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We Fed an Island

Summary

The true story of how a group of chefs fed hundreds of thousands of hungry Americans after Hurricane Maria and touched the hearts of many more.

THINK Review

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, chef José Andrés and the groups he founded, World Central Kitchen and Chefs for Puerto Rico, took action.

“We began serving hospitals because the doctors and the nurses — nobody was feeding them,” Andrés says of the initial effort.

But then team received calls from places that were hours away from San Juan. Andrés says the message was clear: “The island is hungry. With one restaurant alone, we have not enough.”

To answer this demand, Andrés and his group expanded their operation, commandeering kitchens from restaurants, schools and even a basketball stadium. At one point, they had 18 kitchens functioning at the same time, serving over 150,000 meals a day.”

Andrés received the James Beard Award for outstanding chef of the year in 2011; this year, he was named the James Beard Humanitarian of the year for his work in Puerto Rico. His new memoir is We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time.

This inspiring story from Michelin-starred chef Andrés and his frequent cookbook coauthor Wolffe (Made in Spain) provides an antidote to passivity and cynicism. Having done food relief work in Haiti in 2010, Andrés was ready to help feed the people of Puerto Rico after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria seven year later. Andrés tells how his nonprofit organization thrived despite the fumbling incompetence of government agencies and nonprofits.”

In a matter of days, Andrés and his volunteers had expanded an operation run by his friend Jose Enrique, a San Juan chef, making sandwiches, paellas, and stew (Andres has contempt for the idea that disaster victims deserve only lousy food). In between fighting with red tape–tangled FEMA officials and dealing with the Red Cross’s lack of organization, Andres quickly scaled up an operation with 20,000 volunteers that produced three million meals. “We solved the problems as they popped up,” Andrés writes, “as chefs do.” This is a powerful story of the impact a well-meaning group can have on the world.

José Andrés will join us at THINK 19. Early-bird discounts apply through October 31. Interested attendees are encouraged to register now, while early-bird discount pricing is still in play. Rates go up on November 1 and will continue to increase in the months leading up to the conference. Special discounts are also currently available for groups of four or more attendees. Visit the THINK site to learn more. Or better: Register now!

Buy the book at Amazon.com

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