We love José Andrés. We love that he brought Spanish tapas to the US. We love his 26 restaurants and his one food truck. Seriously, the man has food cred. Name an honor, and he or one of his restaurants has it. Michelin stars? Yup. Bib Gourmands? Absolutely. James Beard awards? Uh-huh. But, what we really love is his humanitarianism, his fierce commitment to the people around him. In recent years, he has become an active presence in American disaster relief, driving a team of chefs to assist thousands of displaced people in accessing food.
He was one of the first responders in Haiti and in Houston, and yet again Andrés is one of the first on the ground in Puerto Rico. Along with his crew from World Central Kitchen, the chef is cooking for victims of Hurricane Maria, as well as relief workers and emergency personnel.
The category 4 storm with winds of over 150 MPH ravaged the small island, destroying 80 percent of the country’s agriculture and shutting down the power grid for the whole island. This left 3.5 million people desperate for shelter, food, water, and other necessities. As of October 3, only 295 of Puerto Rico’s 456 supermarkets were able to open , and those only prove helpful to people who can access them.
Chef Andrés arrived in San Juan September 25 and immediately went to work with local partner to coordinate volunteer efforts to serve meals. He began working with Jose Enrique at his eponymous restaurant in the Santurce district. The men (and a slew of volunteers) made copious quantities of sancocho (Puerto Rican stew) and sandwiches to deliver to six local hospitals. On September 29, they prepared 8,000 meals, bringing their total number prepared to 15,000.