Chef José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author and owner of ThinkFoodGroup. He is also the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that nourishes communities and strengthens economies through times of crisis and beyond.
Since its founding in 2010 after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, World Central Kitchen has since responded to disaster situations in more than 20 countries, with their ever-growing, passionate team of 60 employees and many more volunteers. Their work takes place in three crucial phases: relief, recovery, and resilience. In their resilience work, they work closely with farmers, fishers, and other producers to help build long term sustainability of food systems that have been affected by disaster – and could be again.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, World Central Kitchen created a programme called Restaurants for the People that funded restaurants to cook for essential workers and those in need. This programme provided 16 million meals and pumped USD 160 million into strained restaurant industries across the United States.
“I hope that humanity will learn to respect the earth and start to quickly understand that our resources are not unlimited.”
Chef Andrés places great importance on nutrition encouraging people to eat more vegetables and a wider variety of foods produced locally. Through World Central Kitchen, he helps small scale food producers in the Caribbean and Latin America to grow their businesses and encourages the development of local and regional interdependent food systems to reduce a heavy dependency on international supply chains.
“There are so many things that we need to pay attention to globally in the fight for food and nutrition security.”
Chef Andrés urges a shift in awareness not only around what we are eating, but also how we are cooking the food. He often highlights that three billion people around the world – mostly women – are cooking with wood in open fires that can be harmful to both personal health and the environment. A range of clean cooking alternatives promoted by Chef Andrés include switching to safer stoves, using more efficient cooking fuels and reducing potentially dangerous household air pollution.