The chef is on the ground supporting residents in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.

By Bridget Hallinan
September 05, 2019
YASMIN RIGBY/Getty Images

Over the past several years, chef José Andrés and his non-profit, World Central Kitchen, have been working to feed people in times of crisis. They were on the ground in Southern California this summer preparing meals for residents and first responders in the wake of earthquakes; when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Andrés famously prepared giant vats of paella that served 5,000 people, reaching one million meals in October 2017. Now, he and WCK are in the Bahamas, operating relief kitchens in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm on record to hit the islands. The damage was described as “apocalyptic,” per the Associated Press, with seven deaths reported so far and more expected; the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama were among the hardest hit, enduring winds up to 185 miles per hour. The hurricane made landfall over the weekend, and Andrés was already on his way August 31, tweeting that he and WCK were en route to Nassau.

Since then, both he and the World Central Kitchen account have been providing updates on the relief efforts. On September 1, WCK posted on its website, saying that Andrés and WCK Relief Team members were still stationed in Nassau—south of where the hurricane is centered—ready to begin cooking as soon as the storm had passed and they could safely reach Great Abaco and Grand Bahama. Andrés also tweeted out a map that WCK had prepared to organize their response in the Bahamas, marking relief kitchens and shelters. “If then kitchens are destroyed, we build one and cook in big paella pans,” he wrote.

On September 2, Anderson Cooper posted a live video conversation he’d had with Andrés, who said that they were preparing a boat to fill up with food and equipment—he also gave a shoutout to Atlantis Paradise Island, which has been supporting WCK and volunteers who have joined in on the relief effort. On the whole, he hopes to serve at least 10,000 meals to Abaco residents, according to CNN—when he was finally able to leave Nassau and travel to the Abaco Islands on Tuesday via helicopter, he flew over 2,000 sandwiches and “more than 1,000 oranges.” In a video posted that same day, he explained that WCK is setting up a relief kitchen in Marsh Harbor, a town in the Abaco islands, and that there are a lot of hungry people—on Wednesday, he followed up from a helicopter and reported he was on his way to Abaco once more to deliver “close to 2,000 sandwiches and 3,000 hot meals," as well as water. He expects to take three helicopter flights back and forth, delivering food and visiting the local hospital and WCK relief kitchen.

“I think we’re going to be here for quite some weeks,” he said in conversation with Cooper.

Atlantis Paradise Island has teamed up with WCK and the Bahamas Red Cross to help provide food and supplies to affected residents, setting up a GoFundMe to gather donations. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Bahamas Red Cross to help with hurricane recovery efforts, according to the GoFundMe page—at the time this story was written, over $55,000 had already been raised toward the $1,000,000 goal. You can also text “FOOD” to 80100 to donate $10 to WCK, per the Twitter page.

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