Disaster Relief Meals Served With A Gourmet Twist

Sep 28, 2018

Chef Jose Andres started the World Central Kitchen to provide meals for those affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Eight years later, his organization teamed up with local chefs to cook meals for people displaced by Hurricane Florence.

The World Central Kitchen arrived in North Carolina on September 12, just before Hurricane Florence made landfall. It opened four kitchen stationed in Raleigh, Wilmington, New Bern, and Lumberton. Volunteers cooked fresh meals each morning and delivered them to shelters across the state. So far, the organization has served over 250,000 meals.

Bryan Little worked in the Raleigh kitchen last week. He's the executive chef at Bon Appetit's Atrium Cafe on the SAS campus in Cary. 

"They needed chef help and we got the call, so we came," Little said. 

It was his first time working with the World Central Kitchen. He would wake up early in the morning to help plan menues and drive to Raleigh. Then, he would start cooking. 

Dean Ogan is the head chef at Rocky Top Catering Company in Raleigh. He opened his facilities to the World Central Kitchen. He said there are certain parameters Chef Andres has provided for how meals should be prepared. 

"Chef Andres likes one pot dishes, essentially, to where you get your protein, your starch, and your side are all in the same pot and one person can take a scoop and get everything they need," Ogan said. 

His menues rely heavily on what is donated to the kitchen. Ogan said that element made the experience feel a bit like an Iron Chef challenge. 

"The first day we started, Sysco Foods, through World Central Kitchen, just delivered a truck with 1,400 boxes on it and we had to have a meal for 550 people prepared in two hours," Ogan said. "So, we went on the truck and just figured it out with the chef from World Central Kitchen."

Menues included meals like white chocolate baguettes from La Farm bakery for breakfast and roasted herb chicken with succotash for dinner. 

Ogan said the Raleigh kitchen made about 8,000 meals daily. Those meals were sent to Red Cross shelters, makeshift shelters in schools, and to first responders.

Jennifer O'Carroll is a homeschool teacher who came to volunteer. Like Bryan Little, this was her first time working with the World Central Kitchen. 

"I wanted to make sure that I gave back somewhere. And we're in Raleigh, so we got lucky. So, it's our turn to make sure that everybody else is taken care of," O'Carroll said. 

The Raleigh kitchen is closing this week, but kitchens in Lumberton and Wilimington will remain open for at least another week.