Chef José Andrés to close restaurant for American eatery

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Indy Lifestyle Online

After winning the coveted title of Outstanding Chef at the James Beard Awards last week, José Andrés announced Monday that he will be temporarily shuttering the doors to one of his Washington DC restaurants to experiment with old-fashioned American cuisine.

Andrés, widely cited as Spain's culinary ambassador to the US, will be transforming his Nuevo Latin-inspired restaurant Café Atlantico into a culinary museum exhibiting  - and serving - the history of American cooking.

The pop-up style restaurant will be called America Eats Tavern and is in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives' exhibit What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?, a journey that traces the government's role in the American diet.

As "chief culinary officer" of the exhibit, Andrés will apply his trademark inventive touch to a menu that explores the country's epicurean heritage.

Though a native of Spain, Andrés also holds a place in America's culinary history. His rags-to-riches immigrant tale has been described as the ultimate American success story: he arrived in the US more than 20 years ago with little more than $50 in his pocket and a set of cooking knives. Now he's widely credited with introducing the country to a style of cooking that has since revolutionized and redefined haute cuisine: molecular gastronomy.

Instead of tuna ceviche or lamb empanadas, the new American menu will center around native and forgotten dishes like burgoo (a spicy Kentucky meat stew) and oysters Rockefeller. The restaurant will also pay homage to notable food moments in the country's history, like the first introduction to the grapefruit. The ground floor will house a casual tavern, while a more refined and elegant menu will be featured on the second and third floors.

While the restaurant hosts the special installment steps away from the National Archives building, Andrés's ThinkFoodGroup will also be scouting out the next location for Café Atlantico. When the temporary exhibit wraps up in January 2012, Andrés has alluded to a major overhaul of both Café Atlantico and his flagship restaurant minibar as he will be preparing for "the next phase."

Over the past 25 years, Café Atlantico has changed locations three times. The restaurant closes June 12 before reopening July 4 as America Eats Tavern for a six-month run. Profits will go towards the foundation.

The exhibit at the National Archives building opens June 10.