HomeWorldWho is José Andrés? The Spanish chef behind World Central Kitchen

Who is José Andrés? The Spanish chef behind World Central Kitchen

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On Monday, a humanitarian aid convoy carrying seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) staff members was attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Knowing the risk, these seven aid workers who hailed from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Palestine, traveled to Gaza to deliver assistance to a captive civilian population that has been living under constant bombardment for more than six months. José Andrés, the Spanish chef who founded WCK with his wife in 2010, responded to the attack on social media, calling it an instance of “indiscriminate killing” by the Israeli government. Andrés also called on the government “to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.”

Humanitarian organizations ranging from the International Rescue Committee to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have echoed the messages of the Spanish chef, voicing their outrage regarding the attack on the convoy as well as the two week siege on Shifa hospital in the north of Gaza that has left the civilian population with fewer healthcare options at a time when such aid is desperately needed.

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A Palestinian man rides a bicycle past a damaged vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the NGO as the Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this “tragic” incident, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza, Strip April 2, 2024. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYAhmed ZakotREUTERS

WCK has decided to “pause” its operations in Gaza as it evaluates the safety of its staff as they attempt to provide much needed humanitarian aid. The International Court of Justice has warned that a famine is “setting in” in Gaza which could lead to a rapid increase in the death count as millions go without food.

All of these stark warnings come as Israel prepares for an invasion into Rafah where over a million displaced Gazans have sought refuge. “This attack has caused WCK to pause its lifesaving activities in Gaza,” write MFS on X, highlighting the additional challenges the IDF’s strike creates for humanitarian organizations still operating in the territory.

World Central Kitchen and José Andrés: A brief history

Born in Asturias, Spain in 1969, José Andrés rose to fame in the United States in the mid-2000s, after the success of his first restaurant ‘minibar’ in Washington DC.

All of José Andrés’ restaurants in the United States

  • minibar by José Andrés – Washington, D.C.
  • é by José Andrés – Las Vegas 
  • The Bazaar by José Andrés – Miami Beach, Washington, D.C., and New York City
  • Bazaar Meat by José Andrés – Las Vegas, Chicago, and Los Angeles (opening in 2024)
  • Agua Viva – Los Angeles 
  • Airlight – Los Angeles 
  • Bar Mar by José Andrés – Chicago
  • barmini by José Andrés – Washington, D.C.
  • Beefsteak – Washington, D.C.
  • The Beaudry Room – Los Angeles
  • Butterfly Tacos y Tortas — Washington, DC
  • Café by the River – Chicago
  • China Chilcano by José Andrés – Washington, DC
  • China Poblano by José Andrés – Las Vegas
  • Fish by José Andrés – Paradise Island, Bahamas
  • Jaleo by José Andrés – Washington, D.C., Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Dubai
  • Mercado Little Spain – New York City
  • Nubeluz – New York City
  • Oyamel – Washington, D.C.
  • Pepe – Washington, D.C. (food truck) and Orlando
  • Pigtail by José Andrés – Chicago
  • San Laurel – Downtown Los Angeles
  • SED by José Andrés – Los Angeles
  • Spanish Diner – Bethesda, Maryland
  • Zaytinya – Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and New York City 

José Andrés started WCK in 2010, after a massive earthquake struck Haiti, creating an enormous need for humanitarian support to enter the country. The organization has provided aid after major disasters in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda, The Bahamas, Cambodia, Ukraine, the United States, Turkey, Syria, and Palestine. WCK’s objective is not to be a long term provider of aid, and instead is nimble in its approach, entering disaster zones to provide much needed aid just as catastrophic events are unfolding. Instead of offering standard aid meals, WCK aims to incorporate local customs into the food they offer, by “listening, learning, and cooking side by side with the people impacted by the crisis.

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