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  • 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'