Chef Andrés to the rescue
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
If there’s one thing you can count on during the coronavirus crisis, it is the unwavering benevolence of Chef José Andrés. The celebrity chef and restaurateur has temporarily closed his network of nearly a dozen restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area, repurposing six of them to serve as community kitchens to help feed people in need.
This action is nothing new for the energetic 51-year-old Spanish-American chef and founder of World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.
Andrés created WCK in 2010 to help feed people in Haiti following a devastating earthquake. Every year since, the nonprofit has served meals to help ease the effects of disasters in Nicaragua, Uganda, Zambia, Peru and other countries.
He emerged as the NGO hero of disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017 — serving more than 2 million meals in the first month after the hurricane. He returned to the island once again to set up his kitchens in the wake of a major earthquake in 2019. The James Beard Foundation named Andrés the 2018 Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts in Puerto Rico.
When the Grand Princess, the cruise ship stricken by the coronavirus, docked at the Port of Oakland on March 9, the WCK was waiting dockside with meals. More than 3,500 meals were prepared and packaged by its commercial kitchen in San Francisco for passengers and crew members. Two weeks prior, the nonprofit had worked with Princess in Japan to feed passengers of the Diamond Princess when that vessel was held under coronavirus quarantine at Yokohama.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic here in the U.S., deeply discounted meals will be offered for takeout from noon to 5:00 p.m. daily from the side doors at Andrés’ Penn Quarter restaurants in Washington, D.C. — Zaytinya, China Chilcano and Oyamel — as well as at all Jaleo locations (Penn Quarter; Bethesda, Maryland; and Crystal City, Virginia). They’ll also be available from the front door at America Eats Tavern in Georgetown.
All locations have employed options for no-contact ordering and payment using Paypal and GoTab; the latter allows customers to view menus, order, and pay by scanning a QR code with their phones. WCK is considering a plan to scale the community kitchen project across the country as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
“We are in a serious global emergency and people need to take every precaution, including staying home as much as possible,” said Andrés. “However, we also want to help provide food for those who need it in a safe manner, so we feel these community kitchens can help during this challenging time. And those who cannot afford to pay we will welcome as well.”
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