In what is a truly inspirational story of less talk and more action, chef José Andrés has taken to the TED stage to explain just what it took for he and his World Central Kitchen nonprofit to produce over two million meals for hungry Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria earlier this autumn.
Greeted by scenes of utter devastation on his arrival, with 95% of electricity gone, Andres rallied chefs on the island straight away with a cry of “Let’s start cooking,” while others were still talking about what needed to be done. Starting with the hospitals, volunteers began “making food that people could recognise, not things from a far away place in plastic bags that you open and you can’t even smell” – food that made people feel at home.
The numbers are startling: 7000 volunteers, 18 kitchens, multiple food trucks ... at one point these heroes were serving close to 70,000 meals a day from one location alone. They've also extended their relief efforts to nearby islands.
As Andrés says, there was no real planning involved, they just got on and did it, propelled by the desire to help using the best tools they had – their ability to cook: "I love to feed the few, but even more I love to feed the many," he says.