Disaster Culinary Management Teams

This is an alert seeking Chef Volunteers willing to work in field kitchens in Haiti.

Over the past 72 hours I’ve been networking with:

U.N. World Food Programme
American Culinary Federation
FohBoh (Michael Atkinson, CEO)
Share Our Strength (Billy Shore, Deb Shore and Ashley Graham)
People Report (Joni Doolin, CEO)
Fast Casual (Paul Barron, CEO)
U.S. Department of Defense (Col. David Lapan, USMC, Chief Public Affairs Officer)
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps (Lt. Col. Samuel Russell, QM, Chief of Commanding Generals Office)
Sodexo (USA and China)

I’ve had direct conversations with the above entities. Some of these conversations have led to this call being shared with the Executive Board of the National Restaurant Association, McDonalds Corporate Office, Chefs for Humanity and the U.S. White House Office of the First Lady.

The next two to three weeks in Haiti will see prepackaged ready-to-eat meals being distributed. Then, transition will occur to actual food preparation in the field. The field will be extremely challenging.

Specifics have not been solidified at this time – but I encourage anyone interested in volunteering to leave a comment here to this blogpost.

Please read comments for Updates (I’m updating in the comment section as developments occur)

Announcement: If you are a Chef that can volunteer for Haiti or might be able too, please leave a comment so we can get back to you.

The chefs and restaurateurs of the USA, particularly those affected by Hurricane Katrina, offer vast management experience in efficiently feeding large numbers of people. We’ve demonstrated this ability to hit the ground running, quickly take collaborative command of culinary management (in partnership with various government and NGO organizations) and lend our significant skill and financial resources in a large scale humanitarian response.

The combined networks of the National Restaurant Association (including its partner state hospitality organizations), the American Culinary Federation, Share Our Strength, and other entities such as FohBoh.com (largest social network for the industry), Nation’s Restaurant News and Fast Casual – represent the ability to quickly notify and mobilize volunteers and donors.


The sheer scale of the earthquake disaster in Haiti will require mass-feeding on a scale similar to the needs facing the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I believe there are numerous talented professionals that would be willing to respond to an organized response in the field.

I also believe there are logisticians who can quickly coordinate such an effort, facilitating organization, placement and distribution of Disaster Culinary Teams in Haiti.

Much as SAR Disaster teams are fielded, the restaurant industry in the US has the ability to provide critically needed knowledge and practical experience, in addition to the financial generosity this industry is particularly known for.

Initial Actions Taken

I’ve contacted the following and have received immediate and positive feedback:

Office of First Lady Michelle Obama, the White House – waiting on a callback.

People Report, Joni Doolin, CEO

FohBoh.com, Michael Atkinson, CEO (largest social network for the restaurant industry)

Fast Casual Alliance, Paul Barron, CEO

39 Comments to “Disaster Culinary Management Teams”

  1. I just like the valuable info you supply in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at again here regularly. I’m quite sure I will be told many new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the next!

  2. Is this aid iniciative undergoing?

  3. Hi I am finishing my culinary internship currently and would love the opportunity to help in anyway I can. I’m a hard worker and a fast learner, thank you for your time.

  4. I am not working at this present time and wanting to do whatever I can to help since finances are tight for me personaly I am not able to give much help there however I am an expert artisan bread baker and chef with lots of exoerience in make shift kitchens (worked in off premis catering for many years). I do have access to wide varity of high profile cefs and resturuants . Please let me know if there is anyway I can help.

  5. I am a veteran I served twice in Iraq and I helped in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. I am now a full time culinary student in Charlotte and I would like to volunteer to go to Haiti and serve in the dining facilities there I am a mass quantity cook and am very well adept to disater type relief. I asked the adivsors at my school if their were any events going on to help in the Haiti relief effort and all I got was a half hearted no and then a why am I so concerned. This troubles me deeply that we can be so unconcerned about others. If you know of anyway that I can go there for a few weeks to help. I would appreciate it.

  6. would like to volunteer my time in haiti

  7. I am a sous chef at a private golf club, and have experience in feeding large groups. I would like to go to haiti to help. Thank You

  8. Update 19 23:08 EST

    This afternoon I had the fortune of speaking with Mark Johnson, who represents the only female Food Network Iron Chef, Cat Cora, about Haiti. Mark was introduced to me by Karen D’Attore of the UN World Food Programme.

    Mark and I discussed the latest developments of Chefs for Humanity, which Cat is the founder of, in concert with the UN World Food Programme.

    Field Food Production Kitchens in Haiti

    The situation in Haiti is too unstable for the UN WFP to establish field kitchens. It is expected that a bare minimum of three weeks will be required before the establishment of kitchens actually preparing food.

    Chefs for Humanity has a very active interest in organizing with the UN WFP the volunteer professional chef staffing of these field kitchens.

    We talked about continuing to appeal for chef volunteers while at the same time collaboratively working on logistics with orther organizations.

    Further dialogues on the logistics of sending volunteer professional chefs are needed, in concert with international NGO’s and Governments that are aiding.

    The first priority, according to both UN WFP and Chefs for Humanity (and also according to Share Our Strength), is cash donations for purchasing prepackaged ready-to-eat meals for immediate distribution.

    Cat Cora has launched a major publicity fund-raising drive through Chefs for Humanity, that would directly benefit the purchase of the ready meals, to kick off on major broadcast network this weekend.

  9. please let me know where i need to be and when. Thank you , Greg Martell

  10. Update 18 15:22 EST

    Just off the phone with Karen D’Attore, Senior Director of Global Corporate Relations for the UN World Food Programme.

    She has been having conversations with Chefs for Humanity and Chef Cat Cora (who’s heavily involved in Chefs for Humanity), and is trying to coordinate a collection of offers from around the world.

    WFPs interest is in short term seeking to raise $$ for Haiti – long term to craft deep relationships for future activities.

    I am waiting for a contact to occur with Chefs for Humanity for collaboration.

  11. I am the Head Chef at the Ivy lounge in New Haven,CT… I am ready and able to serve. Please contact me. Chef Greg Martell

  12. hiya jeff,
    My name is kirk mealand and i would like to volunteer to go to haiti as a chef. I was in the british army for over 7 years. I have been on 4 tours which 2 of them was in iraq where i volunteered where i had to exstended my army service for 9 months. all cooking was done in a field kitchen. I have also done a number of exercises in the uk. I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks kirk mealand
    Emile: kirkpaulmealnd@msn.com

  13. Would like to go and help in Haiti – it’s our slow season and I have lots of experience in international travel/cuisine. Able to cook for large groups

  14. I would like to go also, Serv Safe qual. massive experience in large hotel catering- all types of foods. Have a high volume pizzeria and know how to move- Expert at massive amounts of breads and experienced in all flours, cuisines.
    I can leave today.

  15. Update 17 02:48 EST

    Karen D’Attore, Senior Director Global Corporate Relationships at the UN World Food Programme requested a phone conversation for Monday. Will update this afterwards.

  16. Please let me know if I can help. my email is need_a_chef@yahoo.com. I am serve safe certified, have my hep a shots, and have vast experiences in large scale food service facilites, along with experience in hospital and correctional settings.

  17. We own and operate Stone Park Cafe in Brooklyn, NY. I would like to offer my services in sending a trained chef to Haiti to help in the culinary relief efforts. Please contact me if I can be of help in any way.

  18. Update 16 13:56 EST

    Just off the phone with Karen D’Attore, Senior Director Corporate Relations at the UN World Food Programme. More to come on this dialogue – we’re supposed to talk again early next week.

    Pace and Timing:
    There is definitely a need to volunteer staff field kitchens in Haiti beginning in the next few weeks. Also, there is an immediate need for fund-raising for food provision of prepackaged foods for immediate distribution and other logistics.

    Longer Vision:
    1. Create a cadre of professional chefs that have experience in disaster relief. These chefs can then mentor future crisis responses.

    2. Create those invaluable relationships that can be put into action in crisis.

    3. Bridge relationships between the strength and talent resources of the second largest segment of the US economy with NGOs and government entities.

  19. Update 15 21:06 EST

    Earlier today I spoke with the Chief of the Commanding General, US Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, VA.

    Lt. Col. Samuel Russell took the call, even though he is on leave this week, listened and then requested I email him the link to this concept. He stated he would forward it to the Commanding General US Army Quartermaster Corps and to the US Army Culinary Team.

  20. I’m a freelance off-premise chef and culinary instructor from NYC. I’ve been to New Orleans on post Katrina cooking details with the Culinary Corp. I’d be very interested in volunteering to go down to Haiti to work.

    Please keep me posted.


    Jeff Seligman

  21. Update 14 22:19 EST

    Email from the Pentagon:

    Thanks. I have passed the information you sent earlier to my colleagues at US Southern Command, which has the lead for DoD efforts in Haiti.

    Col Dave Lapan, USMC
    Director, Defense Press Operations
    The Pentagon (2D961)
    Washington, DC. 20350-1400

  22. Update 13 21:20 EST

    Rec’d email from the American Culinary Federation at 17:45 EST

    Dear Jeffrey:

    I left you a message this morning to call me, but I understand that you are in meetings all day.

    In regards to our phone conversation yesterday and your email correspondence, I wanted to let you know that the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation’s Disaster Relief Task Force has been in contact with the Red Cross (efforts are being led by the International Red Cross). As you already know, global relief efforts are underway from many countries and aid groups, and range from providing trained personnel and equipment to basic living essentials, such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. At this time, non-medical volunteers are not being accepted because of limited access to Haiti and the affected areas. The greatest need is for monetary donations. Therefore, we are promoting the need for donations to our membership, as are many other organizations.

    I hope your meetings went well.



  23. Update 12 21:18 EST

    Had a phone call with the Corporate Recruiter of Sodexo USA at 12:00 EST. A dialogue had played out on her Facebook account between her, several Sodexo Chefs and myself last night.

    She said she had forwarded this dialogue to Sodexo USA VP of Operations and the VP of Public Relations.

  24. Update 11 21:16 EST

    Email from Ashley Graham, Share Our Strength Coordinator in New Orleans, rec’d at 14:30 EST

    Hi Jeff,

    This is impressive. We are talking daily and solidifying our plans as to how Share Our Strength can best help and deploy our assets, and we’ll keep you posted. FYI, I have forwarded your messages to Christine Carroll who founded Culinary Corps (based out of NYC) – which mobilizes culinary professionals (from around the country) to volunteer using their cooking skills. They’ve done several trips to New Orleans and provided invaluable service. I’ve also asked her to let me know if they hear anything on their end.

    More soon,


  25. Update 10 21:15 EST

    From Paul Barron: email rec’d at 12:28 EST

    Jeff, what are the next steps that I can help with – is there and action plan in place yet or are you trying to link up with FEMA or the White House? If there is a landing page I could direct to we could run and emergency ALERT to our 100,000 Subscribers.

    Let me know.

  26. Update 9 21:13 EST

    1. Chef Vinny Rubbe in New Hampshire is “ready-to-go”.

    2. Rec’d email at 11:01 EST from NYC:


    I am a trained chef living in the NYC area. Do you have any information on working or volunteering for culinary work in disaster areas namely Haiti? Any information you could pass on would be helpful.

    I should also mention that we own and operate http://www.stoneparkcafe.com in Brooklyn, New York. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

    Many thanks,

    Tracy Young

  27. Update 8 21:10 EST

    Email from Deb Shore at Share Our Strength (rec’d at 12:44 EST:

    Hi Jeff,

    I know you’ve reached out to Billy re Haiti – in addition to making an emergency grant today, we are in the process of finding out what the NRA, Red Cross and others are doing so that we can coordinate efforts and guide our restaurant supporters accordingly. There will be updated info on our site by the end of the day. We will be in touch soon.



    Jeff Note: Their website is http://www.strength.org

  28. Update 7 10:32 EST

    1. Chef at Rattlesnake Bar in Boston (venerable establishment of 30 years across from old Ritz Carlton) is the Exec Chef Guy Boyden.

    2. Exec Chef Brian Alberg of Red Lion Inn in Albany NY (six times James Beard House Chef and organizer of Berkshires Chefs/Farmers Alliance) sent message this morning that he will go.

  29. Update 6 01:02 EST

    Just rec’d Facebook message that a Chef at the Rattlesnake Bar in Boston would gladly go to Haiti.

  30. Update 5 22:48 EST

    My reply to Michael (see above):

    The equipment supplies are on hand vis a vis the federal govt (mobile kitchens, etc). When Katrina happened, Chef John Folse issued a request w/in 36 hours to the highest offices of the ACF for cash and food, consolidating his operations in Baton Rouge. The restaurant in Portland ME I was chef of at the time raised over $5K inside five days for Chef Folse’s operation.

    The first few days will be food provisions such as MRE’s; but there will likely be a large offering of raw food and cash. The US military and military contractors won’t have the culinary personnel to provide, except in limited numbers. On another aspect, this is another opportunity to show to the world the generosity of our industry and the skills that our industry utilize on a daily basis.

    I’ve got a conversation with Seattle’s top food blogger happening tonight; she was involved in a few of Anthony Bourdain’s production segments and is also very close to Chef John Besh in New Orleans. It also likely would not be difficult to get to Chef Alton Brown or other Food Network Chefs – we all have those connections

    Through the food blogging community or through the Natl Rest Assoc/ACF connections – it’s also probably this could get to the White House Chef. When I called there this morning, I made it through the main switchboard to the First Lady’s office – the receptionist spoke with some staffers who got my name/number/email.


    • Hi,
      I am a chef living in London while i study. I will be done with my studies in October of this year, but would very much be interested in volunteering for haiti in serving meals. I am from Dominican Republic and could even possibly provide contacts with food manufacturers from my country that could aid in the production of meals for large amounts of people. Is this iniciative happening? I have not seen new posts since February 12th.

  31. Update 4 22:44 EST

    In conversation w/Sodexo Exec Chef Guy Boyden (see above for his team):

    1. He provided contact for senior exec at Sodexo France – that contact has been emailed the concept.

    2. If this happens, team members must be prepared to bear witness to overwhelming tragedy (death) and be prepared for extremely tough field conditions.

  32. Update 3 22:40 EST

    Just off the phone with Col. David Lapan, Public Affairs Office USA Dept of Defense:

    1. Haitian’s diet would require menu that is similar to existing diet. Teams would have to be prepared to meet that challenge.

    2. The first weeks after such an event are typically sustained with pre-packaged meals (ie: MREs Meals Ready To Eat).

    I have shared this concept with him and provided the link to this blogpost and my contact info.

  33. Update 2 22:39 EST

    From Michael Atkinson, CEO of FohBoh.com

    Jeff, thanks for this.

    I was part of the relief effort at Katrina, with Cheeseburger Restaurants (Cheeseburger in Paradise, Hawaii group) for a week. In that week, we created a “Mash-style” restaurant that became “Main Street” and a “first-place” to meet. We camped in RV’s and served hamburgers, fries, and continental breakfasts to over 20,000 VERY HAPPY first responders and residents. It was, at least for me, a life changing experience. What we did learn though, was how slow agencies reacted to our generosity. We raised over $150,000 from customers and were successful at negotiating supplies at cost. This will be different, however. It was a logistical challenge, to say the least.

    If this is something that can be put into action, based on my personal experience, we will need a champion at the highest level (politics, military, celebrities) and a lot of cash. I strongly encourage you to reach out to Laren Gartner, CEO at Cheeseburger Restaurants, or Robert Kaskie, COO at Cheeseburger Restaurants in Portola, California. They have the real-world expertise that will be needed to make this work quickly.

    Other than this, consider FohBoh on board to help in any way we can.


  34. Update 1 21:34 EST

    This concept has been communicated to the following:

    White House (USA) Main Switchboard/Email
    First Lady Obama’s Staff
    The American Culinary Federation Exec Director
    William Clinton Foundation (through Facebook)
    Share Our Strength Exec Director
    National Restaurant Assoc: Three Exec Board Members
    People Report CEO
    FohBoh.com CEO
    Fast Casual Alliance CEO
    Chef John Folse (LA) PR Director
    Nations Restaurant News SE Editor

  35. Todd, I have a hard core get it done crew here on the Oregon coast. 2 retired military Chefs, A retired drill instructor, video communication expert, a Navy tech., and of course My self and Wayne Phylen are executive chefs with extensive food safety training. I do have Fire District evac…uation training and military MP training. I have done field kitchens for up to 2500 a day.No mre I did from scratch meals using what was avaliable locally. Sodexo should put the talent of our staff to use and have a emergency responce team that could go world wide and help with the releaf efforts. I have had the same idea, as Todd, since the Indo quake. I would love to headup a team to help the children and schools. I am a Sodexo facilities manager in Oregon with school services with an extensive food service background.

  36. How can we help as chefs part of Sodexho?

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