Food for Thought: Chef Andrés brings his talents to Puerto Rico


Chef Andrés serves his millionth meal in Puerto Rico. Graphic courtesy of Genius Kitchen

After Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, killing at least 499 people and destroying homes all over Puerto Rico, José Andrés, a Spanish native, was disappointed with the lack of economic and emotional support the U.S. offered to Puerto Rico’s relief and recovery. Andrés took the matter into his own hands, landing in Puerto Rico just a few days after the storm hit in September.

Within weeks, he constructed a team of volunteer chefs and served over 100,000 meals per day to hungry civilians. Andrés and his team focused on cooking foods that were high in protein and fats, such as eggs, chicken, and avocados.

Andrés continues to serve meals from a parking lot in San Juan and encourages people to do what they can to help as well. In his interview with 60 minutes, Andrés says, “Chefs of America, we should be more outspoken about the way we are feeding America, not only about what I am feeding them in my restaurant or in the great restaurants of America,” he said, “It’s only one, two, or three percent of the Americans that eat in those restaurants. We should be more committed about the other 97 percent of Americans that don’t come to our restaurants. That should be what I hope one day, it will be my little contribution.”

José Andrés, a world-renowned chef, author, philanthropist, restaurant owner, and one of TIMES’ “100 Most Influential People”  is known for the Spanish flair he brings to his culinary innovations. Andrés now owns 30 of his own restaurants and continues to help with world hunger relief across the world. He has made it his mission to serve food in places suffering from starvation as well as teach people in undeveloped countries safer methods to cook their own food.

In recent years, José Andrés has been entangled in political disputes with the president and his family. The bad blood began in the summer of 2015 after Andrés heard antagonistic comments Donald Trump made about Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign. In condemnation of Trump’s remarks, Andrés canceled his plans to open a new restaurant in the Washington D.C. Trump International Hotel. Donald Trump responded with a lawsuit, seeking $10 million for breach of contract. After Andrés countersued for $8 million and the pair endured two years of litigation, the lawsuit was finally settled. Details about the settlement were not disclosed. However, ThinkFood Group and the Trump Organization issued a joint statement claiming, “[they were] glad…to put this matter behind [them] and move forward as friends.”

José Andrés is now a dedicated member of ‘World Central Kitchen,’ an organization that provides effective solutions to end world hunger. As Andrés says, “World Central Kitchen is gonna try to be the catalyst of change in the lives of people through the power of food.”