José Andrés Received The Order Of Merit From President Zelensky For His Ukraine Efforts

You may be familiar with Spanish-born chef, José Andrés, for his PBS show, "Made in Spain," or perhaps his appearances on Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" or Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show." The James Beard Award winner also has several restaurants to his name, including é by José Andrés in Las Vegas and minibar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. However, it's his seemingly relentless dedication to his charity, World Central Kitchen, that appears to take up the majority of his time and impress his admirers the most.

Many celebrities use their fame for good, and Andrés is a prime example. World Central Kitchen started in 2010 after an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.0 struck Haiti, causing a path of destruction and robbing people of their homes. Andrés believes that "food relief is not just a meal that keeps the hunger away. ... After a disaster, food is the fastest way to rebuild our sense of community." Not limited to providing meals to those affected by disasters, WCK also aims to help communities become more self-sufficient in the relief process, creating jobs locally to "jump-start economic recovery."

In the last decade, WCK has provided relief after many world disasters, including the 2017 aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and more recently, Andrés' organization impressed the world with its meal service for Ukraine.

Andrés said his award is really for the people of Ukraine

WCK has been on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding areas since the Russian invasion began on February 24. Currently, the organization is focused on preparing for "the first full winter of the war," securing supplies and volunteers to feed people in both "frontline and recently liberated regions," which are in danger due to a lack of heat, water, and electricity. 

The Ukrainian WCK team has consisted of more than 4,500 people, including "chefs, drivers, warehouse managers, and logistic experts." Chef Andrés calls them "Food Fighters," and they have provided more than 175 million meals at 8,000 distribution sites in Ukraine, Poland, and other surrounding countries. As reported by Forbes, since the war started, Andrés has spent more than 80 days in Ukraine supporting the efforts of his charity. One Ukrainian interviewee helped by WCK said, "It is very good that there are people who help us and this belief we are not alone. That we feel morally supported is priceless."

On November 22, Andrés aid to the people of Ukraine was recognized with the Ukrainian Order of Merit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The chef shared a photo of his medal and said on Twitter, "People of Ukraine this message and this recognition, the Order of Merit, is not for me but for you. Every day Food Fighters...provide relief & support to neighbors in need, bringing hope through food!" People seemed to agree with Zelensky's chosen recipient, leaving comments like, "Thank you for taking care of the world's people."