Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles All right, let's get ready for the worst TED Talk ever. (Laughter) I mean it. We prepared 30 minutes ago. I want to have it clear -- I love to be here with you all, but I wanted to be here not to tell my story but to tell the story of the amazing people of Puerto Rico that came together to feed the people of Puerto Rico. My name is José Andrés, and you know I love to feed the few, but even more, I love to feed the many. Here, right after the hurricane, like we'd done many times before after an earthquake in Haiti or Sandy or others, I had this sense of urgency to be there and to try to feed one person, and always, you have crazy friends that want to join you in those impossible endeavors. I'm always surrounded by amazing friends that only help me to be better. Nate came next to me. This was a Monday, and this is what we found. The destruction you saw on TV, one more hurricane, but this destruction was real. More than 85 percent of the electricity in the island was gone. Every single electric post was gone. All the cell towers were gone. You couldn't communicate with anybody. You couldn't find anybody the moment you moved away from San Juan. Even in San Juan, we had issues trying to use our cell phones. And what I found was that the island was hungry, and the people didn't have money, because ATMs were not working, or their cards, which are electronic, for food stamps, they couldn't use it in their supermarkets, or there was no food or gas or clean water to cook. The need and the urgency of now was real, and I was just able to get into a meeting at FEMA, where many of the main NGO partners were having a conversation about how to feed the island in the weeks to come, but the urgency was right now, in this minute, in this second, and we almost had three million people that needed to be fed. So we began doing what we do best. We went to see the sources of food, and I was able to see that the private industry actually was ready and prepared and thriving, but somebody at FEMA was not able even to be aware of that. And what we did was use fine kitchens. José Enrique, one of my favorite men in the whole world, one of the great restaurants in San Juan, where before landing, I began calling all the chefs of Puerto Rico, and everybody was like, "Let's not plan, let's not meet, let's start cooking." (Laughter) And that's what we did. We began feeding the people of Puerto Rico, on a Monday. On a Monday, we did a thousand meals, sancocho, an amazing stew with corn and yucca and pork. By Sunday, we were doing 25,000. By Sunday, we already didn't only use the restaurant, but we rented the parking lot right across. We began bringing food trucks, and a rice and chicken pie operation, and refrigerators, and volunteers began coming. Why? Because everybody wants to find a place to help, a place to do something. This is how we began our first delivery. The hospitals -- nobody was feeding the nurses and the doctors, and we began feeding our first project, Hospital Carolina. All of a sudden, every single hospital was calling us. "We need food so we can feed our 24/7 employees taking care of the sick and the elderly and the people in need." And then the place was too small. We were receiving orders. Every time we got one guest, one customer, we never stopped serving them, because we wanted to make sure that we were able to be stabilizing any place we were joining, any city, any hospital, any elderly home. Every time we made contact with them, we kept serving them food, day after day, so we needed to grow. We moved into the big coliseum. 25,000 meals became 50,000 meals, became, all of a sudden, the biggest restaurant in the world. We were making close to 70,000 meals a day from one location alone. (Applause) Volunteers began showing up by the hundreds. At one point, we got more than 7,000 volunteers that were at least one hour or more with us, at any given moment, more than 700 people at once. You saw that we began creating a movement, a movement that had a very simple idea everybody could rally behind: let's feed the hungry. And we began making food that people could recognize, not things that come from a faraway place in plastic bags that you open and you cannot even smell. (Laughter) We began making the foods that people feel home. People in these moments, they had this urgency of feeling they are alive, that somebody cares. One meal at a time, it didn't only become something used to bring calories to their bodies, calories that they needed, but they needed something else. They wanted to make sure that you and you and you and you, that you were caring, that we were sending the message that we are with you. Give us time, we are trying to fix this. That's what we found every time we began joining the communities. Fresh fruit began coming, even when in FEMA, they were asking me, "José, how are you able to get the food?" Simple: by calling and paying and getting. (Laughter) (Applause) We began feeding people in San Juan. Before you knew, we were feeding the 78 municipalities all across the island. We needed a plan. One kitchen alone was not going to feed the island. I went to FEMA. They kicked me out with eight armored guards and AK-47s. I told them, "I want 18 kitchens around the island." Guess what? Three days ago, we reached our 18th kitchen around Puerto Rico. (Applause) People began being fed. Volunteers kept showing up. We never had any system to deliver the food, people would tell me. Sure, we had the system. The entire island of Puerto Rico was the perfect delivery system. Anybody with a truck wanted to help. Anybody going from A to B was for us the way to be bringing hope and a plate and a whole meal to anybody. We began finding amazing systems to do these food trucks, 10 amazing food trucks. We began learning not to use the place that needed the food, but the number, the number of the apartment: Lolo, a 92-year-old veteran that was surrounded by water. We began giving not only hope to people, but knowing their names, checking day after day, making sure that those elderly people will never, ever again feel alone in a moment of disrepair. And we began going to the deeper areas, places that all of a sudden, the bridges were broken, but we had to go, because it was easy to stay in San Juan. We had to go to those places that actually, they really needed us. And we kept going, and people kept waiting for us, because they knew that we will always show up, because we will never leave them alone. (Applause) The food trucks became our angels, and the food trucks kept sending hope, but we saw we needed more: Vieques and Culebra, two islands far away from the island -- somebody had to be feeding them. We didn't only bring food and make a hotel kitchen operation in Vieques and bring daily food to Culebra. We brought the first water purification system to the island of Vieques, where we could be filtering one gallon per minute. All of a sudden, big problems become very simple, low-hanging fruit solutions, only by doing, not planning and meeting in a very big building. (Laughter) And then we found creative ways. We needed helicopters. We asked. We got. We needed planes. We asked, we paid, and we got. We kept sending food to those places that really were in need. And the simple ideas just become powerful. Volunteers will go to the edges of the island. All of a sudden, it was a movement. The teams of World Central Kitchen will be received with prayers, with songs, with claps, with hearts, with smiles. We were able to connect in so many corners. When I tell you that even the National Guard began calling us because our national poor guy's guards, big heroes in a moment of chaos, they couldn't get a simple humble plate of hot food. And partnerships show up. Mercy Corps, HSI from Homeland Security, partnerships that they didn't happen calling the top. They happened in the hotel room, in the middle of the street, in the middle of the mountains. We saw that by working together, we can even reach more people. Partnerships that happen by logic, and the urgency of now is put to the service of the people. When we have emergency relief organizations, we cannot be planning about how to give aid a month from now. We have to be ready to start giving help the second after something happens. And children were fed, and all of a sudden, the island, while still in a very special moment where everything is fragile, we saw that an NGO like ours -- we didn't want to break the private sector -- that already, small restaurants were being opened, that somehow, normalcy, whatever normalcy means today in Puerto Rico, was happening. We began trying to be sending the message: we need to start moving away from the places that are already stabilized and keep concentrating in the areas that really need help. (Video): People of Puerto Rico, two million meals! José Andrés OK, let me translate this to you. (Laughter) Almost 28 days later, more than 10 food trucks, more than 7,000 volunteers, 18 kitchens ... we served more than two million meals. (Applause) (Applause ends) And you guys coming here to TED, you should be proud, because we know many of you, you are part of the change. But the change is only going to happen if after we leave this amazing conference, we put the amazing ideas and inspiration that we get, and we believe that nothing is impossible, and we put our know-how to the service of those in need. I arrived to an island trying to feed a few people, and I saw a big problem, and all of a sudden, the people of Puerto Rico saw the same problem as me, and only we did one thing: we began cooking. And so the people of Puerto Rico and the chefs of Puerto Rico, in a moment of disrepair, began bringing hope, not by meeting, not by planning, but with only one simple idea: let's start cooking and let's start feeding the people of Puerto Rico. Thank you. (Applause) Dave Troy: Go back out. (Laughter) DT: The public loves you. (Applause) Nate Mook: A couple of quick questions, because I think some folks would be interested to hear. So as you said, you came the first time, got on the ground, went to the government command center, started to have some meetings with people, and they weren't very receptive. José Andrés: This is great. This is how good my talk was. (Laughter) It's the first talk with a follow-up in the history of TED. I feel so good. (Laughter) NM: So tell us why, what were some of the challenges, and then when you noticed, they started coming to you to ask you. JA: We cannot be asking everything from Red Cross or Salvation Army. But the idea is, I donated before to those organizations, and they are the big organizations, and maybe the problem is that we'