TODAY

TODAY   |  December 06, 2013

Chef Jose Andres becomes an American citizen

The celebrated chef now shares his citizenship with his three American-born daughters, and says that despite backing causes for immigration reform, he is an entrepreneur and  not an activist.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> special moment in the life of one of our favorite chefs. nbc's kelly o'donnell has that story for us. kelly, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. well he served presidents and politicians in his restaurant here in the nation's capitol but this isn't about his famous food or cook books or tv shows . this is really about chef jose andreas being able to call this place home.

>> let's start moving.

>> reporter: chef jose andreas has good reason to celebrate. he won the nation's top culinary prizes. he runs a growing restaurant empire from his washington d.c. headquaters complete with this kitchen that create dishes that will define his famous hotspots. 16 restaurants from d.c. to l.a., miami to vegas and more.

>> for me the most important is to say people of america, this is american cooking too.

>> reporter: oh, that reason to celebrate, born in spain and living in the u.s. for 23 years, andreas and his wife patricia have just become american citizens.

>> this is my hang out.

>> two weeks ago i became american citizen .

>> congratulations.

>> he now shares the same citizenship as their three american born daughters.

>> the least i could do for my daughters was your daddy is like you now.

>> reporter: given his american-made success, first families have dined at his restaurants, he helped out in haiti with president clinton . as a new citizens, andreas is taking on a cause backing immigration reform that would grant legal status to undocumented workers .

>> this is a country of faith and faith tells me we have to be taking care of those that didn't get the same chances we got.

>> between four and six restaurants.

>> reporter: calling himself an entrepreneur and not an activist, he says his success is an example of what immigrants can contribute.

>> i know i'm the perfect poster boy .

>> reporter: the restaurant industry is on the front line. the reality is many hire workers here illegally and buy produce picked by undocumented workers .

>> any risk to your business that by being so politically involved you might turn people off?

>> i don't think i have any issue being active.

>> reporter: for his next new restaurant, andreas is researching america's earliest colonial recipes and comfort foods to design a new menu.

>> what is this to you?

>> it looks like a great old campfire s'more with an elegant twist.

>> reporter: making s'mores.

>> yeah.

>> you went directly into it.

>> reporter: and mac and cheese inspired by a 200-year-old virginia recipe.

>> i'm in this moment where all the dreams can become possibilities.

>> reporter: with so much on his own plate, jose andreas hopes the success of his food and his business will add his now american voice to the immigration debate .

>> when he says he knows he's a poster boy , he's talking about the fact that as an immigrant he has been wildly successful and people like to point to that. he also said he would love to invite speaker boehner to dine at one of his restaurants and food is a way to get to people's hearts and souls and maybe he can change minds when it comes to immigration. with food as his first love and it's easy to see why with the way he creates such interesting dishes and made quite a splash. matt and savannah.

>> thank you. jose andreas . chef and american.