Chef José Andrés can usually be found at the coal face of international emergencies with his World Central Kitchen helping to feed people when they need it most. Whether in Puerto Rico, The Bahamas or Downunder, his team are strategically located on the front line nourishing those left uprooted or bereft by natural disaster.
This week the humanitarian chef is applying that same food relief, only much closer to home. As a state of emergency is declared in the US and restaurants shutter in response to the coronavirus pandemic he is transforming seven of his New York City and Washington, DC restaurants into community kitchens to feed those in need.
A post on his Facebook page reads;
"People of America...Important News: All my restaurants in DC area and soon others are closed until further notice. Here at ThinkFoodGroup safety of employees & guests is top priority. Some restaurants will transform into Community Kitchens to offer to-go lunches for those who need a meal."
"These Community Kitchens will be part of World Central Kitchen efforts across the country in the coming days & weeks. Not for enjoyment....but a service for people in need of a plate of food during this emergency."
“We are in a serious global emergency and people need to take every precaution, including staying home as much as possible. However, we also want to help provide food for those who want it in a safe manner, so we feel these community kitchens can help during this challenging time."
The takeout meals will cost $7 (to cover costs and keep people employed) although those who cannot afford to pay we will welcome as well.” Andres goes on to say in a statement. Guests can also donate a meal to someone else who might need it.
In New York, The Little Spain community kitchen will operate out of the restaurants’ glass garage doors with a limited number of volunteers from 12 – 4 pm daily beginning Tuesday, March 17, offering only takeout service.
Andres also commits to all restaurant employees being provided with paid leave and current health benefits for at least the first two weeks.
Community Kitchens in Operation in New York and Washington DC:
New York City
- Mercado Little Spain, Hudson Yards, New York: Little Spain’s Spanish Diner will operate a community kitchen from the glass garage doors. The rest of the mercado will remain closed.
Washington DC Metropolitan Area
- America Eats Tavern, Georgetown: A community kitchen will operate from the front door
- Jaleo, Bethesda: A community kitchen will operate from the side door.
- Jaleo, Crystal City: A community kitchen will operate from the side door.
- Jaleo, Penn Quarter: A community kitchen will operate from the side door.
- Oyamel, Penn Quarter: A community kitchen will operate from the side door.
- Zaytinya, Penn Quarter: A community kitchen will operate from the side door.