How a Team of Chefs Fed Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria by José Andrés

If you need a little reminder of just how powerful the human spirit is, look no further than this amazing TEDx Talk from chef José Andrés. In it, he talks about how he and a team of cooks, restaurateurs, and volunteers worked together to feed the storm-ravaged island of Puerto Rico when government officials turned a blind eye. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and felt my spirit lift with this story of community and resilience.

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By Ana Sofía Peláez
MIAMI — After Hurricane Maria devastated and virtually paralyzed Puerto Rico in September 2017, local and federal officials were having trouble getting to entire towns and cities that had been plunged into darkness and cut off from highways and communication. Yet the restaurateur and celebrity chef José Andrés went to the island, organized 19,000 volunteers in 25 makeshift kitchens and served over 3.5 million meals through one of the hardest years in the island’s history.

Andrés tells that story in “We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time,” a book released by the late Anthony Bourdain’s Ecco imprint last fall. While the book focuses on Puerto Rico, it’s also a blueprint for how relief organizations can respond to both human-made and natural disasters.

“We cover blind spots. We bring leadership where sometimes leadership is totally gone,” Andrés told NBC News last week at the renowned South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami. At the star-studded event, he gathered many of the island’s chefs who worked with him after the hurricane, cooking up traditional dishes such as roast pork and boosting the U.S. territory he’s come to know so well.

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