Sunday, June 4, 2023

Volunteers wanted: The world network of chefs comes to Wilmington for Florence response

Florence is big and bad, but once again, chefs and cooks are up to the challenge.

WILMINGTON — Some people are evacuating Wilmington, others are staying, but it’s safe to say very few people – save for emergency response teams – are coming into town. But someone has to feed those response teams, and – after the storm – help feed communities in need.

That’s where World Central Kitchen comes in, and why they’ve come to town.

World Central Kitchen is a non-profit founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. According to Tim Kilcoyne, World Central Kitchen’s “chef lead” for the Florence response team, the idea is to use the global network of chefs and cooks to respond to disasters however possible.

Kilcoyne got involved last year. Living in California in December of 2017, he was evacuated ahead of the Thomas wildfire, along with fellow chef Jason Collis. They have since traveled extensively, responding to disasters — including the recent volcano and storm in Hawaii, and the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico.

“It’s a little bit of everything, it’s a little bit everywhere,” Kilcoyne said.

Kilcoyne has seen responses launched around the world.

“I’m actually from California, and our home office is in D.C., so there’s a wide chef’s network we can pull from,” Kilcoyne said.

To respond to Florence, World Central Kitchen contacted North Carolina chefs Vivian Howard and Ashely Christensen for recommendations. They ended up at Diamond Food Enterprises, a catering company run by Steve Lambros, along with Diamond Food’s chef Matthew Wertman and some of Lambros’ staff. Also pitching in, owner of the T’Geaux Boys food truck, Michelle “Mama” Rock.

Kilcoyne just finished setting up a Facebook page for World Central Kitchen’s Florence mission, calling on volunteers. From local chefs to amateur sandwich-assemblers, Kilcoyne is looking for volunteers to help feed the region’s first responders.

“There’s always an empty kitchen, and there’s always chefs who want to help,” Kilcoyne said.

While the first part of the response mission is to keep emergency management workers well fed through the storm, Kilcoyne said there’s also been discussion of tapping into the Wilmington area’s food truck culture.

“That’s something we’re talking about right now,” Kilcoyne said. “After the storm passes, there’s going to be people in the community that need food and can’t get it –– so we’re thinking about ways to get the food trucks to them.”

Kilcoyne said the team is also prepared to assist in South Carolina, as well.

“We’re here to help,” Kilcoyne said.

For more information, you can check out World Central Kitchen’s website, and the Facebook page for their Florence response mission, Chefs for Carolinas. Interested volunteers should contact Tim Kilcoyne by email at

Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.


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