A state of emergency is still in effect on the island of Puerto Rico.
Thousands are without power, water and food.
Chef Alejandro Perez with World Central Kitchen knows exactly how bad this situation can get. He lived through Hurricane Maria and now he’s using his talents in the kitchen to help his fellow boricuas go to bed with a full stomach.
"I was a chef before Maria," Alejandro Perez told me. " After Maria, most of the chefs lost their jobs and we didn't have much to do."
So he did the next best thing ... volunteer with Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen. Through the organization, Chef Alejandro has traveled to Colombia, Guatemala and Indonesia to help people around the world after disaster situations.
Alejandro Perez cook for people in disaster areas all around the world
Most of his family is from Bayamon (near San Juan) in the north part of the island. They weren't directly impacted by the earthquake. "But down south I have some family members that don't even want to be inside their houses because they're afraid," the chef explained.
He couldn't have imagined being able to help so many of his own boricuas, let alone people around the world following Hurricane Maria. "When Maria happened, we didn't know 15 thousand, 25 thousand, meals looked like. It was a learning experience for the chefs there. Chefs that had been cooking, 10, 20 and 30 years."
Every activation of World Central Kitchen is completely different. "In Puerto Rico we cook a lot of pork dishes and spices. Not spicy, just spices. But in Indonesia it's a lot of spicy food, he described."
After the hurricane it took World Central Kitchen a while to get everything into a flow. But when the earthquake hit, WCK had volunteers assembled and meals being made just two hours after the first tremor. Chef Alejandro believes it's imperative that he and the other chefs with World Central Kitchen teach chefs around the world how to prepare for situations like this.
In Ponce, near the epicenter of the earthquake, he's at a station making ham and cheese sandwiches with a "secret sauce". That "secrect sauce" is mayo-ketchup! "It was invented by Puerto Ricans," the chef proudly explained.
Yesterday, WUSA9 put up a poll on Instagram stories asking who has been to the island and who has donated to the relief funds. While only 20% of you have been to the island of Puerto Rico, 20% of you also told us that you have donated to the relief efforts. For that, Chef Alejandro is thankful.
With earthquakes and aftershocks continuing to hit the island it's unclear what you'll find intact the next time you visit, but just know that the carne frita and mayo-ketchup will be there to greet you!