DC-based celebrity chef José Andrés started a new initiative as part of his relief efforts, this time for the Lebanese capital, Beirut, which was hit by a huge explosion that devastated its port area on August 4.
World Central Kitchen (WCK), a non-profit owned and run by Andrés, dispatched a team to the city, where at least 200 people died, more than 6,000 were injured, and hundreds were displaced.
“WCK is on the ground in Beirut after the devastating explosion. Much of the city is covered in broken glass & thousands of volunteers are in the streets helping to clean. We’ll be working alongside @kamalmouzawak to prepare nourishing meals in the morning & expanding from there,” WCK tweeted on August 7.
Behind the scenes of @WCKitchen operation at @Tawlet with my friend @kamalmouzawak! It’s more than a restaurant…it’s a place where food is an excuse to sit in a table and meet people! So meet these volunteers giving what they have to help others… #ChefsForBeirut pic.twitter.com/cIcfZAv4rp
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) August 12, 2020
Sam Bloch, Director of Field Operations at the non-profit, headed to Beirut with the team, which is cooperating with Kamal Mouzawak, a Lebanon-based chef.
WCK announced in a tweet that its volunteers prepared their first 800 fresh meals for those in need upon their arrival. “These meals are heading out the door to a local hospital, seniors sheltering in place, and first responders. We will share more soon! #ChefsForBeirut,” the tweet said.
Joining the team on Wednesday, Andrés also shared a video showing the operation of WCK in Beirut.
Founded by Andrés in 2010, WCK is known for distributing free meals in natural disaster areas.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the DC area in March, Andrés temporarily closed all of his restaurants in the region and turned some of them into community kitchens (operating as part of WCK) for those in need. WCK provided more than 500,000 free meals since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser recently selected Andrés along with another restaurateur, Andy Shallal, for a committee that is tasked with planning how to reopen the District of Columbia as it recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Andrés’ team traveled to Japan in February to provide food to the people who were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to the virus-related disease.
In September 2019, the Spanish-American chef provided more than 100,000 free meals for Bahamians, who survived the Hurricane Dorian, as well as residents of the Carolinas and Florida.
He also opened a kitchen in DC to serve cooked meals free of charge for federal workers and their families during the government shutdown in January 2019.
In January, Andrés helped victims of two earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico.