Local chef leads Puerto Rico recovery efforts


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

D.C. chef Jose Andres mixed cooking with philanthropy, as he helped prepare over 2.3 million meals for Puerto Rican hurrican victims.

By Anna Baranko, Online Features Editor

Most people know José Andrés for his popular D.C. restaurants, but lately he’s feeding a lot more than just DMV foodies. Now, he’s channeling his efforts towards the recent hurricane devastation.


Hurricane Maria, a category four hurricane, made landfall in Puerto Rico Sept. 20. The hurricane left many Puerto Ricans without basic necessities, such as electricity, clean drinking water, food and proper housing.


In an Observer poll of 26 students, 77 percent believe that people are not paying enough attention to the crisis occurring in Puerto Rico.


There has been a lot of controversy over whether or not the federal government has given enough aid to the island, which is a territory of the United States. President Trump was slow to comment on the crisis occurring on the island. Fortunately, José Andrés, a locally based celebrity chef, decided to step in and help out.


Andrés owns over 20 restaurants all over the country, although he’s based in Bethesda, MD. He started World Central Kitchen, a chef-run nonprofit that aims at ending world hunger.


According to World Central Kitchen’s website, “World Central Kitchen is changing the world through the eyes of a chef. As chefs, our work in the kitchen improves health, increases education rates, provides career skills, and creates food businesses.”


Andrés took his nonprofit to Puerto Rico to aid in recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. He opened 17 kitchens all across the island. In total, he has prepared over 2.3 million meals for the people there.


“I think it’s incredibly selfless how Andrés has taken initiative and actually helped many people who are unable to get food,knowing full well that it wouldn’t profit his business in the slightest,” senior Isabel Hertz-Miñoso said.


World Central Kitchen prepared more meals than any other relief organization in Puerto Rico, including the Red Cross.


According to the Observer poll, 76 percent did not personally know anyone who had contributed to relief efforts.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) typically delivers cold food and canned goods, while WCK delivered hot meals prepared by chefs and over 500 volunteers. WCK and their volunteers dubbed their relief efforts #chefsforpuertorico.


According to an October 15  Washington Post article, Andrés was concerned with who would aid the people of Puerto Rico if he didn’t. For a lot of victims, the only fresh food they were getting was what Andrés and his charity were providing.


“I don’t think many other people would have done that, so that extra step he took to help that community is admirable,” Hertz-Miñoso said.