Local Chef feels pride and guilt after cooking for Puerto Rico

More than half of Puerto Rico is still without electricity.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall Sunday for the Unity March, supporting disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Even, Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of Broadway's Hamilton, participated in the rally. 

More than half of Puerto Rico is still without electricity.

That's one of the reasons why a local chef, Sammy Diaz, said he was devastated when he returned from the Island last week.

Diaz, Head Chef at Republic in Takoma Park, went to Puerto Rico with a small group of friends and cooked for three separate towns in three days.

"When I got back, I kind of was in a slump for a lot of days,” said Diaz. 

He showed WUSA9 some of the photos and videos from his trip. In one of the pictures, you see two men using a piece of a roof as the base to make a make-shift charcoal grill. 

It was a short, but meaningful cooking trip to Puerto Rico--a journey that should make him proud. However, when he returned, he said he felt guilty. 

“…To come home and see that I had a bed a floor, running water, you know and electricity,” said Diaz, “because in a lot of these places we went to, they didn't have any of them." 

Describing the trip, Diaz said, “There's a lady that we cried with because she's, like, you know, 'Thank you for providing food for my kids. You know, we got tired of eating out of cans, and you know, for the first time, I can say, 'Thank you,' you got a hot meal.'" 

That was another shocker for Diaz -- he said a few of the people he helped told him their group was the first to come.

On their map, Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico was one of the places Chef Jose Andres’ foundation, World Central Kitchen, has not gone and served more than 2.3 million meals for the people of Puerto Rico.

Last weekend, Diaz and four chef-friends, who call themselves Chefs de Borinquen, left with a plan to cook fresh meals for three days, in three different towns: Juana Diaz, San Lorenzo, and Humacao.

Humacao, Puerto Rico is the next town just North of where Hurricane Maria made landfall last September.

"We're cleaning pots to re-cook in with bottles of water because we didn't have any water to use inside the kitchen,” said Diaz. 

In the mountains with cooked meals, Diaz said, “You know we started walking door-to-door with flashlights.” He said it was dangerous to walk around the mountainous areas without any light, so most people stay in at night.

Diaz said they fought to fundraise, to get there, and to get supplies once there.

RELATED: Determined to help Puerto Rico, Takoma Park chef shares cooking

In the end, Diaz says they made over 3,000 meals.

Chef Sammy wants to go back.

He told WUSA 9, “The need is definitely there -- like the need is definitely there." 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment