Chef José Andrés Doing What the President Can’t: Actually Caring for Everyday Americans

The pop-up kitchen runs on donations and volunteer workers, many of whom are directly affected by the shutdown.

Jose Andres Paella BeLatina

Chef José Andrés has served over 40,000 meals to federal workers, government contractors, and their families since opening up an outpost of World Central Kitchen in Washington D.C. last Wednesday. The pop-up kitchen runs on donations and volunteer workers, many of whom are directly affected by the shutdown. “As a furloughed employee, I’ve lost a piece of myself,” said one volunteer on social media. “Being here has given me a purpose and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve those in need.”

On its opening day, the World Central Kitchen in Washington dished out over 4,400 hot meals, doubling their initial projections of service for #ChefsForFeds. Each day’s menu is posted on social media the night before @wckitchen, announcing the delicious and healthy meals that people can expect to eat on the premises or take home to their own kitchens. Designed by chefs who are dedicating their skillset, these meals are made with lots of love: Monday’s menu in DC included a vegetarian curry stew; a grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and a ginger aioli; and a gluten-free and vegan bowl of ancient grains, veggies, and Thai peanut sauce.

“We will be there every day until this shutdown ends! Members of Congress @gop @TheDemocrats, I invite you to come to our kitchen and meet/serve those affected by this national emergency!” the Spanish-American chef announced on social media, encouraging elected officials to come to the communal gathering as a way to connect during a divisive political period. “I hope it will be a call to action to our senators and congressmen and especially President Trump to make sure we end this moment in the history of America where families are about to go hungry,” he said in a video promoting his #ChefForFeds endeavor.

Putting Food on the Table During National Emergencies  

Chef Andrés is telling it like it is: this is a national emergency. You can help World Central Kitchen by donating funds to both their short-term and longer-term work through their website. Vendors can donate fresh produce and other food items to keep their kitchens stock. The organization is also looking to expand its #ChefsForFeds service to other locations across the country and is asking for commercial and non-profit spaces to donate their kitchens toward the effort.

Jose Andres Paradise Fires BeLatina
Photo Credit Rob Larman, Paradise Fire

This is not the first time Chef Andrés has parlayed his skills and influence to provide for citizens during a national emergency. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the chef set up operations across the island to feed aid workers and members of communities affected by the disaster, serving over 150,000 meals a day at its peak. Following his experience in Puerto Rico, he penned his memoir, “We Fed an Island.” In the book, he explained how restaurant workers can be vital resources in times of disaster, adept at managing chaos. “[What] we are very good at is understanding the problem and adapting. And so a problem becomes an opportunity.”