What is World Central Kitchen, the NGO of Spanish chef José Andrés attacked in Gaza

At least seven humanitarian workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) have died in an attack by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 16:21
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What is World Central Kitchen, the NGO of Spanish chef José Andrés attacked in Gaza

At least seven humanitarian workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) have died in an attack by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip. The organization has paused its work in the humanitarian corridor after the attack, which took place "despite having coordinated its operations with the Israeli army", according to the founder himself, the Spanish chef living in the US José Ramón Andrés Cuesta —better known as José Andrés—.

As defined on its own portal, WCK "is the first organization to respond to emergencies, providing nutritious food to people impacted by humanitarian, climate and community crises." This NGO was born in 2010 by the Spanish chef and his wife, after the devastating earthquake that occurred that year in Haiti. "It was not just about feeding people in need, but about listening, learning and cooking alongside people affected by the crisis," the NGO says on its website.

From that moment on, WCK focused part of its investments on "long-term solutions related to food in the Caribbean and Central America" ​​without forgetting emergency actions in other crises of all kinds.

In 2017 he emerged as a leader of disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. For his management of that crisis, José Andrés was named Humanitarian of the Year 2018 by the James Beard Foundation.

WCK also coordinated food distribution and other humanitarian aid efforts in natural disasters such as that caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas (2017) or the volcanic eruption in Hawaii (2018).

Also during the covid-19 pandemic, the work of the NGO was significant. In 2020, Andrés transformed eight of his restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C. into soup kitchens to help customers affected by the pandemic; collaborated in San Francisco with local entities and restaurants to provide meals to hospital staff; and, among others, he collaborated with a baseball team in Washington to use their stadium as a kitchen and distribution center for free meals.

Recently, WCK has also participated in humanitarian missions in Ukraine to serve food to people affected by the war that Russia began in March 2022. One of its restaurants, located in Kharkiv, suffered the consequences of the bombings in the city and four of The volunteers were injured. A person not affiliated with the NGO lost his life in the attack, but the catastrophe could have been much worse in the opinion of the famous chef: "If the missile had landed in the restaurant, no one would have been saved." Despite this, he continues working on the ground.

In Gaza, the NGO has collaborated since the first shipment of aid to the area through a maritime corridor from Cyprus. The second shipment, delayed on several occasions and with 332 tons of food, was scheduled for this first week of April.

Following the attack on Gaza, WCK has paused its activity in the Gaza Strip, while the international community has confirmed that an independent entity will investigate the attack.