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Chef Jose Andres Is In The Bahamas Preparing To Feed Dorian Victims


The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas with its pink spires and towers and pools is, for the moment, the base camp for Jose Andres. The celebrity chef is running a food aid mission and rode out Hurricane Dorian at that resort.

JOSE ANDRES: My team and I, we think, like, we got at moments winds of maybe 80 miles per hour, maybe more. So they were very heavy rain.

INSKEEP: He's thinking, of course, about islands that were far more heavily hit by the storm. He is about to embark to Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, which have experienced vastly more destruction. This is what Jose Andres does. He tries to feed people after a hurricane.

So you are in Nassau because you, to use a military term, you pre-positioned yourself. You wanted to be ready.

ANDRES: We are learning that pre-positioning yourself in a hurricane buys you precious time. You know, when - we're in the business of feeding people after a hurricane. Sometimes in some parts people obviously they can be OK one, two, three days later. But for some people, sometimes three days is way too much. Some people don't have any food at home or if they had, they lost it because the hurricane. It's absolutely nothing to what we know people were experiencing in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

INSKEEP: So you're in Nassau. You're on a different island than the island over which the hurricane stalled for quite some time. What has it been like to be so near people in that kind of distress and yet in a way very far from them?

ANDRES: The destruction of - in Abaco and Grand Bahama is huge. So for us that we are a small NGO but that we've shown that we can grow like we did in Puerto Rico, like we did in Indonesia, in Mozambique and adapt, this is a big challenge that we have never seen before. I hope that the experience and the training we had over the last 10-plus years of going to hurricanes and destructions, hopefully we will put all the knowhow because, again, this is going to have to be a very kind of different way of providing food aid.

INSKEEP: Well, what did you do - for those who don't recall, what was your technique in, say, Puerto Rico, and what do you think you'll have to adjust for the Bahamas?

ANDRES: Well, hold on. We don't have any technique that is very difficult or very special. What we have is we have a lot of empathy. What is going to be different in Bahamas - much of the - these two islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas is still - they're underwater. The airports are still today - they are underwater that has been a destruction, like, probably we've never seen in such a small space of land. The destruction in percentage of houses has been a huge percentage of houses damaged. And that's the challenge.

INSKEEP: I guess in Puerto Rico you moved in here and there to a hotel kitchen, and one question is going to be, is there a kitchen that is in any kind of usable order, Grand Bahama or elsewhere?

ANDRES: Well, if there's no kitchen, initially, we will try to be bringing the food daily, whether through a boat and - or a helicopter. We are working from Atlantis, which is a resort. Just for the record, I have a restaurant - it happens I have a restaurant here. So we're going to start probably cooking here. We are already making sandwiches. It's amazing because we have many guests of the resort that they kind of stop whatever their vacation, whatever they were doing, and they began coming, entire families coming, to help us make sandwiches. When you see things like this, it's really unbelievable. So we'll start making hot meals, too. It's a very huge kitchen here. And at the end, we'll have to do, you know, like, open kitchen campaign type of thing. I was very young when my father will start feeding people making a fire in the middle of nowhere in a big paella pan. And my father will feed hundred to 200. That's about how many people came. So I'm going to keep the same experience of my father and do exactly the same.

INSKEEP: Well, Jose Andres, thank you very much and please be safe.

ANDRES: Thank you, sir. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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