Courtesy of World Central Kitchen

Andrés' book, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, comes out in September. 

Maria Yagoda
Updated August 30, 2018

Almost a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, José Andrés is offering the world a closer look at the grim realities of relief efforts and how he managed to mobilize World Central Kitchen to feed over 3 million meals with the help of 20,000 volunteers. His forthcoming bookWe Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, comes out on September 11, and it will be published by Anthony Bourdain's Ecco imprintLin-Manuel Miranda wrote the forward. 

In a new profile in the Wall Street Journal, the Jaleo chef opens up about his activism, which extends far beyond Puerto Rico; most recently, the activist-chef has been helping out in Southern Guatemala, where the Fuego volcano eruption has wreaked havoc on local communities. He was there when he learned that Anthony Bourdain was found dead, telling the WSJ he was "devastated" and even more motivated to keep working. "The only thing I wanted to be doing was going to where it was hard to be,” he said. “I felt so useful there.”

The chef admits that he's become a different person since Hurricane Maria, even though he's been leading relief efforts for years, from Haiti to California. 

“I’m still trying to understand how all of this has changed me,” Andrés told the WSJ. “It’s changed me. I mean, are you going to see me in every hurricane in the years to come? Yeah, I have a feeling you will.”

As for how he finds the time to manage a global restaurant empire, rush towards disasters, and write a book, no one is entirely sure. But Andrés is showing no signs of slowing down

“As a chef, he’s huge,” said Tom Colicchio, also an advisor at World Central Kictchen, in the WSJ article. “But what José is doing is part of being a chef. You look to take care of people with food, whether they’re seeking pleasure in a restaurant or literally need to be fed because they are starving.” 

We Fed an Island, which hits shelves on September 11, will offer an uplifting message. 

“We want to tell the inside story of what we saw on the ground—the good and the bad—of the crisis, the response, and how a plate of food does more than just fill you up," Andrés said in the statement announcing his project. "It fills you with hope.” 

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