It was barely possible for superstar chef José Andrés to eat, drink, or talk at his 20th anniversary party, because so many well-wishers crowded around to give him hugs and kisses. They included Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, US senator Mark Warner, Spanish ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares, and DC mayor Vincent Gray. The party, held Tuesday night at Andrés’s flagship Penn Quarter tapas restaurant, Jaleo, was described as only the beginning of a yearlong series of celebrations.
Working the room along with Andrés was his business partner, Rob Wilder, and other members of Think Food Group, which owns Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya, and Minibar in DC, in addition to several other restaurants in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and Miami. But Jaleo came first, in 1993, setting a new standard for Spanish cuisine in the capital.
The party was virtually all Spanish—the food and the drinks. The evening’s cocktail was a gin and Aperol concoction, the red and white wines were from Spain, and the passed food included oysters in gin and tonic and cones with salmon roe. Midway through the party, the kitchen staff brought out a jumbo dish of paella.
The streets outside were packed with spring tourists and locals on their way to the Verizon Center to see Fleetwood Mac—and Jaleo was equally crowded. Other guests at the party included developer Herb Miller, White House chef Sam Kass, businessman Steve Case, WRC-4 anchor Eun Yang, lawyer Stuart Pape of Patton Boggs, Haitian ambassador Paul Altidor, and Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the InterAmerican Development Bank.
In his remarks, Mayor Gray declared April 9, 2013, Jaleo Restaurant Day.
Next up on the celebration calendar is Jaleo’s first ever Bocata Classic, a foosball tournament, which will take place at the restaurant between 1 and 2 PM April 22 through 26. Patrons can form teams, and the winners will receive a Jaleo cocktail party for 20 guests.