a new chapter: "It will allow us to think beyond the next hurricane to the bigger challenges we face. People of the world: Now is the time to think really big, to solve hunger with the fierce urgency of now," Andrés said, per The Hill.
Along with Andrés, Van Jones, CNN commentator and founder of the non-profit Dream Corps, was also a recipient of a $100 million prize from Bezos. Both founders were told the extensive amount of money can be used to build up their own organizations or—if feeling charitable themselves—they could also "share the wealth" with other nonprofit groups in need.
22 July, 2021 - 09:07am
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had just been to space—not a bad accomplishment for a Tuesday—but wasn’t yet done performing impressive feats when he sat down for his post-launch press conference. Clad in the electric blue jumpsuit of his space travel company Blue Origin and his now-viral tan cowboy hat, Bezos—the world’s richest person, worth an estimated $200 billion—leaned into the mic.
“I have a little surprise for you,” Bezos, flanked by his flight crew, said. “I am announcing a new philanthropic initiative. It is called the Courage & Civility Award. It recognizes leaders who aim high and who pursue solutions with courage.” Then he dropped the bombshell: the award consisted of two $100 million donations to the first two recipients—one to CNN pundit and activist Van Jones and one to superstar chef José Andrés.
Bezos said Jones and Andrés could direct the funds how they see fit—either to their own charities or share with other groups. “No bureaucracy,” he claimed. The gifts come shortly after Bezos made a July 14 commitment of $200 million to D.C.’s Smithsonian museum and, last year, a $10 billion pledge to combat climate change through his Bezos Earth Fund, amid other initiatives. A source familiar with Jones’ thinking told Forbes that he “was given absolute autonomy on all decision-making” about distributing the funds and added that “the gift came as a surprise to Van, so while he’s thrilled, he plans to be strategic and methodical in vetting a range of organizations to ensure they make optimal use of the funds to help others.” World Central Kitchen, Andrés’ nonprofit, did not respond to questions; neither group disclosed whether the gift was a one-time donation or a multi-year pledge.
Bezos’ known charitable gifts, totaling more than $13 billion, would rank him among the biggest donors ever. Except all but about $1.5 billion of that sum are pledges of future money—meaning he hasn’t given the cash away yet. Meanwhile, another major Amazon stockholder is giving away a greater percentage of her fortune, and doing it much faster: Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.
Scott married Jeff Bezos in 1994, the same year Bezos founded Amazon from their Bellevue, Washington garage. When the couple split in 2019, Scott got a quarter of Bezos’ Amazon shares, a 4% stake worth $34 billion at the time. She quickly got to work.
In July 2020 she announced her first round of gifts: a total of $1.675 billion awarded to 116 organizations, including Howard University, a historically black university, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which supports equality in education. And the donations came without strings attached—a departure from much of big philanthropy, where dollars tend to be earmarked by their donors for certain programs or uses. Another round of gifts, totaling $4.1 billion to 384 groups, came in December, followed by a third round of $2.7 billion to 286 groups in June 2021. In all, about 780 charitable groups have received funds from Scott to date and were immediately able to put those funds to use, according to nonprofit leaders who spoke to Forbes.
Bezos’ biggest donations, on the other hand, are typically doled out over a long period of time, making Tuesday’s “no bureaucracy” giveaway seem like an exception to his pattern of giving. Take the recent $200 million gift to the Smithsonian: it’s a pledge, meaning the museum will receive the money over time. (A museum rep declined to disclose the payment schedule.) The Bezos Earth Fund is likewise a pledge. Despite an eye-popping commitment of $10 billion, Bezos has publicly donated just $791 million to date, with a plan to give the entire amount by 2030. His first multi-billion dollar philanthropic initiative came in 2018 with the Bezos Day One Fund, which aims to establish a network of nonprofit preschools and aid organizations working with homeless people. To date, Bezos has given just over $300 million of the $2 billion he’s pledged to the initiative. (The Bezos Day One Fund looks similar in many ways to Scott’s giving, with donations going to nonprofits all around the U.S.)
In total, Bezos’ pledges of $12 billion amount to 6% of his current $200 billion fortune. But with $1.5 billion in known out-the-door donations, so far Bezos has actually given away less than one percent of his current net worth. Scott, meanwhile, has already given away 14% of her current net worth (which stands at $60 billion, thanks to Amazon’s skyrocketing stock price)—including 10% in a single year.
At the height of nationwide unrest over the murder of George Floyd, Scott targeted the lion’s share of her donations toward groups focusing on racial equity and economic mobility, such as the Advancement Project, Black Girls Code and the Center for Policing Equity. She also committed to keep giving away her wealth “until the safe is empty.” For the three tranches of donations Scott’s made to date, she included a complete list of groups that received funds, but does not disclose how much is given to each. (The groups are free to disclose the amounts if they desire.)
Bezos’ philanthropic goals are decidedly more vague. His Earth Fund simply says it will grant money to “scientists, NGOs, activists, and the private sector to help drive new technologies, investments, policy change and behavior.” But he has given a bit more detail than Scott when it comes to specific amounts given: 16 organizations have received part of the nearly $800 million in funds donated so far, with the largest amount, $100 million, going to the World Wildlife Fund. Bezos told TV journalist Charlie Rose in 2016 that he would try to match fellow billionaire Bill Gates’ prolific philanthropy “if there is anything left after I finish building Blue Origin.”
The two also diverge when it comes to the organizations they’ve chosen to support. Bezos has so far favored big-ticket names (the Smithsonian, Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute) while Scott has made a point of selecting grassroots and hyperlocal community groups. Scott wrote in her blog in June that she’s “attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change” and “it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands.”
21 July, 2021 - 04:23pm
The donation equals about .04 percent of the Amazon billionaire’s net worth
Expectedly, Andrés will channel his share into World Central Kitchen, his charity devoted to feeding people during times of disaster, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m so honored. I’m really grateful for this award, and the incredible support from Jeff and the entire Bezos family. World Central Kitchen was born from the simple idea that food has the power to create a better world. A plate of food is a plate of hope … it’s the fastest way to rebuild lives and communities.
This award itself cannot feed the world on its own. But this is the start of a new chapter for us — it will allow us to think beyond the next hurricane to the bigger challenges we face. People of the world: now is the time to think really big, to solve hunger with the fierce urgency of now.
The thing we want to do is revolutionize disaster and hunger relief. People don’t want our pity, they want our respect … the least we can do is be next to them when things get tough...
While a $200 million donation is nothing to scoff at and will certainly go to good use — especially within World Central Kitchen — the amount is chump change to Bezos who, as the richest man in the world, has a $205 billion net worth. Not considering tax write-offs, the donations are together worth .08 percent of Bezos’s income.
The announcement of the new award comes at a time when Bezos is facing a lot of criticism, in part due to his expensive little space trip, but also because of the purported treatment of Amazon employees, especially Amazon drivers and warehouse workers. As Lauren Kaori Gurley reported for Vice in May 2021, “the fact that Amazon delivery drivers pee in bottles and coffee cups in their vans is not invented. It has been well-documented, and is a huge talking point among many delivery drivers. It is one of the most universal concerns voiced by the many Amazon delivery drivers around the country that Motherboard has interviewed. Delivery workers, who drive Amazon emblazoned vans, often deliver up to 300 packages a day on a 10-hour shift. If they take too long, they can be written up and fired.” Amazon is also known for its history of union-busting, as well as its leaked campaigns to smear workers who speak out against the company.
Does Bezos’s hefty donation to a worthy cause help negate his near-mythic position as an megalomaniacal enemy of the working class, an updated — and Alexa compatible — caricature of a greedy railroad baron? I think not, but also believe that everyone (World Central Kitchen, included) should take his money.
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21 July, 2021 - 01:28pm
In a press conference back on Earth, Bezos made the day pretty great for chef José Andrés too, announcing that the World Central Kitchen founder would be one of the first two recipients of the Courage and Civility Award, a just-created honor that comes with $100 million of Bezos' money. (The other Courage and Civility award — and another $100M prize — went to Van Jones, a CNN commentator and founder of the nonprofit Dream Corps organization.)
"We need unifiers and not vilifiers," Bezos said, according to the Washington Post. "People who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. And unfortunately we live in a world where this is too often not the case."
"World Central Kitchen was born from the simple idea that food has the power to create a better world," Andrés said. "A plate of food is a plate of hope, it is the fastest way to rebuild life and communities. And this award itself cannot feed the world on its own, but this is the start of a new chapter for us. It will allow us to think beyond the next hurricane to the bigger challenges we face. People of the world: now is the time to think really big, to solve hunger with the fierce urgency of now."
Andrés added that World Central Kitchen would like to "double food aid" around the world, and help three billion people to successfully transition from "dirty cookstoves" to clean ones. "We will be there with our boots on the ground when disaster strikes," he said. "But we will also shoot for the stars, fighting hunger and the causes of hunger. Whether you are on the ground or the top of the world it's obvious that we the people — we are one people, one planet, sharing our daily bread together."
World Central Kitchen was founded in 2010 and, as of this writing, it has served more than 50 million meals throughout the world, often in response to natural disasters or other large-scale tragedies, like the deadly explosion that rocked Beirut, Lebanon last summer or last month's condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida. In the earliest days of the pandemic, World Central Kitchen even worked with Princess Cruises to feed the passengers and crew members that had to quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship for more than two weeks.
Bezos told Andrés and Jones that they could use the $100 million for their own charitable organizations or they could "share the wealth" and donate some of it to other nonprofit groups.
"I always say that I believe in longer tables not higher walls," Andrés said. "So let's go and let's feed the world!" If anyone can find a way to do that, it's José Andrés.