Chef whose organization prepared over 35,000 meals during the Thomas Fire wins humanitarian award

Chef Jose Andres in Ventura

blog by Fiorella Calderoni

Throughout December, World Central Kitchen was filled with dedicated volunteers eager to do their part to thank first responders and help those affected by the Thomas Fire. Together, they prepared and delivered over 35,000 meals. World Central Kitchen’s experience with humanitarian work was crucial for organizing a coordinated effort. The 2018 James Beard Humanitarian Award for World Central Kitchen’s founder, Chef José Andrés, is a well-deserved honor for someone who has made a difference in Ventura and around the world.

Chef Andrés founded World Central Kitchen in 2010 in response to the earthquake in Haiti. Since then, the organization has helped feed first responders and victims after disasters in Houston, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. Following Hurricane Maria, World Central Kitchen has helped prepare and deliver over 3.3 million meals through 23 kitchens servicing 78 municipalities.

During the Thomas Fire, World Central Kitchen set up a kitchen at San Buenaventura Mission in downtown Ventura led by Ventura County chefs Jason Collis, of Plated Events, and Tim Kilcoyne, of Scratch Sandwich Counter, with an assist from Robert Egger of L.A. Kitchen, a community kitchen and culinary arts job-training program. Meals were prepared, packaged and delivered by hundreds of community volunteers.

Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation describes Chef Andrés as “a committed advocate of food and hunger issues … known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy.”

“José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale. He has demonstrated how, at the most difficult times, hot-cooked meals provide more than nutrition. They provide dignity,” he added.

“I am honored to be receiving and sharing this award with my team at World Central Kitchen, #ChefsforPuertoRico, #ChefsforCalifornia, good friends like Robert Egger and L.A. Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen and all of the incredible people I have been fortunate to meet over the years through the simple act of cooking a hot meal. Whether it’s teaching and preparing a meal alongside people who have just started a new chapter, empowering communities through clean cookstoves, or cooking meals for people who have experienced unimaginable devastation, I’ve learned that food is powerful. It nourishes, but it also has the power to be an agent of hope and change.”

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