An internationally renowned chef who recently dedicated his time to relief efforts in the Port City has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Chef and humanitarian José Andrés, founder of ThinkFoodGroup and World Central Kitchen (WCK), was nominated for the award last week by Rep. John Delaney of Maryland.
If he were to win, Andrés would be the first chef to receive the award.
ThinkFoodGroup operates 17 restaurants and a catering company, but Andrés dedicates much of his time to advocacy and education, as well as disaster relief via World Central Kitchen. He was among the first on the ground in Wilmington to set up WCK’s operations center at the start of Hurricane Florence.
At the height of the Hurricane Florence response effort, WCK was serving 20,000 meals a day. In all, WCK served 300,000 meals during the 20 days it set up operations through activated kitchens from Raleigh, Lumberton, New Bern and Wilmington. Just weeks later, he and his team were on the ground in Florida throughout Hurricane Michael, and most recently serving the victims of the California wildfires.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Andrés said that food plays a role in national security, public health, and even in immigration given that many restaurant kitchens are run by immigrants, primarily from Central America.
Christi Ferretti (pictured with Andrés, right), co-owner of Pine Valley Market in Wilmington, worked with Andrés and WCK throughout Hurricane Florence, eventually setting up a satellite kitchen for the operation at the market.
“I feel like it was a brush with greatness on our end,” Ferretti said. “And the impact of his work was so tangible for the people here in Wilmington. He offered peace right here in this community at a time when people were facing dire circumstances.”
This Thanksgiving, Andrés was in California, preparing hot meals for survivors of the Camp Fire, along with fellow chefs Tyler Florence and Guy Fieri. They served 15,000 meals on Thanksgiving Day.
“The least we can be doing today on Thanksgiving is all coming together and show the people what they deserve: love and support, one plate of food at a time,” Andrés said in a video posted to his Twitter feed.