Chef José Andrés affirms that the bombing of his aid kitchens around kyiv could have caused many deaths
Seeing everything you’ve worked for suddenly disappear in a bombardment is a shock. This is how chef José Andrés and his team from the NGO World Central Kitchen feel after the air attack launched by Russia against their aid kitchens in the outskirts of kyiv last Saturday, which left four injured and one deceased who was not part of of the mission. The missile, which was “quite powerful”, “fell close. If he had fallen in the restaurant, no one would have been saved, ”said the founder of the NGO, the Spanish chef José Andrés, on Monday.
The projectile hit the kitchen of a local restaurant where the entity worked. The building was “totally destroyed,” said the cook, who is currently in Ukraine. Despite the shock that so many of these humanitarian volunteers, as well as the civilians and soldiers who defend the country from the invaders, experience every day, the members of this team, who have been working for the NGO for weeks, “are doing well,” said the chef, and they have decided to stay “to continue cooking in another location”.
In this way, the workers of the World Central Kitchen once again give themselves thoroughly in their humanitarian work, between yesterday and today, in a new location in Kharkov, specified José Andrés. His NGO has more than 300 kitchens scattered throughout Ukraine and other neighboring countries to help the population. “We try to keep the teams very safe, but people have to keep eating,” explained the chef. And they do it in “very poor areas where there are no supermarkets or in bunkers.”
It is the first time that this humanitarian mission has received a blow like this since it has carried out its work in Ukraine. “This is the reality here: cooking is a heroic act of bravery,” project director Nate Mook said in a video where he appears surrounded by rubble in front of the building hit by the Russian missile and completely destroyed. “A tremendous amount of destruction for no reason,” he lamented.
The founder of the NGO, which has carried out the mission since almost the beginning of the invasion in person, was in Chernigov when he heard about what had happened. He lamented the “carnage” caused by the offensive by Kremlin troops and noted on his Twitter account that “Russian attacks on civilian buildings, markets, churches, etc., must end.”
Taking advantage of the occasion, he also wanted to send a message to the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and to the opposition leader of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to whom he asked for a “bipartisan” response against the war. “The people of Ukraine deserve our respect and admiration,” he noted.
World Central Kitchen is dedicated to preparing meals for Ukrainians living in areas liberated from the Russian invasion, as well as at the border crossings to the territories in the west of the country. What is it like to live and work in the middle of a war? “I focus on feeding, but sometimes you can’t escape the realities. The spirit of the people of Ukraine is incredible,” said the cook, who despite being in a quiet area in the north of the country, still hears the bombing.
On the other hand, José Andrés emphasized the admiration that the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, has achieved since the beginning of the invasion. “A lot of people tell you that he didn’t vote for him, but now he’s their leader. And we cannot let this war be played by the Ukrainians alone. Democratic countries have to be with President Zelenski and with the Ukrainians, “warned the chef.