How Chef José Andrés Delivered Meals—and Hope—to Puerto Rico

Social Justice

One year after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, we look back at the story of the chefs who took action.

When Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, Chef José Andrés and his team did not hesitate to act. They responded to the disaster the best way they knew how: through food.

In the face of daunting bureaucratic and logistical obstacles, Andrés and his team partnered with the people of Puerto Rico to upend traditional methods of disaster relief. Instead of shipping food from the mainland, a costly and chaotic convention, they worked with local chefs and adapted to find community-based solutions. Ultimately, they opened 26 kitchens across the island. By harnessing that spirit of community, Andrés and his army of volunteers were able to deliver meals—and hope—to hundreds of thousands of people with humanity, dignity, and respect.

“A leader is one that, when something like this happens, leaves everything aside and goes to take care of their fellow citizens, of their fellow Americans,” Andrés recently told NPR. “[It] happens, it seems, I became the leader. But actually, we had 25,000 leaders.”

As Puerto Rico continues to rebuild, the short film Making Fire by Concordia Studio tells the story of this critical work, uncovers the systems that failed the island, and inspires us to use our collective talents for good.