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FEMA feuds with celebrity chef who served meals in Puerto Rico


A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official on Monday called celebrity chef José Andrés “a businessman looking for stuff to promote his business” after the chef criticized the response to Hurricane Maria while providing meals on the island, BuzzFeed News reported.

“He was very critical of us publicly and we were disappointed he took that approach,” Marty Bahamonde, director of the FEMA disaster operations division, told the news outlet. “We had a good working relationship, and we paid him a lot of money to do that work. It wasn’t volunteer work — so we were disappointed in some of his public comments.”

{mosads}FEMA reportedly awarded Andrés two short-term contracts worth a combined $11.5 million to assist in relief work. Andrés’s Washington-based organization, World Central Kitchen, has served millions of meals to Puerto Ricans as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria.

Andrés, however, has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to the disaster, tweeting that the federal government is “leaving the people of Puerto Rico hungry and thirsty.”

The chef, a Spanish immigrant who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013, has been a staunch critic of President Trump. He canceled his planned restaurant in Trump’s D.C. hotel after Trump announced his candidacy in 2015.

FEMA said Andrés was frustrated that it couldn’t offer him a long-term contract through the end of December for $30 million.

Andrés disputed that claim, telling BuzzFeed he told FEMA shorter contacts were acceptable in the meantime.

“For them to say I was a businessman trying to make a buck, whoever said that should be very ashamed of themselves,” Andrés said. 

Tags Hurricane Maria
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