With We Fed an Island, chef-and-restaurateur-turned-relief worker José Andrés doesn’t just tell the story about how he and a fleet of volunteers cooked millions of meals for the Americans left adrift on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He exposes what he views as an outdated top-down, para-military-type model of disaster relief ... No one is spared Andrés’s critical eye, including the chef himself ... Although it contains moments of real pathos, the book is not a saccharine, self-serving tribute to the work of thousands of chefs, line cooks, food truck operators and other volunteers who heeded the call to help from Andrés’s nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen. It’s a manifesto asking governments and nonprofit groups to rethink the way they feed people after a natural disaster ... We Fed an Island is as close to a page-turner as current-affairs nonfiction gets.
Andrés’ heart is very much on display in his new book ... We Fed an Island isn’t just a memoir, or even a memoir with message — it’s an impassioned call to action. Bonus: Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the forward ... Threaded through these achievements, Andrés and Wolffe also provide context ... We Fed an Island is meant to be both an object lesson and a reminder of how much work there is yet to be done in Puerto Rico ... His book, however, will have more effect than any awards or accolades. We Fed an Island for all its righteous boosterism, is a tremendously valuable first-hand account of just what disasters look like — both the ones that nature visits upon us and those that we and our governments visit upon ourselves. It is both cynical and immensely optimistic, and it is ultimately heartwarming.
Impassioned and unwavering in his resolve, Andrés and equally committed coauthor Wolffe do a masterful job of detailing World Central Kitchen’s work. They also provide a primer on Puerto Rican history and a brisk analysis of how the federal government failed its citizens ... This is an earthshaking report on Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic aftermath and a hopeful and determined look toward preventing similar failures in the future.