Miami Chef Karla Hoyos Joins World Central Kitchen at Ukraine Border

Last weekend, José Andrés was caught between two completely different worlds. 

The chef, who was in Miami Beach to cohost the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash (and, after Rachael Ray was exposed to COVID, the annual Tribute Dinner ), cut short his festive duties to fly to the Poland/Ukraine border with his nongovernmental organization, World Central Kitchen (WCK), to feed refugees fleeing the escalating Russian invasion.

Joining him on his mission is Karla Hoyos. The former chef de cuisine at the Bazaar by José Andrés first met the chef when volunteering in Puerto Rico after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Hoyos has since left the Bazaar, but she has continued to work with WCK, flying to help Bahamians after Hurricane Dorian, Haitians after the most recent earthquake, and first responders after the Surfside condo collapse, among other missions.

Now she’s in Poland.

New Times was able to reach Hoyos briefly over the weekend via messaging, where she said, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” She said the weather was deteriorating with freezing temperatures, but, “people having food is more important than my cold.”

She did, though, post an Instagram story in which she said, “Today, we came back to the border and brought hot chocolate and warming packs for the refugees that had been walking for hours to cross it. Lots of kids, freezing temperatures, no place to warm up.”

In subsequent stories, she pointed out mothers with small children and noted that the men stayed behind to fight. Her Instagram is a compelling look at war through the eyes of a person who has no military or conflict-journalism training.

Hoyos is reporting through the eyes of someone whose calling is to feed people.

click to enlarge WCK volunteers feed people at the Poland/Ukraine border. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN

WCK volunteers feed people at the Poland/Ukraine border.

Photo courtesy of World Central Kitchen

According to a WCK spokesperson, the organization now has locations at eight border crossings with Poland and is distributing 35,000 meals a day with a goal of 60,000 meals a day.

In a statement sent to New Times, WCK said, “Our response has grown rapidly, and WCK teams are establishing meal distribution points across six countries, including Hungary, Moldova, Romania and, soon, Slovakia. In Ukraine, we are also supporting those individuals who have stayed by partnering with local restaurants to provide meals in five cities and two border crossings. WCK is working with local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks in the region to provide nourishing meals at border crossings, shelters, and other refugee communities.”

Though Hoyos has seen firsthand many hardships endured by people in the aftermath of disasters, this one seems worse than any hurricane or earthquake. Over the weekend, she posted, “Today was hard so hard I broke down like I never had before. This should not be happening in 2022, people should not be suffering like this, children should not go through this. I’m so mad. People, be grateful, we are so blessed just to have a place to sleep, food, and not watching your children cry cause they are cold and not being able to do anything about it.”

click to enlarge Chef José Andrés and WCK volunteers feeding people from a food truck in Poland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN

Chef José Andrés and WCK volunteers feeding people from a food truck in Poland.

Photo courtesy of World Central Kitchen

If you want to support WCK’s efforts, visit Follow Karla Hoyos at @chefkarlahoyos.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as New Times learns more. 

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