Disasters strike in this country and around the world 365 days a year. There are no holiday dispensations for natural disasters. For the victims—food, clothing, and shelter are not luxuries—they are necessities for survival.
This Thanksgiving, if you are one of the people fortunate enough to not be worrying about that next meal, if you are not living under a blue tarp, or homeless because your house has been flooded or burned out, take a moment to count your blessings, and reach out to support the many heroes who ensure that next meal for those who wouldn’t have one, without help.
One group of heroes are the chefs of World Central Kitchen, founded by Chef José Andrés, after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Many readers became aware of his work, and that of #ChefsforPuertoRico when double disasters struck Puerto Rico and the USVI—back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Andrés, an immigrant and naturalized citizen, has made news frequently, not just for feeding folks, but also for his Twitter critiques of Donald Trump.
World Central Kitchen chefs are in California, and #ChefsForCalifornia are not raking—they are cooking and baking. While you spend time with family and friends this long weekend, the work of feeding wildfire victims continues.
Tragedy has no borders.
If you have not seen this short TedTalk with Chef Andrés—take a few moments to watch it.
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, chef José Andrés traveled to the devastated island with a simple idea: to feed the hungry. Millions of meals served later, Andrés shares the remarkable story of creating the world's biggest restaurant -- and the awesome power of letting people in need know that somebody cares about them.
Maria isn’t the only U.S. hurricane that the chefs have responded to.
Hard to believe it’s been over a year since Maria, and #ChefsforPuertoRico are continuing their work on the island.
Last March, Chef José Andrés received a well-deserved “Humanitarian of the Year” award from the James Beard Foundation.
Andrés is a committed advocate of food and hunger issues and is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. In 2012, Andrés formed World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that provides smart solutions to hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. Together with World Central Kitchen, Andrés served over 3 million meals in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Andrés is named the Humanitarian honoree as the Foundation announces this year’s theme, “RISE,” which celebrates the community of chefs and industry leaders who rise to the occasion—whether to feed those in need, to stand up for what they believe in, to support their local communities, or to express their personal stories through their cooking.
“The Foundation is thrilled to name José Andrés as the 2018 Humanitarian of the Year,” said Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale. He has demonstrated how, at the most difficult times, hot-cooked meals provide more than nutrition, they provide dignity. José’s work serves as an important reminder of how precious and nourishing food can be. And we couldn’t imagine a more fitting honoree this year as we celebrate how chefs and our industry Rise.”
If you have not read his book yet, you are in for a treat. We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time:
Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. The economy was destroyed and for most people there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world.
Andrés addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. From serving sancocho with his friend José Enrique at Enrique’s ravaged restaurant in San Juan to eventually cooking 100,000 meals a day at more than a dozen kitchens across the island, Andrés and his team fed hundreds of thousands of people, including with massive paellas made to serve thousands of people alone. At the same time, they also confronted a crisis with deep roots, as well as the broken and wasteful system that helps keep some of the biggest charities and NGOs in business.
Based on Andrés’s insider’s take as well as on meetings, messages, and conversations he had while in Puerto Rico, We Fed an Island movingly describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disasters both natural and man-made, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future.
Beyond that, a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Chef Relief Network of World Central Kitchen for efforts in Puerto Rico and beyond.
He discusses the book, Puerto Rico, and Donald Trump with Trevor Noah:
Chef José Andrés describes how much it means to hurricane victims to cook them the food they enjoy and laments Donald Trump’s lack of empathy.
Back to the beginning: José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen after the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti:
When an earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, I decided to fly down to cook for people who were desperate for nourishment. It was my time to act, but I wanted to offer a sustainable solution. I created World Central Kitchen to find sustainable solutions to ending food insecurity and malnutrition. There are many people to feed and many plates to fill in a world where food should be accessible to everyone. World Central Kitchen is a catalyst of change through chef-driven programs that focus on improving health, education, and employment. Using our chef expertise, we will continue to invest in safe cooking methods, healthy school meals, and culinary training empowering communities and strengthening economies around the world, said Andrés.
To José Andrés, all the chefs, and folks who have donated to make this possible: Thank you! ¡Mil gracias!