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World Kitchen Central founder Jose Andres led a delegation of other chefs to Poland to feed thousands of Ukrainians desperately fleeing their country
World Kitchen Central founder José Andrés led a delegation of other chefs to Poland to feed thousands of Ukrainians desperately fleeing their country. Photo: Twitter/@chefjoseandres

Heroes in white aprons: Celebrity chef José Andrés distributes food to Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Spanish chef and World Kitchen Founder José Andrés went to the Polish border to oversee assistance to Ukrainian refugees.

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Six days ago, the well-known Spanish chef based in Washington D.C., José Andrés, arrived in Lviv, the Ukrainian city bordering Poland, to announce that the nonprofit organization he founded, World Central Kitchen, was cooking nonstop to distribute food to refugees fleeing the country.

World Central Kitchen was born with the goal of feeding people in disaster situations and works in partnership with collaborating restaurants in the region where it operates. In this case, Ukrainian, Polish and other nearby countries' restaurants that are hosting thousands of refugees fleeing war. 

"Why are we putting young men and women in this situation?" he said in a video posted on Twitter on Monday night. "We haven't learned enough from the horrors of the past. People, we need to raise our voices against the leaders who are tearing us apart."

The UN estimates the number of people who have fled Ukraine in less than a week is at nearly 700,000. The majority of those fleeing the war are women and children who've found refuge in neighboring Poland via eight checkpoints erected along the 300-mile border.

"It's hard to know that, even in this moment, there are mainly women with children walking for hours out of Ukraine to safety, to different countries," said Andrés. "Every country is welcoming them and every country is doing their best,  but it's hard to know there are people walking in the streets or spending the night in a car with no gas, with no way to heat themselves."

World Central Kitchen, Andres' nonprofit, has often gone out to deliver meals to people in places that have been devastated by natural disasters. The organization distributed meals after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, for example.

"Right now everyone is Ukrainian, I am Ukrainian, the world is Ukrainian," said the chef to the owner of one of the local partner restaurants, of whom he says he feels "especially proud."

He hopes this help will alleviate a little in "these dark hours" that Ukraine is going through, hoping to soon see "the light at the end of the tunnel." 

A few days ago, Andrés announced that more than 40 tons of humanitarian aid would leave Madrid for the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in southeastern Poland , with logistical material for the establishment of field kitchens for the World Central Kitchen.

The shipment includes stoves, insulated equipment to keep food warm, industrial-sized pans, lunch boxes and cooking utensils that volunteers will use for cooking.

Two months ago, the National Portrait Gallery of Washington announced its decision to award cAndrés for the impact his work has generated in the United States. 

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