Several chefs in the metro area are teaming up at Taste of Atlanta to benefit Puerto Rico in the aftermath of two hurricanes.
Find the tent at Historic Fourth Ward Park with local chefs serving up sancocho, a traditional Puerto Rican dish. This soup, made with root vegetables and corn on the cob, is only $2 for a sample this weekend.
All proceeds collected from the sales of sancocho at Taste of Atlanta will benefit World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization founded by famous chef Jose Andres. In Puerto Rico, World Central Kitchen has served more than 1 million meals across the island through a network of chefs, cooks and local restaurants.
Humberto Guardiola, a culinary professor at Kennesaw State University, is one of the chefs helping at the Taste of Atlanta tent. He is originally from Puerto Rico.
“More than sending money to other organizations, that’s kind of a direct thing, a no-brainer for us,” he said, referring to benefitting World Central Kitchen. “Hey, we’re culinary people.”
Guardiola said he has been brainstorming ways to help Puerto Rico in his spare time, and in his research he discovered this event at Taste of Atlanta.
“Right now our island is suffering from, I think, the worst crisis they’ve had in their lifetime,” Guardiola said.
From empty ATMs to eight-hour lines for a tank of gas, Guardiola described the situation in Puerto Rico as he has gathered from friends and family on the island. With traffic lights out and major highways destroyed, travel takes several times longer than before the hurricanes. Much of the water is contaminated and isn’t drinkable.
“Everything is a hassle,” he said. “You take for granted the things that you have in life, the facilities.”
Guardiola’s parents stayed in Puerto Rico throughout the hurricane, as did his wife’s parents.
“I was blessed to be able to speak with my mom and my in-laws during the hurricane,” he said. “Once the airplanes were able to land and start getting people out, we got them here.”
Guardiola’s immediate family — his wife and 11-year-old daughter — are now joined at home by both Guardiola’s parents and his wife’s mother and father.
“It’s family,” Guardiola said. “It’s your blood.”
His bigger plan for helping his island is to dig into his roots and do what he knows best: culinary and hospitality. Guardiola wants to host a formal dinner or a gala that serves authentic Puerto Rican dishes, and all of the proceeds would benefit World Central Kitchen.
Until that idea becomes a reality, he will do what he can: keep his family safe, and serve sancocho at Taste of Atlanta. He and the other chefs and volunteers will be serving their Puerto Rican soup from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22.
In the face of such devastation, Guardiola said it’s been heartwarming to witness the outpouring of support.
“A lot of hearts have been opened,” Guardiola said. “Out of the tribulation, God works with the hearts of people to help.”
World Central Kitchen also accepts individual donations online.