February 26, 2021

cruciforme

travel, Always a step ahead

How the ‘most lauded chef in the world’ is feeding Dallasites in crisis

4 min read

When disaster strikes, chef Jose Andres and his team at World Central Kitchen (WCK) always seem to be ready.

Andres’ crew has been in Dallas since Friday, Feb. 19, serving free meals to people suffering from power outages or who are hungry and thirsty, after a wave of ice and snow blanketed the state. The World Central Kitchen team remains in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, with plans to stay in the Lone Star State for at least another few days.

Off the Bone Barbeque is partnering with World Central Kitchen to feed people in Dallas after the winter storms on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.
Off the Bone Barbeque is partnering with World Central Kitchen to feed people in Dallas after the winter storms on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.(Jason Janik/Special Contributor)

So far, WCK has served 6,000 meals in Dallas-Fort Worth and 80,000 meals across Texas. The greatest need is in Austin, but crews remain committed to handing out food at senior centers and recreation centers in all four major cities, says Fiona Donovan, relief operations lead for WCK.

“For us, the food is a way to keep people from going hungry, but it’s also a showing of kindness, support and empathy,” she says.

The organization pairs with small businesses in Dallas and beyond, and it pays each restaurant $10 per meal. WCK’s partnership with family-owned restaurantsstarted during the coronavirus pandemic, and it proved to be a lasting model during the weather crisis in Texas, Donovan says. It offers restaurants a way to continue to make money while they help their communities.

Restaurants cooking food are asked to make 6 ounces of vegetables, 6 ounces of protein and 4-6 ounces of starch.

“We try to make them hearty, healthy and can sustain people,” Donovan says.

Where to find hot food and water in Dallas:

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, WCK and its Dallas restaurant partners will hand out free meals at 1 p.m. at:

  • Mattie Nash Myrtle Davis Recreation Center, 3710 N. Hampton Road, Dallas
  • Ledbetter Food Pantry at Carver Heights Baptist Church, 2510 E. Ledbetter Drive, Dallas
  • Literacy Achieves, 6329 Ridgecrest Road, Dallas

Because crisis efforts change by the hour, WCK does not have a real-time map available to Dallasites looking for hot food. Donovan says they are moving their efforts to areas with the greatest need. Denton will be served soon, she says.

WCK is also organizing hot meals for several senior-living communities in Dallas-Fort Worth. Members of the public can’t attend those food handouts.

Volunteers help unload and pack food supplies for families during a drive through food drive hosted by Harvest Project Food Rescue and the North Texas Dream Team, July 22, 2020 outside of East Grand Preparatory in Dallas.

D-FW restaurants making meals:

  • Island Spot in Oak Cliff
  • Kwench Juice Cafe in Frisco
  • Jaxon Beer Garden in downtown Dallas
  • Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth
  • TJ’s Seafood in Dallas
  • Roti Grill in Dallas
  • Beto & Son in West Dallas
  • Off the Bone Barbeque in Dallas’ Cedars neighborhood

Outside of Dallas, Burns Burner Shack in Houston handed out 5,600 barbecue sandwiches to those in need. In Austin, WCK partnered with Mexican food brand Siete and Asian smokehouse Loro to make 1,000 lunches for a clinic for kids under 17 years old with complex medical issues.

“As much as we can, we try to work with smaller, family-run restaurants,” Donovan says.

Andres’ efforts in times of crisis earned him the title of one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” twice in the last decade. He’s also a James Beard award winner, an honor akin to the Oscars of food. We have called him the “most lauded chef in the world.”

Beyond his non-profit work, Andres operates a fleet of restaurants in cities like Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City. His restaurants Minibar in D.C. and Somni in Los Angeles have both received two Michelin stars. (Minibar is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic; Somni is permanently closed.) Andres had a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant named Zaytinya in Frisco, but it closed in late 2019.

Other humanitarian efforts in Dallas-Fort Worth in the wake of the winter storm:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle donated to Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support after it suffered significant damage due to the storm.

Hope Danals fills containers with filtered water at Cowtown Brewery in Fort Worth.
Hope Danals fills containers with filtered water at Cowtown Brewery in Fort Worth.(Lawrence Jenkins / Special Contributor)

The Rustic, a restaurant in Uptown Dallas, is encouraging Dallasites to donate a hot chicken and cheese sandwich to Genesis to help them out. The Rustic will match every donation. The sandwiches cost $14.95 plus tax; call 214-730-0596 or order one online.

A foundation called Staff Meal is handing out 2,500 free meals on Tuesday, Feb. 23. If you’re in need, visit any of these D-FW taco shops — Mesero, Fuzzy’s Tacos, Jose, Trompo, OMG Tacos and a dozen more — and ask for the “Staff Meal Special.”

Local breweries have turned into impromptu water stations for those in need.‍

In the past few days, food folks made big efforts: chefs cooked in the dark; farmers scrambled to save livestock and crops; local companies delivered dinner while the bigger shops like Uber Eats and DoorDash were shut down. There were even some restaurants that never took a snow day.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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