After Hurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico, a renowned chef and an army of volunteers raced to feed the islanders when others could not.
Chef, humanitarian, and founder and chairman of World Central Kitchen, Andrés (Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen, 2008, etc.) arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Maria flattened the island to find Puerto Ricans struggling to live without food, clean water, electricity, and a host of other services and conditions. He set out to help the one way he knew how: feeding everyone he possibly could. What started out as a temporary situation lasted for weeks and cost millions of dollars as Andrés and his huge crew of volunteers, working in a coordinated network of kitchens, cranked out vast vats full of chicken and rice and thousands of ham and cheese sandwiches on a daily basis. In this inspirational story of humanitarian aid, co-authored by previous collaborator Wolffe (The Message: The Reselling of President Obama, 2013, etc.), Andrés openly shares his frustration and disappointment with FEMA, Donald Trump, numerous agencies in the U.S. government, and even widely recognized aid groups such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. Over and over, the author was met with bureaucratic red tape that delayed funding for food products; eventually, he used his own money to purchase supplies. Andrés knew that the most important issue was getting nutritious and tasty food (rather than the military’s ready-to-eat meals, which are barely edible) and water to those in need. Throughout the book, the author’s passion to help people is palpable, as is the sense of hope that helped him achieve an almost impossible goal. His actions should be the basis for future work by FEMA and other humanitarian agencies: Provide good food and water to those in need and worry about the money much later.
A passionate and courageous story that should be required reading for anyone involved in disaster response.