Andrés, who has been on the ground cooking since last Monday, is churning out thousands of meals every day for people affected by Hurricane Maria. Today, he announced his plans to expand the operation.
Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and other celebrities landed at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on Monday to deliver food, bottled water and medical supplies to the hurricane-devastated island. Estafan stopped by André's operation with World Central Kitchen, where his goal is to churn out 40,000 meals a day (including six-foot-wide pans of paella.) The chef has been on the ground helping with relief efforts since last Monday, cooking tirelessly despite dwindling ingredients.
"All my career I have received a lot of affection from Puerto Rico, and I could not fail this blessed island,” Estefan said upon landing, in a transcript from Metro Puerto Rico. “Know that we are present, because we feel Puerto Ricans too, because they have given us so much," the Cuban-American singer added. Other notable figures, like Estefan’s husband, producer Emilio Estefan, former Yankees star Jorge Posada and Ricky Martin, were also among the group of stars to arrive yesterday.
"We love YOU, Jose Andrés," Estefan tweeted after meeting the chef. "Thank you for feeding so many people with your delicious food and for feeding their souls with your love!"
Although Estefan’s group did bring supplies with them, they acknowledged that a large part of this trip was to generate awareness for Puerto Rico’s humanitarian needs, which many—like Andrés—feel have been ignored by the United States government. On Tuesday afternoon, Andrés tweeted a video detailing his plan to feed Puerto Rico over the next twenty-one days, tagging the President, whom he has urged repeatedly to step up his relief efforts.
Local restaurateur Luis Rojas, who has been working with Andrés to coordinate food distribution efforts, told us that there’s been a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Puerto Rico for some time, but it has yet to dock and drop off its anticipated supplies.
“We’re Americans, and many people don’t even know it,” Rojas said.
Despite setbacks and limited resources, World Central Kitchen has showed no signs of slowing down. Tuesday morning, Andrés tweeted a sweet video from a nursing home where his team had sent 150 sandwiches. Later in the day, he served paella to 8,000 people.
In addition to the work of individuals like Andrés and Estafan, private companies like JetBlue have been launching aid efforts of their own. The company’s 100x35JetBlue campaign, the title of which is inspired by Puerto Rico’s square mileage, coordinated efforts with celebrities for this particular visit. It’s also pledged to donate $1 million over the next several months.