With concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 swirling across California, the Grand Princess cruise ship languished off the coast of San Francisco with 3,500 passengers and crew members who had potentially been exposed. As government officials and the media chewed over where they could be tested and treated, the disaster-relief heroes at World Central Kitchen worried over what the ship’s passengers were eating. And they called on Bon Appétit Management Company CEO Fedele Bauccio to help.
Fedele put out a request for volunteers in the Bay Area, and more than 30 chefs, managers, and other staff from The Presidio, Chase Center, corporate cafés, and elsewhere across the Northern California region showed up early on a Sunday morning to work out of a café at University of San Francisco, which is currently closed for spring break and generously donated the use of its space.
“I am so proud of you all,” Fedele told the assembled group. “This is what we’re all about.”
Regional Vice President Markus Hartmann, Regional Culinary Director Robbie Lewis, Regional Manager Joseph Alfieri, Chase Center Executive Chef of Concessions Chad Neuman and Senior Pastry Chef Bianca Montijo, Presidio Foods Resident District Manager Stacy Peoples and Director of Operations Charlie Cross, Executive Chef Victor Vela, Director of Operations Samantha Burkett, USF Director of Catering Dannie Stanton, and two dozen others formed assembly lines with World Central Kitchen representatives. Together they made 3,500 portions of an entrée salad and packaged it with a soft roll, dessert, and cutlery. World Central Kitchen took care of the logistics of transporting the food to the cruise ship by boat.
And then a Bon Appétit group showed up the next morning, to put together a continental breakfast with a croissant, cheese, salami, yogurt, and juice, plus another nourishing entrée salad for lunch, before the ship was allowed to dock in Oakland and some of those affected were evacuated.
The support will continue this week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while the ship remains in Oakland. For a special dinner on Wednesday, when the cruise ship head count is expected to dip below 2,000, they will be making a special dinner of tri-tip with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. (See update with video from when José stopped by.)
It’s not the first time Bon Appétiters have joined forces with World Central Kitchen, which was founded by renowned chef and humanitarian (and Bon Appétit Management Company partner) José Andrés. Bon Appétit chefs have helped feed victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the fires in Napa, and the floods in Nebraska.
Updated Tuesday, March 10, with additional information