Celebrity chef Jose Andres is lending a hand to Puerto Rico -- the U.S. territory that was devistatingly ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September.
Andres, owner of Bazaar and Bazaar Mar in Miami, has spent weeks on the island – and has formulated his own recipe for recovery, starting one plate at a time.
“I don’t think anybody was prepared for what came,” Andres said. “I saw what was happening and I began feeding hospitals, we began getting phone calls.”
What started with one kitchen and a group of chefs in Puerto Rico just days after the storm would turn into 21 kitchens, thousands of volunteers and 3.3 million meals.
Areas Andres and his nonprofit have served:
But Andres says they need our help. He described the workers with FEMA as amazing and never looking at the clock – but wishes the red tape wasn’t so complicated.
“If we call it FEMA, that means emergency in terms of food and water,” he said. “You cannot be looking at contracts - a contract that it’s going to be for two or three weeks from now means that you are going to be leaving people hungry for weeks and that is unacceptable.”
Andres says he’s seen this before – slow responses during other natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.
In the meantime, he and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen will continue their work for a few more months, give grants to food trucks and help small farmers.
“Food is complicated and we were able to do a lot with almost nothing,” he said.