As part of his week-long celebration of Puerto Rico, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon took a break from zip-lining through the jungle and guest-starring in Hamilton to have lunch with José Andrés, the acclaimed Spanish-American chef and founder of the disaster relief non-profit group World Central Kitchen.
The segment from last night’s episode begins with Fallon and Andrés eating an array of fried delicacies at beachside restaurant El Rinconcito Latino in Piñones. “If you’re a tourist, and you want to become a local, you come here,” Andrés explains. The chef schools Jimmy on the perfect way to eat a crab-stuffed alcapurria — “You need to close your eyes before you bite into it” — and they order a pair of tall rum sours while discussing the local culinary scene.
Andrés first visited Puerto Rico 25 years ago, but he got to know the island in a very intimate way during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The chef arrived three days after the storm hit, and began organizing makeshift kitchens with friends and volunteers. He estimates that in the weeks following the storm, nearly 25,000 volunteers helped serve approximately four million meals. “In the end, the people of Puerto Rico fed Puerto Rico,” he remarks.
While strolling along the beach, Andrés and Fallon chat about the importance of tourists coming to Puerto Rico and visiting local independent businesses right now, because, as the chef notes, “in the end, it’s the small businesses that keeps the world running, especially in America.” The chef was an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s response to the disaster, but says that the people in FEMA are “the biggest heroes I’ve ever met.”
Fallon also asks Andrés about why he decided to chronicle World Central Kitchen’s Hurricane Maria recovery effort in his book, We Fed an Island. His response:
I wrote the book to make sure we learn from something from it, and the next time something like this happens, that we didn’t expect, it’s okay not to be ready. What is never okay is not to adapt to the new situation. What we did is to adapt to the new situation. I hope the book will give a path to show others that we don’t need so many meetings. We only need more simple solutions that everybody understands so everybody can join the team and everybody can execute quicker, faster, and better.
Watch their entire conversation in the Tonight Show clip above.