Austin, TX – The Texas Center for the Book (TCFB) recently welcomed Chef José Andrés to discuss his book, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, a Read Across Texas 2021 selection. This exclusive conversation with TCFB Coordinator Rebekah Manley was filmed as is now available to all Read Across Texas participating libraries and community groups for use in local programming (bit.ly/TXChefTalk).
We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, by José Andrés with Richard Wolffe, documents the chef's arrival in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island and his subsequent recovery work there. The economy was destroyed, and, for most people, there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world. He addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time.
“In this book, if there was anything I learned, it was that some people, while they need to take care of their families, but there are always going to be people, that, once they feel they're okay, they want to do more for others. And this is a very powerful army.” said Andrés. “It's just people—we the people. People with empathy helping people. Nobody asking anybody, 'Who did you vote for?' No. Everybody voting for each other. And people may have different points of view on life—that's good! That's what being American is all about. In moments of disrepair, everybody comes as one, and everybody works towards one goal: bring relief to the people in need.”
Andrés also discussed his work with World Central Kitchen to aid in recovery “one plate at a time” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the February 2021 Texas snowstorm, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and other relief efforts worldwide, as well as his belief in the power of people to work together to tackle big problems such as climate change. “Every one of our actions can do for the common good,” he said. “We as individuals are more powerful than we think. But we need to believe it. And then ‘I’ the person becomes part of ‘we’ the people.”
Based on Andrés’s insider’s take as well as on meetings, messages, and conversations he had while in Puerto Rico, We Fed an Island movingly describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disasters both natural and man-made, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future.
The FREE E-BOOK versions of We Fed an Island, along with other 2021 selections All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing by Chris Barton, illustrated by Nicole Xu, and Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here by Nancy Wayson Dinan, are available to all Texas residents through June 25, 2021. Readers may access this e-book directly visiting Biblioboard at library.biblioboard.com/module/read-across-texas.
Learn more about Read Across Texas, including resources for discussion groups, additional videos, and information on how to register your library in the program, by visiting www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexas.
E-book access is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant #LS‐246193‐OLS‐20) to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. (2021).
Established in 1987, the Texas Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers, and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities. For more information, visit tsl.texas.gov.