Chef José Andrés
On this World Day for Cultural Diversity, we honor Chef José Andrés who is often credited with bringing the sharing plate dining concept to the US, but is making an equally big impact outside the restaurant kitchen.
José Andrés has stepped in where governments have failed. He is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit NGO devoted to providing meals to the hungry in the wake of natural disasters.
It all started on 12 January 2010, when Haiti was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake. José Andrés arrived with the first responders to feed those caught in the chaos. He then collaborated with local chefs to galvanize solutions to feed the hungry.
This has been his relief model ever since: arrive, feed, organize, and pass the effort on to those on the ground.
Since its founding, World Central Kitchen has saved the lives in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda, and Cambodia. Most famously, it emerged as a leader of disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Maria in 2017. When the Trump administration balked, José and his team “just started cooking.” They organized a grass-roots movement of chefs and volunteers to establish communications, food supplies, and other resources to get meals to the starving people.
José Andrés and World Central Kitchen served more than 2M meals the first month after Maria. Yet, when it applied for long-term funding from the US to remain in Puerto Rico, its was denied.
In January 2019, when Trump shut the US government down in a bid to force $5.7B out of Congress for a border wall with Mexico (to limit diversity) Andrés opened a WCK in front of the White House to feed furloughed federal workers who couldn't afford to eat.
For his efforts in Puerto Rico, Andrés was named the 2018 Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. He also received a 2015 National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama, another great advocate for cultural diversity, dialogue, and exchange.