A few weeks ago, some ex–New York Times critic started up a conversation about chefs cooking outside their own ethnicity, specifically an Irish dude at Tertulia cooking spot-on Spanish food. So, over at the James Beard Leadership Awards last night, we asked the "pope of Spanish food" himself (his words, jokingly), José Andrés, whether a guy with the last name Mullen could indeed pull off the paella: "I would tell you 'no, no way,' and that 'an Irish' can't cook, and that would make the news on the web-sphere for 24 hours! But if you know what I do in life — I have a great Turkish, Lebanese, Mexican, Chinese, avant-garde, Spanish, and now an American restaurant — you would know that my answer is obviously baloney. Actually, I think a foreigner sometimes has a true sensitivity to what others can't see; I always loved how Hemingway was able to see through his lens what the Spaniards were not able to. And that's how it might be with Seamus Mullen."
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