Activist Chefs Remind Us That A Meal is a Gesture of Inclusion in Times of Need
José Andrés, award-winning Michelin star chef, respected author and founder of the non-profit chef organization, World Central Kitchen, has been nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts providing hot meals on a grand scale in the wake of natural disasters. He is the first chef to be nominated for this prestigious award which will be announced in early October.
I have long admired Chef Andrés; the popularity of his small plate tapas bar Jaleo in DC changed the way we dine, his passion for the food of his homeland brought Spanish cuisine to the forefront and he has launched too many award-winning restaurant concepts to even remember. This is a chef who brings gusto and sheer joy to everything he does.
When a devastating hurricane hit Puerto Rico, José Andrés quickly galvanized a monumental effort through his volunteer chef network, World Central Kitchen. His organization served over 3 million meals in Puerto Rico. And not just rations to feed hungry people; his volunteers prepared home cooked meals — the kind of comforting meals people need in the middle of a natural disaster.
If José Andrés is the face of chef activism, he is in good company. Food for Soul, founded by acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura to raise awareness of food waste, empowers local communities to transform food surplus into a valuable commodity. Celebrity chef Roy Choi, of food truck Kogi BBQ fame, explores food-activism in his new TV series ‘Broken Bread’ which premiered this Spring. Chef Marcus Samuelsson works through UNICEF to curb child malnutrition throughout the world. I could go on and on; so many chefs have stepped up to make a difference through food.
Chef-Activism was named one of Food & Wine magazines top trends for 2019. “With chef José Andrés nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, it shows the capability our industry has to improve the lives in the communities we serve.”
Through his unrelenting efforts in the face of so many obstacles, José Andrés built a network of 19,000 volunteer cooks in Puerto Rico. To quote Andrés, “We saw the problem, what would happen if we did not act and what we could do if we did.”
He makes it all seem so simple; his efforts made a difference during the disaster and continue to make a difference through his World Central Kitchen chef programs. And while he likes to simply refer to himself as a cook, to chefs worldwide he is an inspiration and a motivator to always do more.
You can get involved and make donations, at https://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/
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