Celebrity chef’s NGO coordinates humanitarian efforts in Gaza after Israeli attack

Celebrity chef José Andrés’ disdain for red tape is one of the reasons why his food charity found itself coordinating humanitarian efforts in Gaza after seven of its staff were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Aid workers from World Central Kitchen were killed when their convoy was attacked shortly after unloading 100 tons of food brought into Gaza by sea.

WCK last month, in collaboration with the Spanish charity Open Arms, began delivering food aid to hungry people in northern Gaza via a sea corridor from Cyprus.

It took action when Israel refused to allow the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) to deliver food to northern Gaza, based on claims that some of the agency’s staff took part in the October 7 attack on southern Israel by Palestinian Hamas fighters. Had taken.

Oscar Camps, director of Open Arms, said in an interview with Reuters that the sea route between Cyprus and Gaza has been open since December 20 but that no organization has used it.

He said they built a makeshift pier from the debris and landed aid supplies just meters away from the bombing amid Israel’s warning that it could not guarantee their safety.

Andres, who is Spanish and American, said on the social media platform

He said on March 26 that there were 67 WCK kitchens operating in Gaza, feeding 350,000 people daily. Operations are now suspended following Israeli air strikes on WCK convoys.

Earlier in the conflict, WCK partnered with restaurants and hospitals in Israel to feed people displaced or injured by the October 7 Hamas attack, and then switched to delivering air aid to Palestinians in Gaza in February.

Andres said Tuesday that he was deeply saddened and saddened by the families and friends of the seven WCK activists killed in the Israeli airstrike. These included citizens of Australia, Britain and Poland, as well as Palestinians and dual citizens of the United States and Canada.

US President Joe Biden spoke to Andres to express his condolences. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told a briefing that Biden also told Andres he would make it clear to Israel that aid workers must be protected.


Founded by Andrés in 2010, when he traveled to Haiti to help after the earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, WCK has rapidly become one of the leading providers of emergency aid in places of natural disaster or human conflict. has been made.

The NGO describes itself as “the first on the front lines”, using an “entrepreneurial and adaptive” approach to “feed people fast vs. asking for permission or following those systems and bureaucracies.” Which lack urgency and flexibility”.

“We’re already prepared when other people are assessing the situation, and in the process we learn what’s going on,” Andrés told the Spanish-language edition of Vanity Fair in a recent interview. , not the other way around.”

The charity says it entered Ukraine five days after Russia’s invasion in February 2022 and has set up restaurants in five cities.

Born in 1969 in a coal mining town in Spain’s northern Asturias region, Andrés worked as an apprentice at the experimental El Bulli restaurant in Ferran Adrià near Barcelona before moving to the United States in 1991, where he founded the tapas restaurant Jaleo.

His company ThinkFoodGroup now owns more than 20 restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars.

He has built relationships with some of the most powerful people in America, receiving a $100 million donation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2021 and building ties with former US President Barack Obama.

In 2014, the Obama administration named her an “Outstanding American by Choice”, an award given to naturalized American citizens who have accomplished extraordinary things, followed by a National Humanities Medal in 2015.

His relationship with Obama’s White House successor, Donald Trump, was no less cordial.

The Spaniard canceled plans for a restaurant at Trump’s Washington hotel after the then-presidential candidate made comments about Mexicans, calling them “rapists” and “killers.” Trump sued Andres for breach of contract and the two reached a settlement in 2017.

Published on:

3 April 2024