October 23, 2020

Jos Andrs: “We are facing a crisis of biblical proportions” – La Provincia


“I have never lost so much money and I have never worked so much.” It’s the first thing he says Jose Andres on the phone from Washington. It is not a lament: simply, a way to start the talk without sweeteners, with the harshness that the situation deserves. During the talk, the cook expresses his desire to fly to Spain immediately: “I have asked for permission.” Its NGO, World Central Kitchen, is already operating in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, specifically, from Terrassa, with chef Carles Tejedor in front. Other groups such as Health Warriors, Food for Good BCN, Gastrofira, Comer Contigo or Food 4 Heroes have set the fire to help those in need.

World Central Kitchen was born in 2010 and its mission is to act in emergencies, in hurricanes, in earthquakes. An epidemic is something else: “It goes from less to more, it increases. There is nothing destroyed, it is not a war. We are facing a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions. “

Later, from Terrassa and after having sent 1,600 meals to a house and a service for immigrants and refugees In Barcelona, ​​commissioned by the Banc dels Aliments, Tejedor will say something similar: “As mobility is prohibited, it is very difficult for volunteers. Many people want to collaborate but you have to see how. Problems with the product, with the packaging, with the labelled”. Starting on Monday, it will have trays with the capacity for a “single or combined plate that can meet the needs”, which would allow reaching 2,000 meals a day. For example, “Cuban-style rice and brisket, carbonara pasta and pork tenderloin, quinoa and lamb, paella and whiting.” Carles uses the resources and facilities of the Valors Food catering and has in mind to light another flame in Barcelona: “Ideally, the Generalitat should offer us the kitchens of a school.”

In the US, we are giving about 120,000 meals a day in about 25 cities“, José Andrés counts, and another 30,000 in areas where they worked before the viral scourge, such as Bahamas, Venezuela or Colombia. Although he is about to redouble efforts: “In two or three months we could be at 250,000 meals a day. In two or three years, we have distributed about 14 million.” Figures are a measure of need. And without public contributions: the money comes from own resources or from private donations. It has the complicity and commitment of people like Leonardo DiCaprio or Laurene Powell, businesswoman and widow of Steve Jobs. José hopes that the federal government will help, at some point, with the expenses. “But we are practical and We cannot wait for those funds to arrive. This will cost a lot of money. We will see how it is paid

Andrés wonders why he did not act befores: “We started in Yokohama, in Japan.” They attended the passage of a cruise ship. Later they also attended to the travelers of another ship, this one in Oakland, California. “I was following the ‘crown’ from Wuhan and my head had already been spinning that.” When he started in Washington they had bought “thousands of masks”, which they delivered to hospitals. “It’s kind of weird for cooks to wear masks to hospitals.” Talk about a failed UN and demand true leaders: “Leadership and quick action are more important than good speech.”

He welcomes the fact that there are organizations with chefs willing to put on gloves and masks, but the dispersion could be sterile: “You have to organize well, you have to have logicdonations must be centralized so that they are not lost. “It is not just about goodwill, but also about efficiency.

He goes to the military similes, current in these trench days: “The hand-to-hand battle is in hospitals, but the guerrillas are in every neighborhood, on every street, in every building.” And he summarizes his work with the gospel, less overwhelming than the biblical plague at the beginning: “Give food to the hungry and give sight to the thirsty. This is what we cooks do. It’s easy to understand, isn’t it?

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