World Central Kitchen has been on the ground in Wilmington and Raleigh since early last week, preparing to provide first responders and those housed at area shelters with two hot meals a day.
Chef José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with the belief that food can be an agent of change. The organization has since expanded globally, and its mission is to bring together chefs to create new solutions to fighting hunger and poverty.
The Spanish-American, James Beard Award-winning chef is often credited with bringing the small plates dining concept to the United States. He owns restaurants in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and Puerto Rico.
Disaster relief, in the form of hearty, nourishing meals for those in need, is a central focus of his organization. Recent efforts during Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico have helped the organization to improve their abilities to provide food amidst the most dire of circumstances.
Headquartered at Diamond Food Enterprises near the county offices off South College road, chef Jason Collis has been leading the effort in Wilmington.
He got involved with the charity after fires ravaged his hometown of Ventura, California. Teaming up with local chefs such as Diamond Food Enterprises owner Steve Lambros, Keith Rhodes of Catch, Christi Ferretti of Pine Valley Market and Matt Lennert of Spoonfed Kitchen, the all-volunteer Kitchen has been feeding first responders and shelters in the surrounding counties since Wednesday.
The menu varies but includes a meat and vegetarian option. Collis said the food focuses on local flavors.
Hurricane Florence marks the fourth time Collis has worked for World Central Kitchen. He also helped during the volcano eruptions in Guatemala and Hawaii.
“I know how it feels,” he said. “When I saw the impact it has, I knew it was my calling.”
Matt Lennert, who owns and operates Spoonfed Kitchen with his wife, Kim, has been working with World Central Kitchen while trying to get his own business back up and running.
He said he’s known of the organization for some time and was eager to help.
“Organizations such as this make it possible for those of us who want to help to make a much bigger impact than we could on our own,” Matt Lennert said.
He said that Steve Lambros and his team, backed by hundreds of volunteers, have been working around the clock. That manpower, combined with World Central Kitchen’s logistics capabilities, have allowed the organization to feed thousands with remarkable efficiency.
As for his own business, Lennert said Spoonfed Kitchen experienced only minor damage and he hopes to re-open Wednesday or Thursday of this week with a skeleton crew.
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